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How the water crisis in Venezuela brought a nation to the brink of collapse

The administration has maintained debilitating prices as well as exchange control measures, which fuel the black market, inflation, and shortages. In its quest to create a social system that is 21st century, the government has continued to implement in the form of ad-hoc and expensive nationalisation programs.

The sum of billions of dollars could be removed from the nation through litigation to seize land and assets and an accumulation of outstanding contracts and bills have led to speculation that the state-owned company for oil, PDVSA, may fail to pay its interest on its loans.

Critical shortages

There is no sector that better reflects the goals, limitations and eventually the demise of Hugo Chavez – and subsequently Nicolas Maduro – than Venezuela’s always rationed water. In the midst of a drought brought on through El Nino the country’s government has announced the extension of Easter vacations during March as well as the closing of malls, as well as a shorter work time in April.

The measures were designed to save electricity since the level of water within Guri dam Guri dam for hydroelectric power, which generates 65percent of the nation’s power, has fallen to levels that are critical.

How low could Guri go? Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

In 2007, 2010, and at present Guri’s reserves of water dropped to 244 meters above the sea, a fraction over the limit of 240 metres at which it is required to reduce its power generation. It has to shut down eight turbines, resulting in the loss of 5,000 MW.

A turbulent past

Venezuela is a huge source of water. However, it is it is located in the wrong region. According to estimates from the government that 85% of the water resources are in the south-east region of the country, where there is just 10 percent or less of its population. In contrast, only 15% of the water resources are found in the fast-growing urbanized north in which the majority of the population lives.

All the is water … is in the wrong spot. Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

The development of infrastructure in the 1960s and 1950s helped improve the supply of water, allowing the majority of Venezuelan households with water access. But the investment and planning process could not meet the demand, and the average consumption was approximately 350 litres a day ( 450 litres daily for the 4 million residents of the capital city Caracas).

In 1989, widespread anger over service inefficiencies, shortages pollution, shady tapping, and the deterioration of standards of quality led to the creation of an entirely New regulatory system. This dispersed the state water service monopoly and entrusted ten local utilities and was the birth of a new agency: Empresa Hidrologica de Venezuela (Hydrogen).

The overcrowded federal district was aided through Hidrocapital, which was established in 1991. The organization emphasized the renovation of aqueducts that brought water from the Tuy River basin. Tuy River basin complex. However, water bans that were constantly imposed and protests by the public continued throughout the country during the 1990s. The widespread opposition to privatisation of water-related services made it hard for the government to raise foreign capital.

The Chavez years

Much like other things in Venezuela, the policy on water changed under Chavez’s presidency. The government made radical changes to deal with an ever-growing water crisis that mostly affected people living in shanty towns that were a source to support Chavez’s government. Chavez government.

Following an research study in 2001 conducted by the National Statistics Institute found that 231 of the 335 municipalities in Venezuela were lacking in sanitation and water service, 4.2m people had no access to water pipes and 8m had inadequate sanitary facilities A Presidential decree promulgated the Water and Sanitation Law. To reflect the vision of the government’s popular empowerment and the concept of a ” new geometry of power” the law decentralised the water policy down to the level of 7,000 local “roundtables” (associations involved in monitoring the water supply at the local levels) connected with the water corporation of Venezuela, Hidroven.

It became the duty of local communities to assess their priorities and needs in terms of investment. Parallel to the localisation of management of utilities, the government has nationalised key sectors such as electricity, in 2007.

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Jane S. King

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