Droughts keep affecting Guantánamo

The Guantánamo Province located in the Eastern part of Cuba has been affected by intense and lengthy droughts. Local dams are currently filled up to a mere 41%. Francisco Osmali Cusco Matos, head of the local water management company (Empresa de Aprovechamiento Hidráulico) stated a few weeks ago that “due to no rainfall in the first trimester of 2016, the situation can deteriorate since droughts have lasted over 17 months”.

Photo: Mario Hechavarria Driggs
Photo: Mario Hechavarria Driggs

The provincial government has already adopted measures to supply the vital resource to the local population, consisting in water savings and supply by water tankers (so called pipas).

“We’re tapping water into buckets here in Niceto Pérez municipality in the La Yaya region. Water tankers arrive twice a week but it doesn’t cover our need” said María del Carmen Botero, a human rights activist.

At the same time, the Ministry of Public Health has been informing the local population of their obligation to boil water in order to prevent outbreak of epidemics, in particular gastrointestinal diseases. Despite this, there are already registered cases of both haemorrhagic conjunctivitis and diarrhoea.

According to María del Carmen, droughts have also been causing severe damages to agriculture and cattle breeding: “Crops are endangered, particularly coffee and cocoa beans, two basic consumer and export products.“ What is more, animals are feeble and have been dying despite all the measures taken to protect cattle.“

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