The Stream, March 16: Environmental Factors Cause Nearly A Quarter Of Global Deaths

The Global Rundown

Environmental factors, including water and air pollution, cause nearly one quarter of all deaths globally, according to the World Health Organization. Uneven access to essential water and sanitation services in Brazil mean poorer communities are at greater risk of contracting the Zika virus. India pledged billions of dollars in its new budget to expand irrigation, China began releasing water from a dam on the Lancang River to downstream countries hit by drought, and Bangkok proposed a curfew for a major festival next month to save water. Food companies urged government and industry officials in Spain to follow through on a plan to curb strawberry farming near sensitive wetlands.

“The only thing that is going to break the cycle of epidemics will be a sharp increase in the investment and construction of infrastructure that provides basic sanitation. Until that happens, we’ll live with this contrast in Brazil, where the rich have first-world sanitation and the poor live in the most precarious conditions imaginable, making them by far the most vulnerable to these illnesses.” –Dr. Vera Magalhaes, professor of tropical medicine at the Federal University of Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, on how the contrasting levels of infrastructure service in the country’s cities are linked to exposure to viruses like Zika. (Reuters)

By The Numbers

$18 billion Amount India’s new federal budget dedicates to expand irrigation and recharge aquifers. Reuters

1,500 hectares Number used for unauthorized strawberry cultivation near Spain’s Doñana national park. A group of food companies and supermarkets called on the government this week to implement a plan to reduce strawberry cultivation in the region in order to save water resources in the park’s wetlands. Guardian

9 p.m. Time of the curfew Bangkok plans to impose next month during the annual Songkran festival, which typically involves large water fights, in order to send a message of solidarity to farmers hit by a severe drought. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

Approximately 23 percent of deaths globally in 2012 were attributable to environmental factors, including water pollution and air pollution, according to the World Health Organization. Sub-Saharan Africa and low and middle-income countries in Asia had the highest rates of mortality from environmental factors. Bloomberg

On The Radar

China today began releasing water from the Jinghong hydropower dam on the Lancang River in order to ease drought conditions in downstream countries, including Vietnam. The water releases will continue until April 10. The Diplomat

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