While countries around the world are taking measures to hold up the spread of the H1N1 virus, much of Mexico City still lacks the most basic barrier to the flu –- water sanitation. As 44 people have died of the new virus — many of them in Mexico’s capital of 20 million — the government has urged Mexicans to be diligent in their hygiene but has left most of the city’s slums with barely running taps, Reuters reported Friday.
Destitute families in Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl — a poor neighborhood on the northeast end of the capital — largely depend on water trucks for their water supply, but even those stop by sporadically. The water dripping from the taps in homes is barely enough for the one million residents of the slum to fight the deadly H1N1 virus that has gripped Mexico in the last few weeks.
“When the water’s running short it’s not easy to keep washing your hands like they say, and there’s not enough to disinfect all the furniture,” said Miriam Guerrero, who lives in the neighborhood.
Although they are supplying a lot of health clinics in the area with hand sanitizer, local health officials said they could not solve the water problem. With chronic water shortages and aging, leaky infrastructure, Mexico City has been struggling with its water supplies for years.
Last month during Holy Week, as reservoirs hit “historic lows,” Mexico City Water System imposed water cutbacks — a decision that affected at least five million citizens in the metropolitan area. The capital’s major water system has already been closed off three times this year, after an unusually dry rainy season in 2008 left reserves at about half of their previous capacity.
Earlier this month, the head of the Integrated Water Management Committee in Mexico’s Legislative Assembly proposed importing water from the Mezquital Valley or the Tecolutla River. In the mean time, the region’s residents will continue to endure water restrictions and shortages as they wait for water supplies to stabilize.
, a Bulgaria native, is a Chicago-based reporter for Circle of Blue. She co-writes The Stream, a daily digest of international water news trends.
Interests: Europe, China, Environmental Policy, International Security.