Unsafe drinking water in the age of iPads is gross inequality

The dams are threatening to overflow at the same time that the supply of water (potable) is dwindling. Irony of ironies. The NSO 2008 APIS reports that in the National Capital Region (which makes up the country’s largest urban area), half of families in the lowest 30% income stratum source their supply from rain water. Four years earlier, in 2004, access to improved source of water supply, according to the Unicef and the World Health Organization Joint Monitoring Program for Water Supply and Sanitation, decreased, from 87% in 1999 to 85% in 2004. This means there was still no improvement within the 2004/2008 period.

How do these families treat the rain water (and are they aware of acid rain)? Since these families are in the lowest 30% income stratum (think residents of urban slums), it’s highly probable that these are the families who can’t afford to buy – at least month after month – an LPG cooking gas (which fetches 700+ Pesos now), which in turn means they’re probably not boiling the harvested water. If so, is the financial incapacity to buy LPG in order to boil harvested rain water linked to the persistent cases of diarrhea and other water-related diseases hounding even the largest metropolitan in the country? By the way, every child can be injected with the so-called anti-diarrhea treatment (to me this is like home treating the slightest sign of colds with antibiotics) but then this is not addressing the real and persistent cause of the illness.

If the families are not using LPG, what alternative means or treatments are they using? Charcoal (in Baguio City, by the way, I’m seeing lots of clay stoves for sale, probably because of the 900+ Pesos LPG last month)? Climate change research reports that a considerable percentage of carbon release is due to households’ use of “dirty fuel” and that these households are mostly the poor of the world. But what choice do they have at least for now because the other option readily available to them is to be reported as part of the statistics of morbidity and mortality related to water?

Taxpayers would expect they’re working their butts off so that the country as a whole is equalized in terms of basic infrastructures and services.


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