Thursday, November 12, 2009

Poor People and the Price of Water

Lima, Peru is the 13th largest city in the world and yet it gets under 5 inches of rain a year. So poor people still get water, right? At least a little? Uh, not exactly. At least a million residents have no running water.

In a mostly feel good article about one lucky neighborhood that received assistance with installing plastic water catchers—nets that catch water drops from the fog—I was struck by this sentence:
Buying water, trucked in by resellers, costs nine times what it does in richer urban areas, precisely in places where no one can afford it.

I repeatedly come across a wide range of sources that note how expensive some things can be in the poorer neighborhoods of Third World countries. Actually, I come across the same kind of statistics in rich countries. A classic example are poor neighborhoods in the U.S. where residents without transportation have to buy food at small markets or liquor stores where prices are inflated compared to large supermarkets in middle-class suburbs. It's a strange world.

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