Looking for Sean McLachlan? He mostly hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog these days, but feel free to nose around this blog for some fun older posts!

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Friday, 4 July 2008

International Year of Sanitation

If you've been reading my blog for a while you know I'm planning a big trip to Ethiopia, although I won't be able to go for more than a year since we're researching in Oxford for most of 2009. I always keep a close eye on East African news to learn a bit before I go, and I came across a depressing article in BBC's Focus on Africa Magazine about the main river in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, having become an open sewer. The reporter interviewed a family living in the slum right next to the sewer/river, who have to haul water from a pipe a kilometer away. While their drinking water may (or may not) be clean, they still have to deal with the stench.

This is all too common in the developing world, and "First World" water is none too clean what with all the chemicals in our water table. In Varanasi I saw people bathing in the Ganges not a hundred meters downriver from where bodies were being burned. In Nepal I saw hillsides covered in human filth, with pigs rooting around in it and the village water supply flowing nearby.

That's why the UN declared 2008 to be the International Year of Sanitation. No, I didn't know that until today either. Basically they want to teach people how to keep their water sources clean. Not a bad idea, but a little leveling out of wealth might help too. How about fewer wars and more water treatment plants? Or fewer billionaires and more jobs with living wages? Nah, no government would ever go for that.

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