Residents of Sopapo, a community in the Batabanó municipality of western Cuba, say they are being forced to pay for drinking water because of frequent interruptions in the supply.
The area has been left without mains water on numerous occasions through the summer months. Repairs to the pumping system have failed to fix the problem.
The municipal authorities supply water delivered in tanks on trucks or towed by tractors, but there is never enough to go round the 2,000 residents.
According to local man Michel Alarico, whenever one of the vehicles shows up, “it’s difficult to reach it because a massive crowd gathers in a matter of seconds”.
“It’s almost impossible to get drinking water because you have to collect it in buckets, and by the time you’ve done a few journeys, the supply is exhausted,” he said.
To solve the problem, neighbours band together to bribe the tanker drivers to park close to their homes, he added.
Locals say they have no choice but to buy water privately.
Resident Robelio Durán described how a farmers’s collective had spotted the gap in the market, and turned up with tractor-drawn tankers offering water for a flat fee of 100 pesos (four US dollars).
Municipal workers did the same on July 26, a national holiday. When they arrived, driving their government-owned trucks, they argued that they were on their day off and had brought their own water to sell.
Durán said residents were in no position to turn the offer down.
“You just have to resign yourself to it,” he added.
According to 2012 data from Cuba’s national statistics office, 77 per cent of the country's rural population had access to clean drinking water, and only 37 per cent had a mains supply at home.
Osniel Carmona Breijo is an independent journalist reporting from Havana and Mayabeque province.