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Safe water? Lessons from Kazakhstan
Date:4/29/2008

This, Professor OHara says, is at the heart of the health concerns: There are a number of problems here. Firstly there are the obvious health problems associated with not being able to flush a toilet or wash your hands. But also significant is the fact that when there is no water flowing through pipes, the lack of pressure allows contaminants to flow in through cracks and faulty joints. It gives bacteria the chance to thrive. We also found that some water pipes were laid in the same trenches as sewer pipes, which can allow cross contamination when the water supply is interrupted.

The report shows that the health concerns are shared by the people of Kazakhstan. Even in houses with connections to water supplies 53 per cent of people treat the water by boiling it. This goes up to 56 per cent where people have an intermittent supply and have reported gastroenteritis.

Is Kazakhstan unique? Professor OHara thinks there is a very strong chance that the rest of former Soviet countries are running similar risks with similar situations.

Encouragingly, the government of Kazakhstan has accepted the results of the survey and is now planning an investment strategy to tackle the issue, using the information.

Were obviously very pleased at the response from the Kazakh government, but there are deeper concerns here and we feel the survey shows that the UN definition of whats considered safe, is too rigid and its easy for governments to do the minimum of work to meet this international standard, when in effect theyre ignoring the problem. The UN needs to revisit this issue and look seriously at how it monitors progress.


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Contact: Sarah O'Hara
sarah.ohara@nottingham.ac.uk
44-011-595-14381
University of Nottingham
Source:Eurekalert

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