Chile landslides pollute rivers, leaving three million Santiago residents without water

Three million people left without water in Santiago after supply rivers are polluted by landslides

Santiago residents have been stocking up on bottled water after storms polluted the city’s main supplies. AFP: Vladimir Rodas

Three million residents in the Chilean capital Santiago have been left without clean water after landslides caused by heavy rains polluted the rivers supplying the city

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World Vision Works to End Global Water Crisis With Innovative Manual Pump

Women work to assemble and install a manual water pump in their village in Ethiopia.
(Photo: Water4)
Women work to assemble and install a manual water pump in their village in Ethiopia.

By Katherine Weber , Christian Post Reporter

World Vision, an international Christian humanitarian organization, has been working for nearly three decades to bring clean water to the most remote areas of the world, and with the invention of a manual, smaller plastic pump, the relief organization is hoping to expand its clean water outreach even farther.

The pump, according to Randy Strash, World Vision’s water, sanitation, and hygiene strategist, consists of a small, plastic PVC pipe and PVC fittings which costs only $25 to assemble, compared to $700 to $800 for standard stainless steel pumps previously used in many parts of the world.

Although the pump’s plastic composition seems flimsy, it will actually last five to seven years without any need for maintenance, according to Strash.

Additionally, the pump is lightweight and small, making it easy to transport via pickup truck or motorbike, and therefore, in comparison to the heavy machinery traditionally used for pumping water, this new pump will be able to “access communities beyond reach.”

The pump uses natural hydraulics instead of suction, therefore making it very easy to use, so much so that a child can operate the pump.

Due to the pump’s easy use and lack of maintenance needs, Strash confirms that communities will not require extensive training on the pump, therefore “greatly reducing the cost of accessing safe water for many.”

The pump’s technology was developed by Water4, an initiative founded in 2008 and dedicated to eradicating the global water crisis by equipping communities in Central America, Africa and parts of Asia with the supplies and knowledge needed to drill their own wells.

As Strash told CP, World Vision hopes to increase local entrepreneurship in developing countries with the help of this new plastic pump.

“Our hope is to spin off teams of entrepreneurs to continue to use the equipment and skills to build new pumps in their countries from their own materials,” Strash told CP.

Strash contends that the pump’s proliferation will create a market, create jobs, and stimulate local economy while simultaneously addressing the global demand for clean water.

A study conducted by Stanford University in the 2000s found that freshwater availability and water fetching distance affect child health in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the study, “a 15-min decrease in one-way walk time to water source is associated with a 41 percent average relative reduction in diarrhea prevalence, improved anthropometric indicators of child nutritional status, and a 11 percent relative reduction in under-five child mortality.”

“These results suggest that reducing the time cost of fetching water should be a priority for water infrastructure investments in Africa,” the study concluded.

As Strash contends, the plastic manual pumps are able to be installed in local communities where traditional big rigs cannot fit, and therefore these smaller pumps greatly reduce the risk of water contamination due to their proximity to the community.

Strash has big plans for the communities using these new plastic pumps, saying that he believes eventually they will result in better environmental conditions, turning a community from “arid to lush.”

“The whole idea is to proliferate the number of wells. You can get more water out of the wells because they’re closer and the pump is more efficient,” Strash explained.

“Maybe people will start growing vegetables that are hand-watered, and they’ll have vegetables growing year round,” he said, adding that easy access to water can result in “three crops, instead of one.”

Currently, World Vision is working with the Water4 initiative to have these new pumps installed in Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, and Niger, along with several other countries.

The manual pumps have been used in Angola for the past several years.

Nearly 5,000 children die every day due to the lack of access to clean water, which is why the United Nations designated Friday World Water Day, so that this continued epidemic may be ended once and for all.

World Vision has managed to provide clean water to over 11 million people during its efforts over the past 25 years, and is striving to reach an additional six million in the next five years.


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NASA notes alarming freshwater loss in Middle East

News study by US National Aeronautics and Space Administration says region has lost over points to loss of over 144 cubic/km over last seven years


 A new study by the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) found an alarming decrease in the amount of freshwater available in the Middle East.

 The report said that an amount of freshwater “almost the size of the Dead Sea” has been lost in parts of the Middle East over the past seven years.

  According to a NASA press release, scientists at the University of California, the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, found that “During a seven-year period beginning in 2003 that parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran along the Tigris and Euphrates river basins lost 144 cubic kilometers of total stored freshwater.”

 The researchers attribute about 60% of the loss to pumping of groundwater from underground reservoirs, the NASA release said.

 The findings, which will be featured in the coming issue of Water Resources Research, are the result of one of the first comprehensive hydrological assessments of the entire Tigris-Euphrates-Western Iran region.

 According to the researchers, since obtaining ground-based data in the area is difficult, satellite data, such as those from NASA’s twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, were essential.

  GRACE is providing a global picture of water storage trends and is invaluable when hydrologic observations are not routinely collected or shared beyond political boundaries, NASA said.


GRACE satellite data (Screenshot: NASA website)

 “GRACE data show an alarming rate of decrease in total water storage in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins, which currently have the second fastest rate of groundwater storage loss on Earth, after India,” Jay Famiglietti, principal investigator of the study and a hydrologist and professor at UC Irvine, said.

 “The rate was especially striking after the 2007 drought. Meanwhile, demand for freshwater continues to rise, and the region does not coordinate its water management because of different interpretations of international laws.”

 GRACE,” he added, “Is the only way we can estimate groundwater storage changes from space right now.”

 The data led the team to conclude that about one-fifth of the water loss noted was the result of soil drying up and snowpack shrinking, partly in response to the 2007 drought.

 According to the study, loss of surface water from lakes and reservoirs accounted for about another 20% of the losses. The majority of the water lost – roughly 90 cubic kilometers – was due to reductions in groundwater.

 “That’s enough water to meet the needs of tens of millions to more than a hundred million people in the region each year, depending on regional water use standards and availability,” Famiglietti said.

 “Water management is a complex issue in the Middle East,” fellow researcher Kate Voss noted. “It’s an area that is already dealing with limited water resources and competing stakeholders.”

  Famiglietti added: “The Middle East just does not have that much water to begin with, and it’s a part of the world that will be experiencing less rainfall with climate change.

 “Those dry areas are getting dryer. The Middle East and the world’s other arid regions need to manage available water resources as best they can.”

NASA’s GRACE is a joint mission with the German Aerospace Center and the German Research Center for Geosciences, in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin.


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