The "invisible" drinking water crisis in Latin America

In large Latin American cities, from Mexico to Chile, there are flames of protest in the streets. Ironically, one of the issues that is fuelling that fire is water, its poor quality or its frequent absence from homes, schools, and hospitals.

Drinking water crisis in Latin America. Photo: Voz de América
Drinking water crisis in Latin America. Photo: Voz de América

According to a report in America's Quarterly magazine, the issue of drinking water supply in Latin America has become an "invisible crisis" that already affects 16 of the continent's 20 largest cities.

These 16 cities are in what experts classify as a "stress situation" over the supply of drinking water. Meanwhile, in three of those cities, São Paulo, Lima and Mexico City, the threat of running out of water is totally real.

This is part of a crisis that is not always reflected in the front pages of newspapers, although it is mentioned among the annoyances that citizens from all over the continent have against their respective governments.

A good part of the problem has its roots in global warming, which has come to generate patterns of rainfall that cause heavy rains in sparsely inhabited areas, such as the Amazon and the glaciers of Patagonia.

Meanwhile, many of the populations of the Pacific coast or close to it, have severe drought problems that make the supply of drinking water less reliable every day.

In Mexico City, drinking water occasionally disappears from pipes for weeks. This has opened the door to a black market for water in times of drought.

The solution to the crisis is not as easy as installing new pipes to the last house on the continent and opening new sources. It is a question of finding realistic solutions, since the installation of new pipes and the opening of new wells would have a very high cost at a time when Latin America is going through a lean period and this, moreover, would take years to be implemented.

According to the magazine, it is then a question of finding creative solutions that use new technologies such as the desalination of water using solar energy, or other techniques, some of them inherited to the continent by the Inca Empire.

The main thing, according to the publication, is to begin to cement a change of mentality in which water is seen as an abundant resource, even in places like Iguazú Falls, the Perito Moreno glacier and Lake Atitlán, and begins to be considered a resource in "growing danger.

Source: Voz de América - Newsroom

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