Three years without regular water service in La Guajira

Some 60,000 neighbors in the region between Venezuela and Colombia have had to resort to artisan wells and other solutions, as water by pipe service has long been unavailable.

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Some 60,000 inhabitants –mostly Wayuu and Añu native peoples- of the Guajira municipality in Zulia state are waiting for governor Omar Prieto to reactivate the El Brillante waterworks because, without it, they have been three years without regular water by pipe service.

Some 83% of Venezuela is without regular water service. Even sections of Caracas, the capital city and seat of the national government, may go up to two weeks without water.

The hardy Wayuu and his neighbors in this semi-desert between Colombia and Venezuela have had to resort to artisan wells and similar solutions.

Guajira municipality mayor, Indira Fernandez, said some of the work has been completed, but still, no service. But some inhabitants say in remote regions the main pipes and other gears were stealing, and the remaining ones rusty.

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“I’ve been hearing for 15 years now that La Guajira is going to get water by pipe over El Brillante. Now, that’s a big lie. How is the water going to get here without tubing? Maybe by magic. The governor got here, announcing that in 15 days we were going to drink sweet water, but that’s all a lot of smoke,” Alberto Guerrero, from the town of Paraguaipoa, said.

Josefa Gonzalez said that in her section of La Guajira, it has been ten years without regular water service. “The water story is now that’s a tiring issue. That’s why I made my well for my family. Maybe it’s not fit for human consumption, but I did it out of need because I was not going to let my kids die of thirst. How much money have they put into El Brillante? Well, a lot, but that money has taken a different road.” she said.

Neighbors often have to buy a 1,000-liter water truck for $9, or three months of a minimum wage.

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