Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Providing access to safe drinking water in El Salvador

Today National Public Radio ran a feature story on the problems of making safe drinking water accessible in El Salvador. Here's an excerpt:

El Salvador isn't a place where you'd expect to find water problems. After all, it gets nearly six feet of rainfall each year. But Ricardo Navarro says clean water is in short supply. Contaminated water kills thousands of Salvadorans every year. Most are children.

"When we talk about the water problem in El Salvador, we are talking about that: the lack of clean water to drink," says Navarro, president of an environmental group called the Salvadoran Center for Appropriate Technology.

He says the country has failed to protect a precious resource. Farmers have cut down forests that used to store rain water. Ranchers have allowed their livestock to pollute rivers. Communities have put latrines too close to shallow wells.

"Big enterprisesÂ… use the river as a place where they can throw everything. So whatever chemical goes in, it goes out," Navarro says.

The story describes a solution through the drilling of deep wells, but also points out problems that poor communities may have in maintaining such wells.

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