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Hypocrisy: the unexpected feeling that the Flint, Michigan water crisis evokes
Blog post by Roopa Suppiah, Co-founder of Water Well-ness Project – Get free updates of new blog posts here.
When you hear that the city of Flint, Michigan in the United States has allowed its ~100,000 citizens to drink lead-contaminated water for two years, what comes to mind? Likely you felt outraged or in disbelief that this could go on. You’ve probably heard that lead in water is a no-no – it’s scientifically established to be toxic to the brain. From a public health standpoint, ensuring lead is not in our water is a priority (usually). Check out details here about how the crisis in Flint Michigan unfolded and the reasons why we worry. But what if I suggested to you that the reactions we are all feeling to the Flint crisis is at the same time hypocritical? Here’s why:
Water contamination leading to illness and death is one of the most serious issues that plagues our society today. The equivalent of 25 school busses full of children die every single day across the world from diarrhea due to water-borne infectious organisms (e.g. parasites, bacteria). The Flint, Michigan crisis is “unacceptable” in our eyes and immediate action is to be taken, however, somehow we justify allowing the international water crisis to carry on. An estimated 0.1% of global GDP is all that would be needed to solve global water and sanitation problems. We need the public and political will to see this through.
In our very own country – Canada – approximately 100 boil water advisories are in place at any one time in northern aboriginal communities. The water is unsafe to drink because the source of the water is contaminated with bacteria like E.coli. Permanent solutions from our own government haven’t been provided to these communities, which lack financial resources to better their situation.
To help the people of Flint Michigan, individuals across North America are digging deep into their hearts and pockets. A woman from Mississauga described here, is loading her truck with water bottles and driving the 4 hour trip to deliver clean water to locals in Flint. This generosity is admirable, but doesn’t this call into question why we are helping some, but not others, even though they all need our help.
What’s your stance? Despite the varied perspectives we each may have, the Flint situation does one thing that no-one can argue: it provides that visceral reminder of how important water is in our life.
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