The Burden of Thirst

July 27, 2010 • Water, Ethiopia, Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Jack Martin for alerting me that the May 2010 issue of National Geographic is devoted to the water crisis.

Joyce Tarnow of Floridians for a Sustainable Population, sent the following response to National Geographic

I was so excited when the special issue of National Geographic, “WATER, Our Thirsty World,” arrived in my mailbox. Finally, a too little reported crisis would get national attention from a respected institution. Many critical aspects of water supply and safety were spotlighted, but not the most critical one–population numbers. This glaring omission continues the restriction that has crippled environmental progress since the mid 1970’s. On Page 52, the last sentence of the large print text is revealing of this decades long practice of ignoring population demand on all of our resources, not just water. “….With 83 million more people on earth each year, water demand will keep going up unless we change how we use it.” There are no logical remedies to stave off a more thirsty future, other than reducing population numbers.

The Burden of Thirst

Aylito Binayo’s feet know the mountain. Even at four in the morning she can run down the rocks to the river by starlight alone and climb the steep mountain back up to her village with 50 pounds of water on her back. She has made this journey three times a day for nearly all her 25 years. So has every other woman in her village of Foro, in the Konso district of southwestern Ethiopia. Binayo dropped out of school when she was eight years old, in part because she had to help her mother fetch water from the Toiro River. The water is dirty and unsafe to drink; every year that the ongoing drought continues, the once mighty river grows more exhausted. But it is the only water Foro has ever had.

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