Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy world water day!

Today is world water day, a day in which we can dream of clean fresh drinking water for all Bangladeshi. And us. Unfortunately, though, one of the main water related issues in Bangladesh is the lack of clean drinking water. The safest water is bottled water, but not all of the brands produce the same quality. Tube wells are used to extract ground water, which is more or less fresh, but not very drinkable. People either cook or filter this water, but even then bacteria may still remain. Additionally, Bangladesh is facing a huge problem with arsenic that is mixed with the ground water. For us, as short-term visitors, this will not be a problem. But there are severe long-term effects for chronic intake of arsenic water. A lot of research is being done to solve this issue.

Secondly, there is the problem of sanitation in Bangladesh. Proper sewerage systems are lacking, and the frequent occurrence of flooding makes it difficult to separate sanitation drainage from the urban areas and fresh water supplies. As a result, a lot of people die due to diarrheal outbreaks. These outbreaks also occur after natural disasters, and can take more casualties than the short term effects of the disaster itself.

So let's hope things will improve for Bangladesh, and call for a happy world water day! Although, honestly, we're not all enjoying it as much as we like. By now, we've fully, uhm, acclimatized. Food here resembles alcohol: you enjoy it greatly at the moment of intake, but one has a strong regret the day after. Especially Magnus and Diederik went through some of the problems of sanitation and drinking water in person, and on multiple occasions. The hungover diet included ORS and Immodium ("an ORS a day, keeps the doctor away"). We have the luxury of staying in bed for a day or two, but the poor people of Bangladesh do not have this option, so that their condition becomes dangerous. As our stomachs turn, we feel for the people of Bangladesh...

The only hope may be, that the cause comes from our Malarone Malaria pills. When reading through the side effects, we stumbled upon: "diarrhea, stomach pains, vomiting, headaches, and fever". To name a few all too familiar symptoms, that may be unnecessary because Malaria doesn't actually exist over here (more up in the hills). We hope this is actually the case, or else the rural areas will become quite a journey. We promise to show the GPS map of sanitation spots!

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