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TheWaterChannel Picks
A selection of water stories from the international press

belomonteThe Battle of Belo Monte

Marcelo Leite in Folha de S. Paulo, Brazil

In the Brazilian state of Pará, an army of 25,000 workers is building the world’s third largest hydroelectric plant, a controversial construction project –because of the dam’s low efficiency, its environmental impact and its effects on the Indians, riverbank-dwellers and the inhabitants of Altamira. Folha’s reporters spent three weeks in the region to put together the most comprehensive coverage –with 24 videos, 55 pictures, and 18 infographics– of the country’s largest infrastructural investment.

The 6:00 a.m. explosion blasts a nine-meter-thick layer off a block of migmatite in a 750-square-meter area where century-old trees had thrived in this patch of Amazon rainforest near the cities of Altamira and Vitória do Xingu (state of Pará, Brazil). When the dust clears, all that’s left of this hard, granite-like rock is a huge mound of rubble. By midnight, not even a boulder will be among the remains.



umaruWater Wahala

Umaru Sanda Amadu, Citi FM, Ghana

Ghana has many water bodies but many taps across homes and offices run dry. People employ various means of obtaining potable water for daily use.

Many have given up hope of ever having water run through their taps while others continue to pray. Water Wahala (Wahala means suffering in the Hausa language), tells the story of people facing water challenges and assesses the measures being adopted by the Ghana Water Company Limited to address the issue.



sheNo Menstrual Hygiene For Indian Women Holds Economy Back

Natasha Khan and Ketaki Gokhale in Bloomberg, USA

Sushma Devi, a mother of three in Northern India, stores her “moon cup” on the window sill of the mud-brick veranda that shelters the family goats.

In a village where few have indoor toilets and the Hindi word for her genitals is a profanity, 30-year-old Sushma struggles to talk about how she manages her period and the changes brought by the bell-shaped device she inserts in her vagina to collect menstrual blood.

“It’s a thing from hell,” she says of the malleable, silicone cup, which she received from a Massachusetts Institute of Technology research group. “I have to keep it far from the house, from where I pray.”

Across the world’s largest democracy, where a decade of economic growth nearing 8 percent a year has tripled per-capita income, millions of women are held back by shame around their most basic sanitary needs.






guardianWhy global water shortages pose threat of terror and war

Suzanne Goldenberg in The Guardian

From California to the Middle East, huge areas of the world are drying up and a billion people have no access to safe drinking water. US intelligence is warning of the dangers of shrinking resources and experts say the world is 'standing on a precipice'

On 17 January, scientists downloaded fresh data from a pair of Nasa satellites and distributed the findings among the small group of researchers who track the world's water reserves. At the University of California, Irvine, hydrologist James Famiglietti looked over the data from the gravity-sensing Grace satellites with a rising sense of dread.

The data, released last week, showed California on the verge of an epic drought, with its backup systems of groundwater reserves so run down that the losses could be picked up by satellites orbiting 400 km above the Earth's surface.

"It was definitely an 'oh my gosh moment'," Famiglietti said. "The groundwater is our strategic reserve. It's our backup, and so where do you go when the backup is gone?"

That same day, the state governor, Jerry Brown, declared a drought emergency and appealed to Californians to cut their water use by 20%. "Every day this drought goes on we are going to have to tighten the screws on what people are doing," he said.



public toiletsLagosians shun public toilets as open defecation continues

Seun Akioye in the Nation, Nigeria

While Lagos State government continues its efforts towards achieving mega city status for the state, poor sanitation and open defecation continues to blight the city’s drive towards this achievement.

A random survey of the over 80 houses on Sofunde street in Agege, one of the most deprived communities on the outskirts of Lagos reveals a shocking yet almost amusing fact: Many of the households practise open defecation.

The model for this practice is a strange and complicated system, while many of the residents have one form of toilet in their often dilapidated houses-usually a pit latrine many of which is bursting at the seams- the residents prefer the more quicker and dangerous method of doing their business on the railway tracks or by the side of it.



thin edgeLiving on the thin edge

Frank van Steenbergen in TheWaterBlog, The Netherlands

In the coastal river system of Bangladesh, land is protected by thousands of kilometers of low and fragile dikes. During normal high tide, water is close to the crest of these dikes. During spring tides that occur twice a month, the situation is nerve-wrecking in many places.  

Rivers in Bangladesh shift and change by nature. They carry large amounts of sediment that is deposited in different parts of the river. Land comes up in one place and deep-water channels move to the other side of the river – coming precariously close to the very thin dikes surrounding the polders. In time, the rivers will erode the thin earthen structures, scour their base and in the end - with a small thrust –breach them.





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