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To our readers

Ensuring environmental sustainability is a goal – Goal 7 – of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and Muriella’s Corner is committed to support its implementation, in partnership with all who intend to help more than one billion people release their creative energies, to help free them from the shackles of a life of continuing and overwhelming poverty.

Some of you might have noticed that water has been a recurring topic* on Muriella’s Corner and blogs. This seeming bias is due to almost three decades of work in the United Nations in the area of environment, water and sanitation.


17 OCTOBER 2007

Muriella’s Corner

*These are earlier issues on water
To filter or not…
End of an era…error?
Environment and you
Water, water, ice
Tips for Travelers to the Tropics

Most of my work took me to developing countries over short and long periods, working with communities, governments and not-for-profit agencies in the drilling of wells, installation of handpumps, building of latrines.

The theme of water vibrates around the globe. In most developing countries, water quantity and water quality are main hurdles for the people. In others, water quality is the main challenge.

I have seen, first hand, the pain and suffering diseases cause to families who ingest and bathe in water populated by parasites – diseases like dracunculiasis (guinea worm), schisostomiasis,bilharziasis, and all the -isises- you can think of.

People’s lives are very affected, too ill to work, not enough time to go to school as fetching water is one of the main duties, especially of girls, and so on.

But they are forced to drink what is available, even though the source is questionable.

They have no CHOICE.

On the other hand, in the developed countries, there is no lack of water. In the quest to make the water potable, many chemicals are added. One of the most insidious is chlorine.

But, since exotic diseases are not present in the water supply, people are hardly concerned about the chemicals and as such continue to drink,shower and bathe in chlorinated water (swimming pools reek of chlorine).

Some are buying bottled water, but here again, hardly any attention is given to health issues – e.g. the water source from which the water is bottled is questionable; the plastic containers are questionable, pollution issues, the financial costs of buying a bottle of water – not enough to drink per day; no attention given to the water used for showering, bathing, cooking, etc., etc.

What is to be done?

The most important thing, we believe, is for people to know that they have a choice. Information propelled them to be users of bottled water, to choose to drink bottled water instead of tap water. But if their grasp of what propelled them is understood overall, they would also be concerned about the water used for showering, bathing, cooking.

We have prepared a comprehensive newsletter on Water with the following headings:

The Water Cure
Different types of water
Bottled Water – clear choices
Brands of Bottled Water; Filtration systems
Chlorine and cancer?
Chlorine and Asthma?
Testimony on drinking water
Discussion H2O

Given the amount of information this entails, we have decided to send it to you in short sips, so that you can click through and read the article you prefer. We recommend however that you read all of them as they will be of use to you as you make your choices.

We have also developed podcasts on water and can make them available upon request.

We will continue the focus on drinking water (quality and quantity), given the focus on this issues as Goal 7 of the Millennium Development Goals

-Reducing poverty and achieving sustained development must be done in conjunction with a healthy planet. The Millennium Goals recognize that environmental sustainability is part of global economic and social well-being. Unfortunately exploitation of natural resources such as forests, land, water, and fisheries-often by the powerful few-have caused alarming changes in our natural world in recent decades, often harming the most vulnerable people in the world who depend on natural resources for their livelihood.

Goal 7 of the Millennium Development Goals sets out by the year 2015 to:

  • Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources.
  • Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.
  • Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020. (Source: millenniumcampaign.org)

For full articles and links go to this webpage

Thank you

Muriella’s Corner

20 tips plus 1 for international travel

21 tips for global travel

Increasingly, with globalization, people are traveling to far off climes either for work or pleasure, or both. The knowledge and experience I gained during more than 30 years of traveling to and living in countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, South America and the Caribbean will, continue to be of value to you as you organize your travels to tropical areas today.

The information is purely preventive and consists of actions that you should consider taking before the trip and during the trip. After the trip I am happy to return and plan the other one.

