June 6th, 2014 – Lalo Loor Dry Forest Reserve
Yesterday the Water Quality program bed by Dr. Catherine Woodward spent their last day in the dry forest region (I’m not exactly sure where the “equatorial water tribe” stays, it is entirely foreign to me…) and by this hour they are surely packing their bags to prepare for early morning departures back to the states. But before they left, they imparted their newfound knowledge of the intersections of water quality analysis and public health. It was shocking to learn the terrors contained within a local water sample of so few as 1ml of measurement. The superior sleuthing skills of these students led to discoveries of the dangers present in the local river, restaurant, and even hospital water sources.
E. coli in the water means recent infestation of human waste has likely occurred, a problem no one should encounter while seeking medical attention. And because many of the people here are unaware of the appalling quality of their water, the cycle continues. To live without access to a viable source of clean drinking water is to be deprived of one of the most basic human rights. The United Nations has declared water as a human right, but it isn’t until you experience the deprivation of sufficient and safe drinking water that you can truly realize how imperative it is to daily life.
Water quality is not the subject of my study here, but this program definitely deserves honorable mention for the humanitarian efforts of public health education and a steadfast dedication towards providing access to sustainable clean drinking-water sources.
Photos are courtesy of Federica Ranelli who attended the UW-Madison Water for Life: Sustainability and Community Health in Ecuador program this summer in 2014.