Amazon tribes in Ecuador suffer water shortage following massive oil spill


Indigenous communities in the Amazon region of Ecuador have been suffering from a lack of clean water after a massive oil spill– the biggest in the area since 2004– polluted their local rivers. With this, the tribes have filed a lawsuit against the government and oil companies involved.

The pollution in Orellana Province near the Peruvian border came after a landslide on April 7, which caused three ruptured pipelines. As a result, 15 000 barrels of oil spilled into nearby rivers, including Amazon tributary, the Napo.

"The families living on the river banks are lacking food and no longer know where to find water to drink, or with which to bathe," said Marcia Andi, a Kichwa and leader of the Mushuk Llacta community.

About 27 000 people from the tribes of Kichwa and Shuar residing along the Coca and Napo rivers are affected by the spill, according to Amazon Frontlines NGO lawyer, Maria Espinosa.

The victims are seeking prompt measures to guarantee a supply of water, food, and access to health, Espinosa said, adding that assistance previously provided was insufficient for the communities' necessities.

PetroEcuador, a state oil company involved in the lawsuit, said it had provided around 500 000 liters (110 000 gallons) of water in containers to 59 indigenous communities.

The company also stated that one of its damaged pipelines had been repaired, and it had started environmental cleanup that also included the Quijos River.

OCP Ecuador, which was also involved in the suit, owned one of the damaged pipelines.

"Although the rupture of the pipelines was not intentional, the authorities and companies named in the lawsuit were acting negligently and omitting information about the situation," said Espinosa as communities also accuse the companies of not informing them.

Adding to the suffering of the community is the COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected more than 30 000 people in the country. "We don't go to the village. We eat the fish we manage to catch in the river and now we have been hit by this oil spill," said one resident.

Featured image credit: Telmo Ibarburu


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One Comment

  1. Originally, this mess was caused by the greedy Rockefeller owned Chevron/Texaco rape of the upper Amazon, which Ecuador sued & was awarded $80Bn in damages though Texaco never paid, using bent US Courts & Lawyers to get the case dismissed.
    Nevertheless, when Texaco decided the wells were no longer profitable they flogged them off cheap, pollution et al, to the incompetent State owned PETRO-ECUADOR, who are obviously showing the world how much they’ve learnt.

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