Editor’s note: NB Power sources coal from the Cerrejón coal mine in La Guajira, Colombia. Read more here.
How do you wash your hands if you don’t have any water? How do you purchase enough food for your family in order to comply with social distancing when you have no income earning possibilities? Wayúu and Afro-descendant communities in La Guajira, Colombia, a region already struggling with malnutrition and water scarcity, are especially vulnerable in the face of COVID-19.
In order to slow the spread of the virus, rural families in Colombia are being ordered to stay at home and do their shopping one day a week. Malnutrition in Wayuu and Afro Colombian communities is an urgent concern, with many unable to afford sufficient food under normal circumstances, let alone a week’s supply. They urgently need your help to protect their families from the economic and health impacts of COVID-19.
Communities living near the Cerrejón open pit coal mine have precarious access to water. Mining companies have displaced communities and seized water sources for over thirty years. Thousands of families have to buy potable water, which is already becoming harder to find as people stockpile to prepare for COVID-19.
Most families in the region live well below the poverty line. Calls to “stay home” during COVID-19 do not account for people who struggle to put food on the table every day. COVID-19 is impacting employment in the region, putting already vulnerable people at risk for serious food shortages.
With your help, we can raise money to help provide families with water, personal hygiene products, and food. We are a group of European and North American activists and NGOs who have done solidarity work in La Guajira for over a decade. We are in touch with our local partners about people’s needs during COVID-19.
We will split the donations raised among local leaders and organizations who are working on the ground to address people’s basic needs. Our partners will distribute water, food staples, and hygiene products to the highest need families.
Emma Banks is a cultural anthropologist who does research and solidarity work in mine-affected communities in Colombia.