As the scorching heat of the Caribbean summer intensifies, over 100,000 residents in Havana find themselves without access to water, adding to the mounting tensions in Cuba’s capital city while the crisis-stricken government races to find a solution.
Reports from state-run media indicate that the water shortages, which are affecting between 100,000 and 200,000 individuals in Havana, equivalent to approximately 10 percent of the city’s population, can be attributed to the deteriorating infrastructure on the island.
Local officials cite various factors contributing to the water scarcity, including malfunctioning motorised pump stations, leaky pipes, and the effects of drought induced by climate change.
Cuba, a communist-run country, is currently grappling with one of its severest economic crises in decades. The nation faces challenges posed by stringent United States sanctions, the lingering impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and a struggling tourism industry. Shortages of food, medicine, and fuel have become commonplace, while skyrocketing inflation has rendered the limited supplies unaffordable for many.
Water scarcity and disruptions are already prevalent in rural provinces, where outdated infrastructure and drought conditions force residents to rely on water trucks, local rivers, streams, and shallow wells.
Over the weekend, officials from Havana visited crucial water infrastructure sites in the city, as reported by the online news outlet Cubadebate. However, they cautioned that there would be no quick fixes to the problem.
Luis Antonio Torres, a prominent official from the provincial communist party, explained, “The installation of 23 new motorised water pumps will help resolve the problem in the city and allow us to have reserves, but stability will come only once they are installed.” Torres also noted that the first batch of pumps is expected to arrive at the end of July.
In recent years, frequent power outages have disrupted the water supply across the country. However, the Cuban government asserts that the electric grid is better prepared for the summer this time around.
Nevertheless, the local government in Havana reported last week that energy consumption was exceeding the forecasted budget by 25 percent, urging residents to conserve energy whenever possible.
Blackouts have long been a contentious issue in Cuba and have contributed to the growing discontent that culminated in anti-government protests across the island, including the significant demonstrations in July 2021, believed to be the largest since the 1959 revolution led by former leader Fidel Castro.
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