One of the challenges in rebuilding the country is finding a way to bring clean water and sanitation quickly to the population. Even before the war started, Iraq’s water and sewage systems were old and badly in need of repair. But the damage caused by the bombing has made the availability of clean water even more difficult. VOA TV’s Deborah Block recently went to Nasiriya in southern Iraq where many people are desperate for clean water.
“Water no. No water no.” or “Water no”
This boy in Nasiriya, Iraq is expressing the frustration of people in his village who have been without clean water for weeks.
NAT SOT—PEOPLE AT THE WATER PIPE
The villagers are filling containers from this leaking pipe. But the water is dirty and salty and causing health problems even when boiled. This man says his son is ill from drinking polluted water.
NAT SOT: WOMAN SPEAKING ARABIC AND ENGLISH TRANSLATION
“Some of their kids have diarrhea, you know, because it contains some parasites.”
In Nasiriya, bombing during the war shattered already fragile pipelines and destroyed electrical systems powering water pumps and filtration plants. Large pools of sewage have formed on the streets. Today some people fish and drink out of the same polluted canal connected to the Tigris River.
Dr. Mary McLoughlin is working in Nasiriya with the Irish humanitarian group “Goal.”
DR. MARY MCLOUGHLIN, GOAL
“People are drinking dirty water straight from the river, or the water coming from some water purification plants is still highly contaminated. Also the old sewage distribution system has crumbled -- is leaking into burst water pipes.”
Some people come to this water plant in Nasiriya to fill containers they take home to their villages – any way they can. The plant provides water to the southeastern part of the city.
DR. MARY MCLOUGHLIN, GOAL
“So they’re not running the generator?”
Major Robert Carr, a U.S. Marine, is helping the people who work at the plant to keep it running. The biggest problem used to be getting enough electricity to operate the machinery, but now there’s another dilemma.
MAJOR ROBERT CARR, U.S. MARINES
“The problem we’re facing now is the lack of supplies such as chlorine to properly chlorinate the water to overcome some of the bacteria which are introduced into the system through the many breaks that the citizens have caused in the pipeline to access the water.”
There is concern that cholera could spread throughout Nasiriya. An outbreak of the water-borne bacterial disease was recently reported in Iraq’s second largest city, Basra, just a few hours away. Dr. Mary McLoughlin of “Goal” warns that if the water quality does not improve soon in Iraq, there could be a major health crisis.