The Stream, March 12: Venezuelans Queue for Water As Nationwide Blackout Continues

The Global Rundown

An ongoing power blackout in Venezuela forces residents to queue to buy water. The incidence of motor neuron disease spikes in parts of New South Wales, Australia, and experts say contaminants in water may be the culprits. Flooding kills 28 people in Malawi and impacts an estimated 227,000. Water costs escalate in major cities along the U.S. Great Lakes, and President Donald Trump tries to slash funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for the third time. Despite an increase in latrines, sewage remains a problem in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya.

“If we didn’t do this, the situation in Kibera would be much worse because there are no sewers. It would be a disaster.” –Patrick ‘Moreno’ Osunda, a “frogger” who empties pit latrines in Nairobi’s Kibera slum, in reference to improved waste management in recent years. Although pit latrines have cut back on “flying toilets”–the practice of relieving oneself in a plastic bag and then throwing it into the street–the latrines are still prone to overflowing and other issues. Aid workers say a long-term waste management solution is needed to truly improve health in the city’s unplanned settlements. Reuters

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By The Numbers

250 percent Amount that cases of motor neuron disease (MND) have risen in the past 25 years in Australia. In some rural areas of New South Wales, the rate is seven times the national average, and scientists say the spike may be due to pesticides, metals, and blue-green algae toxins in water. The Guardian

227,000 Number of people impacted by flooding in Malawi, as of Sunday. The flooding, caused by torrential rains, has also left 28 people dead and 124 injured. Officials say power and water systems in some areas are shut down due to the deluge. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

In major cities along the U.S. Great Lakes, water costs are on the rise. In the past decade, water prices have tripled in Chicago and doubled in Detroit and Cleveland–and the price hike could continue as cities face aging water infrastructure. Many low-income households have grappled with shut-offs in recent years due to the rising costs. PBS

In context: The Price of Water.

On The Radar

Venezuela is in the midst of a nationwide power blackout that began on Tuesday, March 5. The blackout has left many homes without running water, forcing residents to wait in long lines to purchase the resource. The government has given no information about when the blackout will end. Reuters

In context: HotSpots H2O: Humanitarian and Political Crisis Roils Venezuela

The Trump administration rolled out its latest spending budget, which included eliminating $270 million of the $300 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. This is the third year in a row that Trump has proposed major cuts to the program. As in prior years, it is unlikely that the cuts will occur due to the initiative’s popularity. Detroit Free Press

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