World Water Day – today!

Some more alert people than myself noted that today is World Water Day, and posted a picture in relation to it. Heck, I thought I can do that too, and so I found this one. It was taken at a trip to southern Mauritania where I was an election observer in spring 2007.

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Southern Mauritania is one large bit of very picturesque desert with the occasional oasis and palm grove thrown in. Every day, we drove for hours around the desert, indeed off the beaten track with nothing to guide us than the local knowledge of our driver and interpreter. We would inevitably end up at the right place, and on the way come across small settlements of mud houses and tents. The people living in these settlements definitely had to face a daily struggle to get water, food and education for their children. However, there was no indication of  crass poverty, just of very simple lives. The elections brought people out in droves, but the elected president and government were finally swept away in a coup a few years later.

One day, we drove past a palm grove. As we had been sitting in the jeep for more than four hours, we all opted to get out and walk about a bit, and I walked over to the grove. I had never been so close to an assembly of low-growing palms, and was quite surprised how hard and sharp their leaves are. After a short trot around the grove, I walked back to the car. In the meantime, a local Mauritanian had showed up, whose job was clearly to guard the well. I hadn’t even spotted it at first, but there it was – a car tire in the ground marked the spot. When hovering above the tire, one could faintly see the shimmering ground water. This picture shows our interpreter taking a big gulp of water in this otherwise fairly dry area. Desertification is obviously a huge problem worldwide, and with climate change advancing, it will be even more so in this region, which is adjacent to the Sahel area.

Thus: SAVE WATER WHERE YOU CAN AND WHEREVER YOU ARE!! In Southern California, thoughtful restaurants have little table-tents that remind their guests that saving water is in everyone’s interest and for everyone’s benefit. If it can be done in California, it can be done everywhere.

Support www.charitywater.org or some other charity or NGO that helps people get access to clean and sustainable water sources.

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