Extreme Drought in Cuba, Many Are Unaware

Rosa Martinez

Cuba faces severe drought in many of its municipalities. File photo: juventudrebelde.cu

HAVANA TIMES — On March 22nd, the entire world should have celebrated World Water Day, but with a planet that is becoming drier and drier and with an extremely damaged environment, the majority of us would think that there isn’t a lot to celebrate.

Cuba, for its part, reached this date suffering one of the most intense droughts in the last 100 years, severely affecting over 80% of the population. Out of the country’s 168 municipalities, 141 are affected and 53 have been declared in extreme drought.

The Government has implemented measures across the archipelago to try and relieve the difficult situation which, while it isn’t new, as it has remained more or less stable over the last three years, continues to get worse.

Among the government’s plan of action is the construction of a desalination plant in the province of Santiago de Cuba, with future plans for more of these plants; water distribution strategies in every city and town; drilling infiltration wells so as to prevent them from causing damage to harvests and fields; repairing and building new hydraulic networks, like in the south of Guantanamo city, among others, however, it doesn’t seem as if any of this will resolve the crisis in the short-term.

While thousands of liters of water are still being lost in leaks which still continue to exist in the out-dated national water distribution network, the Cuban people are being called to save as much as they can.

The reality here is that in spite of this subject being talked about a lot in the media, and the fact that the land is clearly dry, the miserable state of dams (Ciego de Avila and Sancti Spiritus being in the most critical condition), there are still a lot of people in Cuba who still aren’t aware of the severity of the situation.

For example, in the city of Guantanamo, water distribution is still every 3 or 4 days, but in Santiago de Cuba, it’s every 15 days and in some places it can even be up to 20 days. Here, a lot of people leave taps running drinking water unnecessarily or have leaks in their homes which they don’t worry about sealing up, without mentioning how water is wasted in the home.

We have to keep on raising people’s awareness, because there are people, at least here in Guantanamo, who believe that the rain we’ve had in the last few days are an omen of better times to come.

If only their good omens were true, but in the meantime, we have to look after the little water we have, because we are an archipelago surrounded by sea, but we can’t drink this water or use it at home, nor can we water crops with it, and even though desalination technology is beginning to take its first steps here in Cuba, there is still a long way to go until it is put into practice, not to mention the fact that we are a very poor country and we will always be behind most of the latest technological breakthroughs.

The Cuban government has been called to accept the financial aid that several international partners have offered and to invest in building new water distribution networks so as to prevent leaks, as well as new canals and dams for collecting and distributing this precious liquid, because it is becoming more and more clear that the disasters are on the horizon, due to climate change which we have provoked ourselves: the human race.

For now, we have no other choice but to save and save some more.


Rosa Martínez

Rosa Martinez: I am another Havana Times contributing writer, university professor and mother of two beautiful and spoiled girls, who are my greatest joy. My favorite passions are reading and to write and thanks to HT I’ve been able to satisfy the second. I hope my posts contribute towards a more inclusive and more just Cuba. I hope that someday I can show my face along with each of my posts, without the fear that they will call me a traitor, because I’m not one.

6 thoughts on “Extreme Drought in Cuba, Many Are Unaware

  • Water meters are not designed to collect revenues for water consumption. They are designed to amortize the debt incurred in building, maintaining and expanding the treatment and delivery system.

  • ‘The Cuban government has been called to accept the financial aid that
    several international partners have offered and to invest in building
    new water distribution networks so as to prevent leaks, as well as new
    canals and dams for collecting and distributing this precious liquid,’

    These Neoliberal vultures want to OWN your water… and see an opportunity to swoop in.

    DON’T let them. You’ll be sorry, if you do.

  • A shame, that.

    Maybe time to install all those fancy water-saver showerheads, everywhere…

  • Due to its extreme poverty and enforced isolation, the cuban state clearly never figured out how to (or be able to afford to) ‘stockpile’ water — or whatever was required — to see the island thru a severe drought.

    Now Cuba remains, as ever, at the mercy of the larger, predatory states surrounding it.

  • Bet no one is telling the Americans (and ok other high flyer tourists) to go easy with the showers…

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