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Opinion: Navajo Nation families living without running water

Filed Under: Environment | Opinion
More on: navajo, water
   

The Navajo Water Project will bring running water to 250 homes on the Navajo Nation:
When most people think of dirty water, they think of places like rural Africa. But water poverty affects hundreds-of-thousands of Americans too.

One shocking example? Nearly 40 percent of the 173,000 Navajo in the U.S. don't have a tap or a toilet at home. (For non-Native Americans, that number is just .6 percent).

Water poverty affects everything: health, education, personal security, economic growth. 44 percent of Navajo children live below the poverty line, twice the national average, held there by issues like water insecurity. But poverty isn't the only problem here. Since these communities are just hours from major cities like Los Angeles and Albuquerque, poverty is linked to crime, depression and substance abuse.

Life without water in the U.S. does't look very different from life in rural South Sudan. Every morning, thousands of Navajo men, women and children set out to find water. Many make the trip by car, which can be costly. Some can't drive, forcing them to walk miles to livestock troughs contaminated with bacteria and even uranium.

Lindsey Johnson is one of the many Navajo elders facing water poverty. She lives with ten of her family members in a small trailer without electricity or running water in Smith Lake, New Mexico. Since she was a child, Mrs. Johnson has relied on neighbors' taps, local ponds... even snow for every drop of water she uses. Now nearly 80 years old, her struggle to find clean water hasn't changed much since she was a child.

Get the Story:
George McGraw: These American Families Live Without Running Water (The Huffington Post 12/6)


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