When the Wells Run Dry

first_imgIt’s a common saying that you never miss the water until the well runs dry.  Well, year after year, this adage plays out in countless communities across Liberia. As Saran Kaba Jones, CEO and Founder of the WASH NGO FaceAfrica, puts it, “It begins with WATER.”From water to tend our crops, to water used for cooking, cleaning and personal hygiene, from water for construction, to water used in washing our hands to prevent the spread of disease, every single sector of human endeavor thrives on the availability, accessibility and affordability of water. As a nation and a people, we may lack many things but one thing we can all agree on is that water is not one of them. Our vast transboundary rivers, beautiful lakes, seemingly endless rainfall and abundant groundwater supply so readily accessible by means of hand-dug wells are all reflections of how endowed Liberia is in freshwater resources. Within and along our national boundaries, non-saline water exists in such volumes that it could literally re-vegetate the Sahara. What seems to be lacking is the adequate means to convert this vastly abundant, untreated, under-utilized natural resource into safe, sufficient and accessible water that meets World Health Organization standards for drinking, domestic and agriculture use. That, unfortunately, is where we fall short.Needless to say, if the Ebola outbreak has taught us anything, it has reminded each of us of the importance of potable water in minimizing the spread of disease. Just take a look around you, almost every single home, office, public gathering, and place of worship or leisure nationwide now has a bucket of chlorinated water for mandatory hand-washing at the entrance. The now instilled habit of washing our hands has become so common a practice in our daily lives in the fight against the deadly EVD that most people are left feeling very uncomfortable without. No doubt, water has been in the forefront of it all.While significant strides have been made in the fight against Ebola nationwide, as we strive to put an end to this gruesome chapter and hopefully revive the dormant sectors of our society, the critical concern surrounding sustained access to potable water nationwide cannot be ignored. Families need water to drink, to cook, to clean, and most importantly, in the continued fight against Ebola, to wash their hands.As we approach the peak of yet another dry season, when the water table tends to drop and shallow wells and surface water sources run dry, history will sadly repeat itself, leaving thousands across Liberia to scramble for water for months on end. Some way, somehow, the lingering question of the availability, accessibility and affordability of safe water must be answered.One proactive approach would be to strategically ensure that people have sustained access to sufficient water at the domestic and community levels. In areas where annual water shortage is known to be very high, it is recommended that local authorities, relevant line ministries and the NGO community consider contingency measures such as: 1) drilling of boreholes as opposed to shallow hand-dug wells — which have a tendency to run dry by February-March; 2) water trucking and establishing of chlorinated service points in various communities, where necessary; 3) the provision and administration of chlorine at hand-pumps, wells and other water sources known to remain viable throughout the dry months; and 4) routine testing of drinking water sources for chlorine residual and bacterial contamination as a protective means of preventing other potential water-borne illnesses such as cholera and diarrhea.  As a caveat, these measures should be employed with advice from a WASH specialist, as water situations are unique from one location to the next. The proposed water testing exercises can be coordinated through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare making use of its existing Environmental Health Technicians in the various counties. These few strategies, though not exhaustive in nature, can help contribute to on-going WASH (Water Sanitation and Hygiene) efforts and ensure that all citizens continue to observe the basic yet highly protective public health measure of regular hand-washing.While the Ebola death tolls may have considerably decreased nationwide, the need to maintain the gains made thus far cannot be overemphasized. According to the United Nations, “Water is critical for sustainable development, including environmental integrity and the alleviation of poverty and hunger, and is indispensable for human health and well-being.”Let’s not wait until the wells run dry to acknowledge the critical role potable water has played in the national and regional fight against Ebola.  Let’s not wait for severe water shortages to realize that in a water-scarce situation, a mother would most likely opt to cook a pot of rice with a single bucket of water to feed her children as opposed to or using that same water just to wash hands.As a nation, a people, policy makers, policy enforcers, service providers, caregivers, health workers, opinion leaders, aid community, let’s chart a new course this New Year and move away from trying to find cures to problems we can readily prevent.  French Environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau once said, “We have the ability to provide clean water for every man, woman and child on the Earth. What has been lacking is the collective will to accomplish this.”  Cousteau argues that addressing the elusive question of potable water for all year round is possible, but he concludes by asking, “What are we waiting for?”  Let’s not wait to miss the water, only when the wells run dry.Magdalene Matthews holds an M. Sc in Environmental Health from the Harvard School of Public Health, Cyprus International Institute; She is also the Author of RISE! Redeeming the Future of Liberia, a Practical Guide to Self-Development. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

