Colombia
Capital:
Bogota
Population:
48 million
Area:
1,141,748
km2

From Andean peaks and Caribbean coastlines to hidden ruins in Amazonian jungle, Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. But sourcing water for everyone is still a problem.

Decades of armed conflict, drug trafficking, weak government and corruption have made Colombia a difficult place to live for many people. In recent years, the country’s economy has grown and its tourism industry has boomed, but certain regions still lack essential services.

In rural areas almost one in three people do not have a decent toilet, and one in four do not have clean water to drink.

We are working to change this, focusing first on indigenous groups in the northeast Department of La Guajira. Using our experience of working with local communities and service providers, we are helping make clean water a normal part of daily life for the poorest, most marginalized people in this region.

With their help, we test technologies and approaches that have worked in similar environments elsewhere. We train local people to install and maintain windmill, hand and solar-driven pumps and storage tanks. And we set up water committees to help keep these solutions working, whatever changes the climate brings.

Most importantly, we bring local, national and regional organizations together to collaborate on improvements to services. Together, we are making a lasting difference in rural communities across Colombia with clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene.

people in rural areas don't have a decent toilet.

There is a large gap between people living in the city and the country.

don't have clean drinking water.

That's 4.2 million people without this basic right.

people in La Guajira live in extreme poverty.

That means living on less than $1 a day.

Clean water comes to Kasichi

WaterAid/Jordi Ruiz Cirera
" Water helps us take care of our animals. With the clean water the children and I don’t get sick. "
Graciela Ipuana, 60

Kasichi is situated in Middle Guajira, a remote location in the Colombian desert. The climate is hot, with temperatures ranging from 30 to 38 degrees Celsius. People here rely on animals like donkeys for their livelihoods.

A member of the Native American Wayuu group, Graciela has lived in Kasichi for seven years. For clean water, she would travel to a jaguey, a man-made pool that collects rainwater, around a kilometre away.

Unfortunately, the jaguey was easily contaminated by animals, making the water risky to drink. Graciela's family suffered because of it. "When the children would get sick with vomiting and diarrhea I would not be able to do things at home," she explains.

We worked with the people of Kasichi to install a new well, water tank and toilets. Once built, the community set up an association to collect funds that help maintain the tank, which Graciela encourages her neighbours to contribute to. "The water source is important," she says. "And I would do anything I needed to do to protect it."

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