Our idea is to attack the existing problems of drinking water consumption and provide solutions to the communities.
SCENES shines a spotlight on youth around the world that are breaking down barriers and creating change. The character-driven short films will inspire and amaze, as these young change-makers tell their remarkable stories.
For as long as he can remember, Jose Diaz never had running water growing up in his mother's house in Venezuela. Access to clean and safe water was always challenging for his family, who often went for days without a fresh supply.
Venezuela's water crisis has plagued many communities in the country for decades. Growing up, Jose was told that this situation was normal. However, he did not accept the status quo. So, he decided to do something about it.
"When you understand that these are not the ideal, correct, or adequate situations, it inspires you to try to improve not only your quality of life but that of others," Jose explains.
In 2020, Jose founded the Agua Segura initiative along with four friends. The project aims to provide clean drinking water to affected communities throughout Venezuela.
"Our idea is to attack the existing problems of drinking water consumption and provide solutions to the communities," Jose tells Scenes.
A targeted solution
Jose, a civil engineering student, compiled a structured system to help resolve the water crisis in Venezuela. Besides providing water purification units to vulnerable communities, the project also focuses on research and development.
"What we do is give tools to the people who live in the communities so that they learn about the use of drinking water," Jose explains. The team believes that diagnosing the problem and raising awareness creates long-term structural change that is more beneficial to the communities in the long run.
Agua Segura works across eight communities in Venezuela, helping up to 2,000 people get access to fresh running water. "We come with instruments, review, search, and seek to understand the problems and needs and where the project fits best," Jose explains.
Targeted solutions are beneficial to communities, as many of them have different water access issues. Unsanitary water is consumed by many people in the country as there is often no other choice.
A grave water crisis
Sara Figuera, a mother of four living in Venezuela's capital, experiences this problem daily. "We have been without water for a week now," Sara says. "it comes out dirty, really dirty, kind of brown," she adds.
An investigation by Transparency International reported that only 18% of Venezuelans have access to safe drinking water. Contaminated water has made life very difficult for Sarah, her family, and millions of others in Venezuela.
Due to the unclean water in the country, many people suffer from dangerous waterborne illnesses. Not only does this harm their health, but it also disrupts the everyday socio-economic activities of their communities. Children cannot go to school because they don't have clean clothes and people go hungry because they do not have fresh water for cooking.
Dr Joiner Castro, a doctor who works with Agua Segura, explains how people in affected communities suffered before implementing the programme.
"Before the safe water treatment plant was installed, people had serious health problems associated with the water issue," he says.
Since the adoption of the programme, many communities have reported a dramatic improvement in their quality of life. The Agua Segura team said communities had witnessed a 40% drop in child-related waterborne infections since their programme began.
"With the installation of the new purification plants, they tell us that, for example, the health problems they had been experiencing for a long time have progressively disappeared," Joiner tells Scenes.
These communities have also developed a better quality of life since they no longer spend so much of their time, money and effort trying to source clean water for their everyday needs.
"Now these people have the benefit of safe water where they can get guaranteed, potable drinking water less than five minutes from their homes," Jose explains.
The Agua Segura team wants to create a better future for the people of Venezuela. They believe the first step to achieving that is helping people access safe and clean water.
"The idea of all of this is to find a way to continue growing, to help the communities, to generate a positive impact," Jose says.
The team wants to expand their operations to other Latin American countries experiencing severe water shortages. It's an ambitious objective, but Agua Segura is making great strides toward reaching it.