IRAQ: Water shortage leads people to drink from rivers
18 Feb 2007 12:47:18 GMT
BAGHDAD, 18 February (IRIN) – Umm Muhammad Jalal, 39, starts every day walking to a river 7km away from her temporary home in a displacement camp on the outskirts of Fallujah, 70km west of the capital, Baghdad. Because of severe water shortages, she and many others make the daily trip to the river to collect water for all their needs.
“For the past four months we have been forced to drink, wash and clean with the river water. There is a dire shortage of potable water in Fallujah and nearby cities,” Umm Muhammad said.
“My children are sick with diarrhoea but I have no option. They cannot live without water,” she added. “Aid agencies that were helping us with their trucks of potable water are less and less frequent these days for security reasons. For the same reason, the military doesn’t want the [aid] convoys to get too close to some areas.”
Umm Muhammad knows how dangerous drinking water from the river can be with associated waterborne diseases. But she is desperate and needs water to survive.
“Each day we receive less in assistance. The government is not helping us and we have to find our own ways of surviving. I never imagined that one day I would have to drink water from a dirty river,” she said.
Millions of Iraqis lack potable water and live with bad sewage systems, which have increased the incidence of waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea.
“The water shortage is a real problem in some parts of Iraq as a large part of the country is desert. But the existing networks have also suffered from lack of maintenance or by being destroyed during the war,” said Cedric Turlan, information officer for the NGOs Coordination Committee in Iraq (NCCI).
According to the Ministry of Water Resources, only 32 percent of the Iraqi population has access to clean drinking water, and only 19 percent has access to a good sewage system.
Vulnerable groups, such as internally displaced people (IDPs), have had no choice but to drink from rivers.
Anbar province, where Fallujah is located, and Baghdad are the most affected areas for water supply, according to recent reports released by local and international NGOs.
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