5 South American Countries Facing Water Shortages

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Currently, an estimated 137,256 Paraguayans do not have reliable access to safe, clean drinking water.

Paraguay is a landlocked country in central South America with an estimated population of 6,862,812. 22.2% of the population lives below the poverty line. Secondary school enrollment is below the region’s average, leading to unequal income distribution. Additionally, the country suffers from low immunization rates and poor sanitation practices. Many rural communities experience limited power and water supplies. Government efforts aimed at lowering child and maternal mortality have resulted in greater educational attainment for women and increased use of contraception; it is hoped that these improvements continue into other avenues of the nation’s health care system.  



Currently, an estimated 4,181,641 Peruvians do not have reliable access to safe, clean drinking water.

The western South American country of Peru is home to the famous ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu and a portion of the Amazon Rainforest.  It is also home to around 32,166,473 inhabitants of Spanish, native, and mixed origin. The country is comprised of growing urban centers and rural indigenous communities. 22.7% of the population lives below the poverty line. In 2005, the government began measures to improve sanitation and water access, which has helped to decrease the malnutrition rate. However, educational quality and child labor are still significant concerns.



Currently, an estimated 27,605 Surinamers do not have reliable access to safe, clean drinking water.

The Republic of Suriname is a small South American country north of Brazil. Its estimated population of 552,112 is primarily composed of the descendants of escaped slaves (Maroons), Indians (Hindustani), and Creoles. The country’s economy is centered around mining, and the main exports are gold, oil, and bauxite (a rock from which one extracts aluminum).  Within this pluralistic society, the Maroons, most of whom live in rural interior regions, have the greatest need for aid. Compared to other ethnic groups, Maroons have the least access to educational resources, potable water, electricity, sanitation, and healthcare. 70% of the population lives below the poverty line.



Currently, an estimated 1,096,965 Bolivians do not have reliable access to safe, clean drinking water.

Bolivia is a land-locked nation in South America. The population is 10,969,649, with 38.6% living below the poverty line. While Spanish is the official language, a total of 36 indigenous languages also have official status – the most common of these are Guarani, Aymara, and Quechua. Bolivia is rich in natural minerals, and as a result mining and smelting are important industries. Industry practices have led to extensive water pollution, affecting both potable water supplies and farming irrigation.  



Currently, an estimated 2,106,580 Ecuadorians do not have reliable access to potable water.

Ecuador, a country in northwestern South America, has a population of 16,080,778. The country includes the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Ecuador’s economy is focused on petroleum, which currently accounts for more than 50% of the country’s total exports. Pollution from oil production is threatening areas of the Amazon Basin and Galapagos Islands and is causing widespread water pollution. Furthermore, some public hospitals are inadequately equipped to accommodate the high demand of patients. While private clinics are much more efficient, most of the population cannot afford the medical bills. Currently, 23% of Ecuadorian children under the age of 5 are malnourished and malaria is a constant health threat. 



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