• Peter

Water shortages in Venezuela: a glimpse into the daily struggle

Updated: Nov 17, 2019

The day-to-day living in Venezuela has become critical for the vast majority of its citizens regardless of their economic status. This is partly because of the current economic crisis the country is facing which dates back to 2014 due to the collapse in oil prices and the soaring hyperinflation which has resulted from this situation. The country is experiencing shortages of all kinds and lately, one of the vital resources is becoming depleted: water. We surely can’t imagine a country without water supply for 15 consecutive days, however, this was the case of Venezuela as a result of two major nationwide blackouts which took place last may. It is believed that this situation occurred due to lack of proper management on the main hydroelectric plants in the country, and because water pumps function with electricity, the supply was severely affected. Furthermore, climate change effects are also to blame for this situation, as extended droughts with years of no rain in the country have deepened water scarcity.

Accessing clean and sanitised water is now a privilege that only wealthy people can afford. For instance, a 5 litre water bottle costs about $4 at a supermarket in Caracas, something unaffordable for many low-income people in Venezuela, especially people in rural areas, where the monthly minimum wage is around $6 each month.

Low-income and poor Venezuelans can only opt to find water wherever possible, and they spend their days trying to get water from every source: springs form the Avila National Park in the capital city of Caracas, leaky pipes, water tanks, and even from the most sewage contaminated river in Caracas: El Guaire. Rural areas are even more deeply affected as the access to these regions in the country is more complicated and often ignored. Many public schools in these areas have no access to clean and sanitised water, leaving school children deprived from this vital resource. Moreover, according to Maria Eugenia Landaeta, head of the department for infectious-disease at University Hospital in Caracas, the lack of clean and sanitised water has led to the spread of health problems such as gastrointestinal and bacterial infections such as diarrhoea and hepatitis.