“We have not access to water through pipelines for a month. I collected rainwater yesterday,” says Gregorina, 23, while she collects water from a water truck that arrived in Caucaguita, her neighborhood in Petare on the outskirts of Caracas. Petare is one of the most populated areas in Venezuela. Millions of people live on the hilly slopes and UNICEF supports them on the ground.
Gregorina is a mother of three and she was at the truck with her daughter, Duglianis, 9, and her buckets and bottles to collect water enough to drink, cook, wash clothes, and maintain personal hygiene.
“We boil the water we drink. But one time I drank dirty water and got sick. I got a fever and tiny white spots appeared on my skin,” said Duglianis while she was showing me her home and especially a big water bucket installed inside her house. “When there’s no rain, and no water trucks, I have to go to my aunt’s house. When I get home, I’m tired because I had to haul heavy jerrycans.”
“It’s really stressful to not have safe drinking water. I have to admit that my mood turns bad when I have to cook or wash my children’s school clothes and I do not have water to do it,” added Gregorina.
I understood her feeling. I live close to her parish and also suffer from water shortages every day. Safe drinking water access is a real challenge for many families in Venezuela, not just for Duglianis’s family. Water rationing is ongoing. Responding to this reality, UNICEF has strengthened its Water, Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH) program in the country, especially to reach the most vulnerable.
“A person consumes about 7.5 liters of water per day. A water truck carries 12,000 liters,” explains Amilcar Espluga, a UNICEF WASH staff member in Venezuela as he puts purification tablets distributed by UNICEF inside the water truck.
UNICEF is providing communities with access to safe water. One way of doing this is by distributing purification tablets and powder to guarantee that the water truck really brings safe drinking water to the communities it visits.
The chlorination of water trucks in Petare, a critical area around Caracas, continues through the agreements with municipal authorities. By June 2019, 28,600 people were provided with access to safe water, thanks to the joint work between hydrological technicians, the community and UNICEF.
Sendai Zea is Communication Officer at UNICEF Venezuela.