- When you turn on the tap in your home or school, where is that water coming from? Trace it back through the pipes, through your water provider, to its original source, if you can.
- Had you ever thought about this before?
- Who is in charge of providing safe water to communities? To countries?
- Without doing any research, list five items you think are essential to a stable water and sanitation infrastructure for a city.
- Now do some research. Write a paragraph to an elected official describing a plan for building such an infrastructure from scratch.
- Research one of the following water-borne illnesses. How is it contracted? How is it prevented?
- Hepatitis E
- In the aftermath of a massive natural disaster like the spring 2015 series of earthquakes in Nepal, who should make sure communities of displaced people and people living in isolated areas have access to clean water and sanitation -- the local government? International aid organizations? Both? Neither? Explain your answer, including the pros and cons of each response.
- If water pollution in one part of the world is partly a result of producing goods that are shipped to and sold in the West, as in Sean Gallagher's film "The Toxic Price of Leather," what responsibility do Western consumers and companies have to the people in the producing countries?
Before the April 2015 earthquake and its powerful aftershocks rocked Nepal, killing over 9,000 people, the country already had weak water and sanitation infrastructure. About a year earlier, an outbreak of Hepatitis E killed a dozen people and infected more than a thousand in the east of the country. Patients sick with the virus overwhelmed the hospitals.
Then the earthquakes came. Thousands of Nepalese still live in crowded tent camps, afraid to return home. In many of these camps there are few sanitation options. Health experts worry that Nepal's annual heavy rains will carry human feces into already broken water pipes, with potentially devastating consequences.
In this lesson we'll explore the causes and consequences of the fragile water and sanitation infrastructure in Nepal. We'll also look at reporting on the water systems in Nigeria, where community members sometimes walk miles for clean water, and a film about water pollution as a result of leather production in India. In all three cases, people get sick and die because they lack a basic human right: clean water. Whose responsibility is it to provide them with this necessity?
This lesson examines the causes and consequences of Nepal's fragile water and sanitation infrastructure, as well as similar issues in Nigeria and India. Teachers should note that a woman is shown in the Nepal/New York Times video both before and just after her death.