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Monday, May 23, 2005

Shit Storm in Iraq

Via Tim Lambert's blog Deltoid, I learn about the Iraq Living Conditions Survey, a new report by the UN and the Iraqi government. Serious problems in Iraq include not only electricity and violence, but also a shortage of water. Before the war, only 5 percent of urban households lacked safe supplies of drinking water. It's now 40 percent. Typically, the problem is weekly breakdowns of the water supply. Shockingly, 38 percent of urban households, and more in rural areas, report that the "cost of drinking water restricts consumption." I bet they're not taking too many baths either.

Iraqi pipes aren't so good at bringing in the water, or at carrying it away. According to the survey, 37 percent of Iraqis now lack "improved sanitation." Before the war, it was 7 percent. "Improved sanitation," by the way, doesn't mean a flush toilet -- a private outhouse counts. The third of Iraqis without improved sanitation typically use a public outhouse, or just a hole in the ground. No doubt this is why interviewers saw raw sewage around 40 percent of urban households, or less politely, human shit in the streets.

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