Venezuela is facing a water crisis due to years of underinvestment in infrastructure and maintenance by the state-owned water companies. This has led to water shortages and rationing across the country.
In response to this crisis, Laurencio Sánchez designed the Lata de Agua, a system which captures and filters rainfall for use in schools and other community buildings. This system provides a reliable source of clean water for communities which suffer from water scarcity. Lata de Agua started operating in 2019 and has already had a positive impact on the lives of students and teachers in the three schools where it has been installed.
Many Venezuelans are unable to obtain a reliable water supply due to recurring problems with state-owned company networks.
Water was so scarce at Unidad Educativa Nuestra Seora del Encuentro, a school in Petare, one of Venezuela’s poorest neighborhoods, that pupils had to carry water from home to drink and wash their hands throughout the day.
However, Laurencio Sánchez, a Venezuelan architect, developed the Lata de Agua – this translates to “Can of Water” – method, which catches and filters rainfall for use in schools to provide communities with a constant flow of clean water.
“It is a sustainable, alternative, complementary water-supply model based on the collection, storage and treatment of rainwater in vulnerable communities and their institutions,” explained Sánchez.
“The model offers, at the local level, a unique possibility of obtaining abundant and high-quality water for at least six months of the year in these communities, not only in vulnerable communities but in all places that suffer from water scarcity.”
“We no longer suspend school activities; we work our daily workday. The benefit has been enormous for the school,” she says.
Rainwater is used to water the plants a vegetable patch at the Unidad Educativa Nuestra Seora del Encuentro, another Petare school, to help feed its 850 students.
The crops would dry up before the project arrived. “We planted maize, but there wasn’t enough water because, due to the sector’s difficulties and the reality we lived in, we had to ration.” “We had to choose between the kitchen, bathrooms, toilet, and vegetable patch,” explains headmistress Mara Inés Guerrero.
“But thanks to this we can sow better, have higher yields and thus achieve better nutrition.”
Lata de Agua began operations in three schools and one health center in 2019.
It has transformed the daily lives of students and teachers at the Fermn Toro school in Petare.
The school’s headmistress, Dayani Echezura, says the organizations would sometimes go up to eight months without water before the Lata de Agua project was installed, but they now have a constant flow.