A close look at the country’s top water-related challenges – and the government’s efforts to address them.
Colombia has long counted water as an abundant resource, experiencing roughly three times the global average of rainfall per country. But the geographic distribution of Colombia’s water is lopsided, with the large majority of fresh water aquifers located in the Amazon Basin where the population is sparse. Rural areas are notably underserved and 74% of coffee farmers surveyed cited droughts as a growing threat to their livelihood. Most of Colombia’s wastewater treatment is lacking due to a low number of basic treatment facilities, but systems like those in Medellín offer a model for the rest of the nation.
What the Government Is Doing
President Iván Duque has addressed water scarcity in specific regions by launching a $115 million plan to achieve universal water access in La Guajira by 2024, as well as the Bicentenary Water Pact to guarantee access to potable water in Norte de Santander. The government created the National Council for the Fight Against Deforestation, followed by the rollout of Operation Artemisa, a military-led strategy to end deforestation and protect water sources. Colombia’s water resources at the federal level fall under the Environment and Sustainable Development Ministry, which exerts weak oversight over 33 autonomous regional corporations that run regional environmental programs.
Colombia’s Water Hot Spots