Drought-stricken Cuba prays for rain

Friday 03rd Jun 2011 by theWeather Club

The prolonged dry spell afflicting Cuba has been billed as the country's worse drought in fifty years, as tens of thousands of families in capital city Havana were found to be almost entirely dependant on water trucks for their cooking and cleaning. The drought, which started in 2009, came as historically low levels of precipitation for the country left reservoirs so depleted that come May this year they were down to a fifth of their normal levels.

In April the state-run newspaper Granma told the BBC that up to 70% of water pipes supplying the capital were leaking and in urgent need of repair – a situation not helped by the fact that the network was already in poor condition.

Meanwhile residents have been filling up from the road deliveries, using buckets and bottles to transport the water they need back home.

"It's completely out of control," said homemaker Ana Gomez, who used some of the water taken from the truck to start her washing machine before returning for more water. "Just imagine that you can't wash when you want to, you have to wash when you are able to."

Water distribution manager Esteban Hernandez told Reuters the drought had lead to water being "taken from one watershed to another."

"That is why there are so many pipes flowing into trucks here," he explained to the news agency, as a fleet of cistern trucks filled up from those few pipes that still had water running.

Cubans are hoping that the rainy season expected over the coming weeks will bring some relief to their empty pipes and parched fields. However, the BBC's Cuban correspondent has warned that even a normal rainfall will not be enough to fill up the reservoirs.