Baghdad’s water still undrinkable 6 years after invasion

Published on YAHOOnews, by Matthew Schonfield of McClatchy Newspapers, March 18, 2009.

BAGHDAD — The stench of human waste is enough to tell Falah abu Hasan that his drinking water is bad. His infant daughter Fatma’s continuous illnesses and his own constant nausea confirm it.

“We are the poor. No one cares if we get sick and die,” he said. “But someone should do something about the water. It is dirty. It brings disease.”

Everybody complains about the water in Baghdad , and few are willing to risk drinking it from the tap. Six years after the U.S. invaded Iraq , 36 percent of Baghdad’s drinking water is unsafe, according to the Iraqi Environment Ministry — in a good month. In a bad month, it’s 90 percent. Cholera broke out last summer, and officials fear another outbreak this year …

… The city has a 10-year, $6 billion plan to fix the problem, which involves shutting down the squatters’ settlements. However, there’s fear that shutting down the settlements would force families onto the street and reignite sectarian fighting; the settlements are a recruiting ground for Shiite Muslim militias.

So step one in the repairs for the city water department is putting together a security force.

“We fight, as if we were in the army, to bring people clean water and take away sewage,” Abdulzahra said.

Imam Mahnood al Bayati, a clergyman and a former engineer who’s worked on water systems, said that providing clean drinking water was a central goal for Baghdad , for Iraq and even for Islamic religious practice.

“We can’t even pray without water,” he said in an interview at the Hajia Sidaa Mosque. “Before we pray, we must clean ourselves . . . ,” he said, chuckling, wondering whether it’s even possible to perform an ablution with Baghdad water these days. “Well, the Quran allows us, if there is no water to clean with, to use the sand of the desert. There’s still plenty of that.” (full text).

More links about this polluted water:

Watch this video: Baghdad in a time of cholera, 15.33 min, with Matthew Schofield, March 23, 2009, on RealNewsNetwork. Matthew Schofield: Baghdad’s drinking water is so polluted that an outbreak of cholera is expected;

Militants blow up Baghdad’s drinking water pipeline, by MadTom, October 31, 2008;

Cholera’s phobia in Baghdad, by Dr.Mohammed, Sept. 16, 2007;

Lack of safe water endangers the health of Baghdad’s most deprived children,
by Claire Hajaj and Ban Dhayi, 21 March 2007.

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