Scavenging to survive in Venezuela

An economic crisis has driven many Venezuelans into the sewage-strewn waters of the Guaire River in search of valuables.

| | Latin America, Venezuela, Poverty & Development, Politics, Humanitarian crises

Correction: 16/10/2017: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed the cost of goods, such as bread, based on the official exchange rate ($1 equals 10 Bolivars) instead of the black market rate.

Caracas, Venezuela - The Guaire River is the sewer of the Venezuelan capital, Caracas. The city's wastewater empties into the river, turning it brown and filling the air with a nauseating stench.

But since Venezuela's economic crisis began it is here, in this sewage-filled water, that some Venezuelans search for a means of survival, a way to earn a little money and to feed their families. 

Every day, groups of Venezuelans sift through the rubbish and excrement that has been dumped into the river in the hope of finding jewellery that may have fallen down somebody's drain and ended up in the sewer.

It isn't only in the river that people scavenge.

The Francisco Fajardo highway is just downstream. Six people live under its bridge amid the noise and fumes of the passing cars.

Like many other Venezuelans living in Caracas, they are forced to search for their daily food in the rubbish.

In the late afternoons, when supermarkets close and restaurants throw away their leftovers, they go in search of them, scavenging through bins in the hope of finding something to eat.

Find out about all the latest updates on the crisis in Venezuela



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