Water has featured greatly in the news recently. Too much of it in some places: UK, Pakistan, China, Nepal, Sudan, but not enough in others: Lesotho, Swaziland, Djibouti, and today we hear that the president of Mauritania has asked for national prayers to ensure the rainy season starts soon and provides enough rain.
Countries that have neither too much nor too little have other problems with it.
In Kenya, there is a worry that the Anopheles mosquito, which spreads malaria, will become adapted to living in polluted water and invade previously relatively malaria-free areas like Nairobi. Malaria is now the most common disease in Kibera, one of Nairobi’s slums.
Again in Nairobi, in another slum, there have been demonstrations protesting over cuts in the water supply. There had been cuts for five days in an effort to stop illegal connections to the mains.
In Jordan hundreds of people have been taken to hospital with severe diarrhoea caused by a parasite in the water supply. The parasite, Cryptosporidium, is resistant to traditional water treatment.
In Senegal a water channel running through the centre of Dakar, the capital, has become an open sewer. People, not realising it was intended as a recreation area nor understanding the implications of polluting the water, have dumped rubbish in it, so much so that the water has become stagnant in places allowing mosquitoes to breed.
It’s not surprising then that organisations such as WaterAid exist, whose vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation.
When you read about people being delighted that they can go three times a day to collect clean water from a hand pump, you realise we sometimes need to take a moment to understand how much most of us take safe water for granted, whereas for large parts of the world it is a luxury.