Thursday, January 21, 2010

Crisis in Haiti Shows the Importance of Drinking Water

Last week’s devastating earthquake in Haiti once again illustrated the importance of water following a disaster. ABC’s World News Tonight on Tuesday, January 19 ( reported that water is in short supply all over the capital city of Port-au-Prince. In some cases, those with access to well water were charging people to use the water and had no guarantees that the water was even safe to drink; others waited in line for hours for access to a functioning pump or for bottled water. It made me think back to the hurricanes of 2005, namely Hurricane Katrina, when floodwaters polluted drinking water supplies and created a dangerous shortage. Unlike a hurricane, an earthquake arrives without warning, and is an unpredictable kind of natural disaster, making planning for a response more challenging. The outpouring of support and aid from all over the world has been outstanding; but now comes the challenge of ensuring all those affected are receiving the basic necessities of food and water. It will be interesting to see as time goes on how Haiti’s infrastructure, including drinking water, is rebuilt and if contingencies for a disaster of this magnitude are put into place.

If we can take anything from this tragic event, I hope it’s to truly appreciate the luxury we have of going to the tap and filling a glass with clean, fresh water; a luxury that is all to often taken for granted.

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