The senator of the governing Historical Pact, Martha Peralta Epieyu, recently filed a bill to guarantee access to water in the La Guajira region in Colombia. In the event, the politician, originally from that department, was accompanied by other congress members from the same party, members of the water emergency commission, and the Wayuu community, to which Peralta herself belongs.
Last week, together, they filed a bill aimed at ensuring dignified access to drinking water in the department, a region traditionally affected by adverse weather causing cyclic droughts. This year, the crisis has worsened due to the El Niño phenomenon, which at this time begins its most critical phase regarding climatic impact in Colombia.
Martha Peralta is a member of the Indigenous Movimiento Alternativo Indigena y Social (MAIS) party, which is part of the Historical Pact government coalition that supports President Gustavo Petro. During the presentation, the senator spoke about the urgent need to address the structural problems in her department and thanked the national government’s willingness to support and accompany these initiatives aimed at ending decades of suffering due to the lack of this resource.
Historical Debt with La Guajira
During the bill presentation, which had the support of more than 20 congress members, Esmeralda Hernandez, also a senator from the Historical Pact coalition, stated that the government’s support reaffirms the need to settle “the historical debt that exists in this department.”
In this regard, the representative added that the project will be defended through all necessary means to achieve a prompt solution to the crisis. Martha Peralta, the bill’s presenter, recalled that according to the Ministry of Health’s figures, “in the analysis of the mortality burden in children under five for the period 2017-2022, out of the 1,935 deaths due to malnutrition reported in the country, 22.5% (435) occurred in La Guajira, all of them due to causes associated with the lack of water.”
The proposed law not only has the support of members of the ruling Historical Pact but also representatives from other political groups. During the bill’s presentation, Senator Karina Espinosa of the Liberal Party congratulated the government for joining efforts to support the project, acknowledging the serious consequences in that department due to the lack of water, such as respiratory diseases, malnutrition, and poisoning, especially in children.
Ministry of Housing, City, and Territory, the Responsible Entity
The bill proposes that the government, through the Ministry of Housing, City, and Territory, be responsible for fulfilling the 20 points of the legislative article concerning the administration of water resources and basic sanitation.
This responsibility must be carried out in a coordinated and complementary manner with the respective territorial entities and indigenous reserves, with the participation of ethnic authorities in the region.
The project also seeks compliance with the provisions of Law 142 of 1994, ensuring that in territories where the provision of this basic service cannot be guaranteed, access to water will be ensured through alternative means of supply, such as tankers, treated bottled water and collapsible tanks, among others.
The bill’s presenters aim for the final text to be approved before the end of this year, thus calling on all political groups in Colombia to unite in consensus to solve the water problem on the Guajira Peninsula.