Ciudad Ojeda, where around 216,489 people live, is a city in Venezuela located on the north-eastern shore of Lake Maracaibo in the Zulia State.
South of the city lies the Lagunillas oil field, the largest old field in Latin America. As a result, the city is home to many oil workers and their families. Over the years, the city was developed to improve living circumstances for its growing population. However, the city has also been affected by the country’s deep social and economic crisis.
Since 1983, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Ciudad Ojeda.
Families living in the area are dependent on the oil economy.
During the good times, the demands of the oil fields have brought about extensive employment opportunities to the people of Ciudad Ojeda. However, depending greatly on the oil industry as a primary contributor to the economy, has its risks as oil prices change.
Poverty thus persists. Families have been forced to sell furniture and even barter trade what’s left of their belongings to get food. Young adults struggle to provide for their families, and so, their children have also faced many challenges.
While the oil fields have provided opportunities of employment for many, it has also brought on several health and environmental threats. Exposure to contaminated water, land, and food from living near oil extraction activities has left families reeling from various health ailments.
To worsen matters, the unstable economic conditions have caused further social and political crises across Venezuela, impacting availability of basic services, such as access to medical care. There are more than 7 million Venezuelans in need of humanitarian aid. Many of these live in the region around Ciudad Ojeda.