Guest blog from the International Affairs desk: Afghanistan water safety
Posted: May 28th, 2010 - 4:14pm by Ben Chapman
A friend of mine, who has a background in food safety (and counter insurgency warfare) writes again about his experiences in Afghanistan:
Recent concerns over water quality in Nashville and Boston brought this story to mind. There I was, Davudsi, Zabul Province, Afghanistan. My interpreter, another U.S. soldier and I left the base with the Afghan Army company we mentored to embark on an Afghan Brigade-planned mission.
I soon realized it would be a long day. I was wearing all necessary army equipment, plus a bag with extra ammo, food, and bottled water for myself, the Sergeant who kept me out of trouble, and my interpreter. By lunch time I was being laughed at by my Afghan counterpart who carried only his rifle and a radio.
As our mission progressed, I saw something that made my stomach turn – in the ditch that ran through town, my interpreter bent down and took a deep drink (Below, exactly as shown). After warning him he would get sick from it and reminding him I had brought water for him, I was able to lighten my load and hand off a bottle. Thirty minutes later, I saw him filling the empty bottle in the stream again. Oh, boy…
The day passed without incident, and we returned to the base that night. However, the night was not incident free for my interpreter -- most of it was spent on the toilet seat. This base was a “poop-in-a-bag-and-burn-it” kind of place. So there was a toilet seat that you hung a plastic bag under, take care of business into the bag, tied it up, and threw it into the burn pit. I can only assume this is much worse with diarrhea.
Chapman occasionaly has lunch at Taco Bell with the writer.