Water is vital to all of life. All living creatures, including humans, need enough water, of sufficient quality, to survive and thrive. We in Ireland are fortunate: most of the time, our citizens have access to a clean, healthy, supply of water for drinking and sanitation. Around 768 million people, one tenth of the world’s population, do not have this.
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The head of the Rainha River is located at Ponta das Andorinhas, one of the peaks of the Carioca Mountain Range in the Tijuca Massif, and it continues through the entire neighborhood of Gávea, bisecting PUC-Rio, and flowing through various schools, parks, and slums, before it finally empties into the beach of Leblon. Rainha is canalized into multiple underground pipes in which various communities have created illegal sewage connections. Water monitoring tests have shown that this has caused high levels of contamination in the river, which in turn causes health disparities in local flora and fauna . All of this sewage and other harmful contaminants polluting the river are flowing directly into the beautiful beach of Leblon, where hundreds of people choose to bathe each day, thus causing people suffer from these effects as well.
Lack of clean water is also a gender-equity issue because women often bear the burdens of finding clean water, which leaves women little opportunity to do anything else. Providing clean water is a public health, economic, and social justice issue. We need leaders willing to address this issue. Are you in? A public health education at Saint Louis University is a good place to start.