Residents of Cañada Real, one of Europe’s poorest neighbourhoods, living without electricity

Cañada Real, a shantytown on the southern edge of Madrid, is one of Europe’s poorest neighbourhoods and it has been without electricity since October 2nd.

Saida Chadou is one of the town’s 8,000 residents who are forced to use candles every night in the place of lights.

She has a 3-year-old daughter who has a serious lung disease, which requires medical assistance and, crucially, power.

Saida told Euronews how the power outage has affected her.

“It’s a total disgrace for my daughter, a powerlessness, a rage because her life now is the electricity because she has a device that she has to use when she has trouble breathing,” she said.

Saida, who has lived in Spain for 25 years, says the social services haven’t helped her.

“The last time he told me: ‘I know the case and you don’t need to come anymore. If the girl gets sick, you go to the hospital,’” she said.

Like most shantytowns, Cañada Real is an illegal settlement, which means it tends to get overlooked by the authorities.

“There is a case of urban exclusion and it is a problem for the access to services, which is what this neighbourhood doesn’t have,” said Laura Gil, coordinator for the Cañada Real social intervention programme.

Since the beginning of the power outage, the police have been carrying out raids in the area.

Local authorities have said the indoor marijuana farms they have discovered can cause the electricity grid to overload.

Whatever the cause, inhabitants like Saida just want and electricity back.

In 2017, both the national and regional authorities signed an agreement to find solutions for the residents of Cañada Real, but three years later even the most basic needs of its residents have not been met.

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