TALES FROM THE RING Cheltenham Saturday

first_imgCHELTENHAM SATURDAY: Simon Nott reports from day two of the Showcase Meeting at Cheltenham – direct from the Star Sports pitch. Day 1 went the way of the punters – but it’s a meeting of two halves so how would Saturday fare?We got to the racecourse early today, bolstered by coffee, much needed in my case. I had to share a room with Ricky, in the end I decamped to the couch downstairs. A guy snoring with a cackle that every breath could be his last was not conducive to sleep. That task not made easier when awash with Coke Zero adhering to my self-imposed dry October.On arrival it became apparent that Cheltenham’s climate had definitely taken a wintery turn overnight.It was somewhat warmer in the Centaur where I went in search of Darren ‘Birdie’ Bird (https://birdieracinggifts.co.uk). He was setting up for a day cartooning racegoers. He’s passionate about his racing and happily agreed to a #BettingPeople interviewee in the near future. Watch this space.2:00 ‘Matchbook Betting Exchange’ Handicap ChaseThe opener wasn’t an easy heat for either bookie or punter, no big stakes or liabilities and five losers in the book.Relentless Dreamer winning at 16/1 was just the tonic the betting ring needed after yesterday’s results, Saturday being busier would be the right day for a reversal in fortunes.2:35 Masterson Holdings HurdleWe had a surprise when a punter came up with £2000 bet, not for here at Cheltenham but on Imaging in the 3.05 at Leopardstown which we laid him at 13/8 and another punter with £5000 – £1000 Weekender in the 2.20 at Newbury.No sooner was that laid a punter came in for £3000 – £2000 Gumball here. The day was warming up.The good news from Newbury was that the Weekender cash stayed in the bag as the Gosden charge was the first one beaten. Too early to say it was shaping up to be a good day.Apart from the fact it was cold and raining, proper jumping weather! Back to the racing, by off we’d laid another grand on Gumball but this time at its tumbled to price of evens. For the happy but damp mood to continue we needed it beaten.Mike Cattermole commentating reported that Richard Johnson was ‘riding patiently’ on the jolly. In reality it had no response when asked, eventually finishing out of the frame behind 5/1 winner Pearl Of The West. That was an excellent result despite still having 11/2 on the board at the off. Come racing.3:10 Randox Health Handicap ChaseBetting for the next was lively and competitive at around 10/3 the field in a seven-runner race. Over at Leopardstown the £2000 Imaging stayed in the can when a sharp drift late on and a chinning on the line went our way.The glory didn’t last long, at the off back here at Cheltenham Modus was the worst in the book for nearly three grand. The bogie looked like winning over last then 20/1 right result Duke of Navan took it up by half a length on the run-in. ‘Aye Aye – he’s got him’ shouted Ricky from the joint. Bloody hell Ricky, how long have you been in the game? One of the cardinal sins, a premature Aye Aye, especially at Cheltenham. Yes we all know that Ricky’s impromptu celebration wasn’t to blame for Modus getting up and a £6000 turnaround, but someone has to take the flack, especially when it’s cold and wet. RICKY!3:45 Pertemps Network Handicap HurdleThe rain was tipping down which probably didn’t help the 11/2 the field event which was a pretty non-eventful betting heat. We had six losers at the off, none of which was 16/1 winner The Mighty Don that got home by a short head in a thrilling finish collaring 22/1 Sykes on the line. It was a small cop in the book but put us back in the game.4:20 Randox Health Novices’ HurdleNext up Dinons which opened 5/6 but quickly collapsed into 8/11 then bounced to 10/11 before shortening to 4/6 at the off, having chased it out and followed the move in it was just a modest loser at the off. During the race a clerk from another rails firm came up to me and said that his team had 5/6 the jolly on the board when a punter came in with a monkey in cash and begged 4/5. I asked why they did and he just smiled.The way Dinons won, doing metaphorical handstands any price would have been value.4:55 Move Over To Matchbook Novices’ ChaseJust the four runners in the penultimate but tight betting with Monbeg Legend heading the market at 7/4 in early skirmishes.Recent #BettingPeople interviewee Baz ‘Pinno’ was betting at the ‘wrong’ end of the rail. ‘The rain’s killed it’ he lamented but with bristly smile as is he way, before adding ‘I’m still just in front though’.Business back at the Star Sports pitch was also modest but steady. At the off we just had the jolly losing, in the right and proper manner.Ricky hadn’t learned his lesson, calling ‘He’s pissed in’ regarding Cubomania this time before he’d even jumped the last. Luckily, Sod didn’t evoke his law this time, Gordon Elliot’s charge went on to win at 10/3, more importantly the favourite was beaten and another cop was registered in the book. Ricky looked over in triumph expecting to be exonerated his previous misdemeanour, not a chance, you just got away with it this time.5:30 Jockey Club Ownership Syndicate Standard Open NH Flat RaceThe lucky last looked promising, a competitive bumper, betting around 3/1 the field and the rain had stopped.There was an early flurry of money for Strong Glance into 5/2 though not to bundles, at least not with us. To be fair the majority of the ring, fingers numbing and toes tingling looked to be longing for the glow of their light boards to be that of an open fire. ‘It’s gone quiet’ reported Helen Barnes on the front row, and it had, seemingly one race too many for the punters, or maybe just too hard.And so it was, lowest field of the day, at the off we had Robyndzone, Strong Glance and Northern Bound losers. The 5/2 jolly won and we did a monkey on the race, leaving us small winners on the day but losers on the two. Still it’s only a warm up for next month. See you all back here in November.And finally, we’d all like to wish Geoff Banks congratulations and future happiness after his nuptials today.SIMON NOTT Biggest disappointment of the day so far was that Tony Calvin (pictured) blocked me on twitter for putting up a counter argument to his. Lighten up Tony, it’s a game of opinions!center_img Simon Nott is author of:Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting RingCLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILSlast_img read more