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Araguaia and Tocantins rivers, Brazil

Map of Araguaia–Tocantins River basin

Map of Araguaia (1) and Tocantins (2) River basin
See larger image

The Araguaia and Tocantins rivers, draining a total of 767,000 km², flow from the central plateau northward to the southern channel of the Amazon just upstream from Belém. The Tocantins is an embanked river, with relatively clear water, while the Araguaia is a floodplain river, with a sinuous bed and muddy waters, due to its substantial sediment load. The two rivers converge at Marabá, Brazil.

There are two principal threats to the Araguaia–Tocantins system, whose cumulative impacts together spell the death of the river and its aquatic life. One is the Brazilian government’s plan to construct 80 dams in the basin – 12 large dams on the main stem of the Tocantins (4 already built), 7 on the Araguaia (which is still undammed), and 14 other large dams and 47 smaller dams on upstream tributaries. Another is a plan to channelize and blast rock outcroppings along 1,782 km. of the Araguaia and its tributary, the das Mortes river, as well as sections of the Tocantins to construct an industrial waterway, or hidrovia to lower the cost of transporting soybeans for export. Along the river live 11 distinct indigenous ethnic groups, totaling more than 14,000 people. The basin is also especially rich in fish species, with about 300 already identified.

latest additions

BNDES Could Finance Company With History of Social and Environmental Conflicts

Read article by IRN’s Glenn Switkes regarding possible financing by Brazil’s National Development Bank for Tractebel’s Estreito dam project, despite past instances of social and environmental irresponsibility by the Belgian company.

April 19, 2006


Map showing conflicts affecting water users in the Araguaia–Tocantins basin

See excellent map by Brazil’s Water Resources Secretariat, showing existing and planned dams in the basin, and their relation with other projects being implemented.

December 2005


Letter to President of Energy Research Company Regarding Energy Planning

Read the letter from the Brazilian NGO Forum to Mauricio Tolmasquim, President of the new Energy Research Company, on concerns regarding energy planning.

May 15, 2005


Letter to IDB President Demanding Reparations for Damages

Read the letter from Brazil’s Movement of Dam–Affected People to IDB President Enrique Iglesias demanding that the bank take action to facilitate reparations for damages Cana Brava dam has taken on the lives of their people and community

February 6, 2005

Additional Information

Glenn Switkes, Latin America Campaigns Director

International Rivers Network


Phone: +55 11 3822 4157