Watering down a revolution: Cuba's struggle for water

Cubans face a daily battle for drinking water as the country experiences one of its worst droughts in 100 years.

| | Poverty & Development, Cuba

Cuba is experiencing one of its worst droughts in 100 years. Although the government provides drinking water, the shortages caused by the lack of rain are compounded by an aging and dilapidated infrastructure. More than 50 percent of the available water is lost to a leaking drainage system and state water officials must manually change the flow of water in the pipes every day to ensure an equal water divide between houses and neighbourhoods.

Even so, some cities in Cuba only have running water once every five days, and only for a few hours at a time. Residents use these hours to fill water tanks and personal reservoirs, usually on roofs. Because the water pressure in the system is so low, Cubans have resorted to using garden hoses and private motors to connect a street-level water supply with their rooftop storage.

In conditions of extreme drought, such as the one Cuba is currently facing, every city block is permitted to request one government water truck. However, the trucks are too slow to arrive for many Cubans, who pay illegal water vendors to transport water, by horse carriage, from houses that have running water to houses that do not.

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