It concerns being conscious of what to eat, where to eat, what to drink, where to drink. In addition, information on:

  1. Before the trip — make packages of almonds, walnuts, goji berries, pumpkin seeds, apricot seeds, whatever country trail mix you like –enough to last throughout the trip (which for me was usually 7-10 days).
  2. Carry an assortment of sizes of glad ziploc bags, as well as drinking straws; a pair of rubber slippers/thongs .
  3. Make sure that you have mosquito repellent (Avon’s skin-so-soft worked well for me, as well as Cutters); and a good sunscreen .
  4. Carry a folding fan — even though one might be fanning hot air, the act of fanning seems to keep one cool; wide brimmed panama (folded) or baseball cap/visor also help to reduce the glare of the sun
  5. During the trip — the pre-trip ammunition above worked well for me at all times as I was never hungry given the nutmix.
  6. Eat only fruits that can be peeled -a source of great enjoyment as there are many fruits in the tropics to enjoy.
  7. Always splash the mosquito repellent (skin-so-soft oil)on your skin — exposed legs and arms and face — day and night .
  8. Drink beer if very thirsty especially if you doubt the source of the water. Or drink local, bottled water; imported bottled water is preferable and is usually available — (I would drink quite a lot of water). REMEMBER – NO CRUSHED ICE IN LIQUIDS…
  9. Use the straws to drink directly out of the bottle if you feel averse to using glasses or cups.
  10. Drinking a lot of water means going to the bathroom/toilet regularly.
  11. Regarding field trips or safaris, or taking trips outside of the capital city to places there might not be the convenience of sanitation and latrine facilities.
  12. I would never, ever wear pants/trousers or a jumpsuit on field visits. I would always wear a very wide skirt and take a lot of tissue paper in my handbag, which is usually very large.
  13. There is a saying that there are four categories of latrine users — sitters, squatters, washers, wipers. In the field and outdoors, squatting is the preferred method for women, hence the wide skirt.
  14. Avoid buffets, flies love them — only eat cooked through meats and other dishes, while hot.
  15. Always wear sunscreen and a wide brim, foldable panama hat or a cap with visor for shading from the sun .
  16. The protection the clearshield lotion provides helps in reducing hand-to-hand transfer of potential diseases, since the lotion wraps the hands like an invisible glove. Repeated application reinforces its efficacity and protects the hands themselves. Even when hands are washed, the protective lotion does not wash off easily.
  17. Never walk indoors or outdoors barefooted. The rubber thongs protect the bottom of the feet from those little worms looking for an opportunity to burrow into the soles of the feet – called the hookworm.
  18. Have fun and never be anxious. Share nutmix, straws, clearshield, skin-so-soft so as to not draw attention to the fact that you are taking preventive action.
  20. When you are relaxed, you deal much better with other issues that come up. Be sure that other issues will always arise. As for other challenges, especially medical ones, always obtain the name of a local doctor -I always, always made sure that I had extra medication as well as a prescription, just in case. Do not carry them in the same bag.

Plus 1 – the 21st tip

As regards cultural appreciation which goes hand in hand with relating to new and different environments, I can safely say that each country has its charm.
My modus operandi was to really develop the “open mind muscle”, which we all have but which is usually un- or under-developed.
By this I mean that I would learn and appreciate the different cultural norms and practices of each country; I usually learned one or two opening sentences – usually a greeting; I would learn the working language of the country (which is usually a UN language – English, French, Spanish (which I speak) Russian, Chinese and Arabic (the last mentioned I am learning at the time of writing). Visit this website Hello to You World, which is a consequence of this experience.
It is amazing how people really warm up to visitors and foreigners who make an effort to understand them, even just a little bit. I have many stories about the consequences of greeting nationals at any level in their language. It is a real ice breaker!
Understanding the cultural norms and behaviours also gives a window into people’s way of living. What I found very toxic was to visit a country and try to impose my way of doing things at the outset without making the attempt to find out why things are done in a certain way. I have stories about this too.
So to conclude, or to begin, I find that the dominant culture approach in this globalizing world is not applicable to building and sustaining international relations. We need to be put our values on hold while we wrestle and grapple with the values/culture of the country in which we are visiting or working, all the while moving the international relationship agenda forward with little or no confrontation.

Appreciating culture demands a certain set of personal behaviours – it fosters patience, tolerance, understanding, elegance in communication (both verbally and non-verbally) and makes it clear that there is no dominant culture theory or practice. All is relative and relational.

These behaviours served me in good stead during my many excursions as part of my duties while working with the United Nations. It was always fun to share my goodies with friends and new acquaintances. There was no clash with the local culture as the actions were integrated easily and naturally.

Enjoy the world, travel and remain in health .

Just in case you want to lighten up on products, for example, brushing teeth with soap is a healthier alternative to toothpaste (see blogs on toothpaste, diethlylene glycol…) as you can take just a few shavings with you for the trip.

In case you are considering a romantic getaway, try a safari honeymoon trip (click here for more information)

Click here for more information of the products mentioned

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