A water rationing regime began today in Caracas and may last as long as six months depending on climatic conditions. During this period, residents throughout the Venezuelan capital and other affected cities will go without running water for as long as 48 hours per week.
The rationing is the latest development in the government’s efforts to combat the effects of an unusually dry rainy season, which Venezuelan meteorologists attribute to the effects of the el niño weather phenomenon. Prior government efforts to curb residential water consumption include a campaign by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez to promote “revolutionary showers”—3-minute showers he says should include “one minute to get wet, another to soap up, and the third to rinse off and avoid stinking.” The ultimate objective of these initiatives is to cut water use by a total of 20 percent in the next few months.
Critics of the Chávez administration contend that the rationing has less to do with weather patterns than with the nationalization of utility companies and the government’s failure to adequately invest in water-related infrastructure over the last decade.
Residents in cities affected by today’s water rationing have been observed stockpiling water in recent days in anticipation of the shortages. People throughout Venezuela have become accustomed to shortages and rationing in other areas, particularly electricity. According to reports, the country’s electricity challenges have led to an increasing number of shortages and widespread blackouts in recent weeks.