Improving lives with clean water for all

“We are so happy to learn that we will have clean water daily.” – A community member

Venezuela has been in a severe socio-political and economic crisis for several years. With an exodus of more than 7.72 million people, the refugee crisis in Venezuela is the largest ever in Latin America and one of the largest in the world. Within the country, approximately 19 million people (66% of the population) require humanitarian assistance.

The ongoing crisis was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving thousands of people unable to access essential water, sanitation and health services. Among the most affected are Indigenous communities. Due to historical marginalization, a lack of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) infrastructure predating and exacerbated by the pandemic and humanitarian crisis, and severe climate challenges resulting in drought throughout the region, it is extremely difficult for Indigenous Wayuu populations living in the border areas between Venezuela and Colombia to meet essential needs.

The Wayuu Taya Foundation was founded in 2002 with the objective of improving the living conditions of the Indigenous communities in Latin America while maintaining and respecting their traditions, cultures and beliefs.

In 2022, CDP awarded a grant from the COVID-19 Response Fund to The Wayuu Taya Foundation to provide increased and sustainable access to free, clean water to approximately 10,900 beneficiaries in Indigenous communities in the Mara Region of Venezuela to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

CDP-funded water truck. Photo by Wayuu Taya Foundation

With funding from the grant, Wayuu Taya purchased and retrofitted a water truck and developed a program that sells high-quality clean water in the more affluent parts of the city, a customary practice in this part of Venezuela. The proceeds are used to rehabilitate and maintain revitalized wells and provide handwashing stations. The profits also allow them to sustain daily water donations to vulnerable communities, schools, elderly centers and health facilities. This innovative program showcases a self-sufficient, sustainable, market-based approach to addressing water scarcity and providing crucial water access to meet community needs. Through the profits from water sales, Wayuu Taya had already donated 938,800 liters of clean water to 42,954 people in a year, significantly improving overall well-being and public health.

Before this program, residents in small, isolated villages had to trek long distances daily to collect contaminated water, resulting in increased protection and safety risks, lower school attendance, and widespread health issues. Wayuu Taya’s water truck, which generates a consistent source of income and allows the Wayuu Taya Foundation to provide a steady supply of clean water, relieved residents from their daily struggles and helped them combat the pandemic. Children in the village are now healthier, more attentive and able to attend school instead of walking long distances in search of water.

A group of men working to refurbish a water well. Photo by Wayuu Taya Foundation

Wayuu Taya also refurbished two water wells located in Mirabello and Apuna farms. Revitalizing and reinstating the wells ensures sustainable clean water access for more than 1,480 individuals in the surrounding communities.

In addition, Wayuu Taya installed 30 new portable handwashing stations in communities, schools and other institutions, benefiting 6,840 people and further promoting good sanitation and hygiene practices among the community members. The stations helped combat the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases, improved overall living conditions, and enhanced cleanliness.

Through the activities supported by the CDP grant, Wayuu Taya reached 11,320 people and significantly improved their overall health and well-being. These efforts are part of The Wayuu Taya Foundation’s larger initiative to provide long-term water solutions for Wayuu communities. The project addresses immediate water needs and empowers and uplifts local communities, enriching their quality of life and promoting responsible management of precious water resources.

CDP is proud to support The Wayuu Taya Foundation’s efforts to provide immediate relief to vulnerable communities and empower them with sustainable enterprise-minded solutions. The impacts of their work will extend far beyond the grant project period, fortifying communities’ well-being and enhancing resilience against current and future crises.

Thanks to CDP’s support, The Wayuu Taya Foundation experienced a significant boost in resources and partnerships. Serving as a catalyst, the grant helped the organization secure more funding from donors and philanthropic organizations, sparked a wave of volunteerism within the community as people dedicated their time and energy to help implement the program, and opened the door to new partnerships with local NGOs and community-based organizations, which are vital for aligning efforts, exchanging knowledge and resources, and maximizing project outcomes.

Story by Ruja Entcheva

(Photo: Children standing in line at a handwashing station during school. Photo by Andry Jons, The Wayuu Taya Foundation)