51.9 million

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 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.

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 those in the region most affected by poverty and marginalisation.

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

Most importantly, we bring local, national and regional organisations 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 don't have clean water close to home.

people don't have a decent toilet of their own.

under the age of five die each year from diarrhoea.

Clean water comes to Kasichi

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 it risky to drink the water. Graciela's family suffered because of this. "When the children would get sick with vomiting and diarrhoea I would not be able to do things at home," she explained.

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 said. "And I would do anything I needed to do to protect it."

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