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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Health and Nutrition: Morocco

Water in Africa

Africa, Morocco

by Ryan Powell, Ait Yaddou, Morocco

My drinking water is fresh, in the sense that it comes from a natural spring. But the water must travel about one kilometer in an uncovered irrigation ditch before I draw from it. During that one-kilometer, many things may and do enter it — dirt, leaves, insects, parasites, and feces. I treat my water with bleach but everyone else drinks it straight from the irrigation ditch. I drink only untreated water, either directly from the spring or from a well.

Consequently, since no one treats the water, many people have stomach problems that last for a few days every month or so. This is (no doubt) a direct result of drinking contaminated water. Sometimes the people make their "bathrooms" right next to the irrigation ditch because there are trees and shrubs for cover. They also allow sheep, goats, mules, and donkeys to drink and wade in and through the irrigation ditch, sending everything down stream, where someone else must collect water for drinking.

by Jennifer Bohman, Souss Massa National Park, Morocco

The water used for drinking is of a high quality (besides the salty taste) and is treated with bleach before it reaches the homes. Therefore, few health problems in the area are linked to water. People also have a generally good education about water safety issues. Women breast-feed their babies for about two years, keeping their babies protected from water contamination.

by Erin Olson, Agadir L'henna, Morocco

My water is fresh. The villagers have told me that it is treated, but I don't know how. The water is cleaned somewhat when it recharges into the well. I did find myself violently ill after the first rains for a couple of days. I think it was because many contaminants were washed into the well. The community has cut down on contamination by putting the concrete bib around the well. However, the well is not covered, which could let many contaminants in. Villagers also drink from the irrigation ditch from time to time. This water is not clean or treated, and, in fact, women pour their laundry water back into the ditch when they are done, but the villagers don't seem to get sick from doing this. I also think I am one of the only people to get sick from water-related problems, as most of the people in the village have built up resistance to whatever contaminants there are. The water from the tap in Tata tastes awful, so I drink a lot of Kool-Aid.

by Jessica Seem, Zaouia Village, Morocco

Water at the spring is very clean and pure, since the spring is capped and water is taken from where it emerges from the earth, via a pipe. However, there is supposedly a leech or something in the spring, big enough to see (I've never seen it), and this will make you sick if consumed, so people never drink right from their jugs (where you couldn't see the leech)—they pour the water into glasses.

As for wells, people do not drink from them when the water is low because it gets muddy and dirty. However, when the water is deep, they drink from the wells without treating the water. Since wells in my area are all uncovered, and people pull water out with buckets and ropes, and many wells are unlined, it would seem there's a high risk of contamination. However, even I do not treat my water here (spring or well) and I haven't been sick (yet) either. Waterborne diseases do not seem to be a big problem in my area. I think the stony earth helps to filter the water. Our new well, as yet unlined, was dug through only a half meter or so of soil. Below that it was all rock.

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