- The indigenous Wayúu population (Uriana ethnic group), benefited by the Mujer y Hogar Foundation, is made up of 28 families and a total of 251 indigenous people from the peninsula of La Guajira. This territory is hot and dry, and rainfall is very scarce.
- The community speaks the Wayúunaiki language and some members speak spanish. This society is organized in at least 30 clans called e’iruku, among which we find the Uriana clan.
- They have legal autonomy recognized by the Colombian constitution. Therefore, they apply their own law.
- The community survives mainly on fishing activities, raising goats and the production of typical Wayúu handicrafts, such as backpacks.
The Wayúu community (Uriana), benefited by the Mujer y Hogar Foundation, live under conditions that can put their health at risk. Their houses are made out of yotojoro (heart of the cactus) and they do not have electricity nor water.
The Department of La Guajira is economically speaking one of the poorest in Colombia. The inhabitants of this area live on a day-to-day basis trying to meet basic needs, without thinking about what will happen the next day. The family income is based on fishing, raising goats and the sale of handicrafts. That income is not enough to cover basic needs such as food and health. Most families eat only one meal a day; we saw cases of children eating sand due to hunger. This entails consequences of malnutrition and undernourishment, factors that decrease the life expectancy of children and adults.
Water access conditions
The Department of the Alta Guajira has very limited access to drinking water. There are no rivers. To meet their needs, the community goes to some lakes called “Jagüeyes”, a source of water for goats. The water in these lakes is not suitable for human consumption. Wells are also dug nearby with the same quality of water. In the area there is also a significant amount of waste that contaminates the water and the environment.
Health care access for this community is extremely difficult. Seeing a doctor requires using personal transportation and getting to the nearest health center, located in Cabo de la Vela, which is approximately 30 minutes from Ranchería la Playa. Given these conditions, health care is hard to reach for most of them, which causes a high mortality risk.
In this area, access to education is very difficult due to two factors: distance and the quality of education. To get to a school, most children need to go along a significant distance on foot, this under the heat and exposed to dangers of the area in terms of safety. For this reason, many children cannot attend classes. Despite some initiatives by the local population, study conditions in primary and secondary schools are very rudimentary, which translates into an unequal quality of education compared to other departments in the country. Faced with this situation, many children work to support their families economically through fishing and the production of handicrafts. The region is also characterized by a lack of connectivity in telephone services and internet access.
The survival of the Wayúu community (Uriana), benefited by the Foundation, is mainly based on 3 activities: grazing, fishing and the production of handicrafts. The level of education does not allow access to other job opportunities. It is common to see children who financially support their parents in these activities, in detriment of their education.