“24 hours in search of water” in Mexico

«24 heures en quête d’eau» au Mexique

MEXICO city | Mexico, water is a scarce commodity. The rainy season there lasts from may to September.

Two-thirds of its territory is considered arid or semi-arid with annual rainfall less than 500 mm. In the southern third, less populated and more humid, reaching an average of 2000 mm. Yet, in this country of 120 million people, as large as four times the size of France, obsessed by its economic problems, drug trafficking, violence, pollution and earthquakes, the search for water does not appear as a priority of leaders.

In this context, the AFP has mobilized several of its photographers and videographers for 24 hours in order to show how the Mexicans live daily this lack of water.

Interviews, photos and videos have been made at the beginning of the epidemic Covid-19 in Mexico.

– “The water has the taste of the earth” –

Has Juanacatlan, in the State of Jalisco, the water is not potable. It happens in the houses by pipes from the river Santiago. For Rodrigo Saldaña, 65 years old, who is fighting for clean drinking water in the region, the government is not doing anything to make it fit for consumption.

“Drink of the running water ? It is risky here, ” says Rodrigo to the AFP.

“A few years ago, a boy on the corner, named Miguel Lopez Rocha, fell into the canal Ahogado, trying to retrieve his ball. He died poisoned. Anyone who swallows the water in this river is exposed to the death “, it warns.

Virginia Lozano Romo, 51 years old, is living since nine years in the district, Esperanza, in the village of Tonala, also in Jalisco. She does not know what it is to live with running water and never drank mineral water.

“Here, the water has the taste of the earth,” she said.

“My daughter and I we carry water each day from the well. And we know that it is contaminated, that it makes the children sick “, she says.

The color of a bad coffee

In the same State flows the source of Mintzita, which supplies the city of Morelia. A large paper factory made its live inhabitants. Here, because of the waste that it discharges into the conduit that connects the source to the city, the water, finds the photographer, has a strong odour and the colour of bad coffee.

But, in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuaha, a few steps from the wall to the southern border of the United States, the water has the taste of salt. When it flows. Otherwise, for Fabiola, the mother of two young children, it is more complicated.

“For drinking, we have two jerry cans of 20 litres that the government provides us with. Sometimes, we let ourselves at the supplier’s. It’s costing us 22 pesos (about 1 dollar). Sometimes, a small truck passes. There, it is 15 pesos (about 70 cents) “, she explains.

“Since the government has installed water here, 15 years ago, the problem exists,” observes the young woman. “They have always known that this water could not be consumed and they don’t do anything “.

“Sometimes, it is necessary to cans full of water to wash dishes, bathe, we can’t wash clothes, because we use a lot. And I once tried to take a small glass from the faucet. It is bad. The pure salt. Undrinkable, ” she said.

According to her, ” when the water comes out, it is black, with a lot of land, a color of rusted iron. It is necessary to wait three or four hours before you can start to use it.”

System D

Sometimes, it is necessary to also make use of the system D. This is the case of Salome Moreno, 47, of the district of Lazaro Cardenas in Tijuana, who live without water in his house for 26 years and do not know for what reason.

It shows the photographer from the AFP to the hose that it has cobbled together and which share a home nearby to hers. “I buy water from a neighbor. Him a. That cost me very expensive, ” she says.

María Luz Alonso, 53 years old, lives in the same neighborhood. She prepared a basin of water on a folding table. “I don’t like living like that, but it is adapted to all, I am here since 3 years. Me too, I have my hose that comes from a neighbor. It is a long pipe of 100 metres “.

Mercedes Bocanegra, 54 years old, lives in San Juan Cadereyta, a city in the State of Nuevo Leon. Due to the level of the river decreases, she laments. “There is more water to irrigate the land. It’s not raining anymore. The drought is terrible this year “.

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