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Maisí: Water returns to La Punta

Maisi aguaPunta de Maisí, also known as the terrace of Cuba, has the most beautiful marine terraces on the island, also considered one of the best preserved, since according to experts, it has a variety of unique geological features.

Perhaps all these attributes caused the wrath of Seth (Egyptian God of drought and the desert), which fell upon this porous calcareous plateau composed of red fersialitic soil.

The truth is that Punta de Maisí is becoming drier and hotter. No one can confirm this better than Arsenio Chávez Navarro, who has dealt with the region’s fickle weather for years. The seventy-year-old describes it like this: “The sun wants to crack the rocks open. It rains very little and it gets hotter every year.”

Meteorologist Rolando Baza Pacho puts figures to Arsenio’s description: “Punta de Maisí has an average temperature of 27 Celsius degrees, and precipitation over 700 millimeters, but evaporation from the ground is over 2,300 millimeters, in other words, the soil loses more humidity than it gets.” These weather conditions explain the water stressed soil and the troubles faced by the inhabitants. Just a few months ago, when the drought was at its worse, authorities in Maisí were obliged to juggle the supply water to nearly 1,800 residents.

Water scarcity causes plenty of distress.

“The water trucks would come every three days, and I would fill three 25-litres containers. Then I had to wait until it came again or carry the water from a well that is far away. It was tough,” remembers Yamiris Pérez, a teacher and mother of two children.

Something similar happened to 27-year-old Giorvis Ortiz Matos, who lives with his spouse and four young children. “We can’t wait for the water truck to come again, so I’d carry water from a neighbor’s house 300 meters from here. Many times it was rainwater.”

These problems are now told in the past tense on this plateau in the easternmost part of Cuba. An investment of 2,000,000 Cuban pesos and over 300,000 euros – donated by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) – through the Russian Federation, made possible the construction of a desalination plant to restore the supply of drinking water to Punta de Maisí.

The plant pumps seawater from wells 40 meters deep, drilled on the coastline and, after a complex process, the water is ready for human consumption. Seawater is processed with reverse osmosis, a highly reliable technology with low energy consumption.

The plant, which is expected to operate for 20 years, can process 17 cubic meters of water an hour. The Cuban government plans to set up 80 plants with similar characteristics across the country.

This is one of the initiatives of the Cuban state has taken to tackle climate change, as part of a program known as Tarea Vida (Life Task.” “It has made our lives easier. No more waiting for the water truck and no more carrying water on my shoulders,” Giorvis Ortiz says.

Dr. Daimé Matos Durand, specialist in Comprehensive General Medicine who serves the community of Punta de Maisí, is happy for another reason: “The symptoms of diarrhea and parasites have decreased significantly since the people began drinking desalinated water.”

“Drinking boiled water is not a habit for most of the people here. They are not used to boiling the water from water trucks. But desalinated water is innocuous, and its quality means that no other treatment is required.”


“The talk is that a lot of crops are going to be grown here, like before,” Erasmo Matos Legrá, another local, says. He then points toward a field ready to be planted and then to some metal scaffolding: “This used to be for the covered crops. We used to harvest lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Over there, yucca grew very well.”

And he is right. Fidencio Oliveros Martínez, president of the Municipal Assembly of People’s Power, told Granma that from the Maya river, located at a distance of 20 kilometers, an aqueduct will be built to support the reanimation of food self-sufficiency in Punta de Maisí.

In addition, William Romero Frómeta, development specialist for the Agroforestry Enterprise, revealed that the plan is to resume protected cultivation of vegetable crops, yucca, beans, and a compact area for Cajon nut, in addition to micro-milking and cattle ranching.

The wrath of the god of drought and the desert may continue to be felt on the most beautiful maritime terraces here. But it won’t stop the impressive calcareous plateau from greening the landscape. Another challenge for Maisí, once the water returns to La Punta.


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