The Story is in the Soil

Posted May 11, 2010 from United States

It is not difficult to feel like you have stepped back in time when you set foot in a Moldovan village. Apart from the occasional anachronism of satellite dishes on rooftops or techno music resonating from a neighbor’s yard, little has changed in the past three hundred years. There is no industry beyond basic agriculture. There are no billboards or other indications of commercialization. It is a simple life, tempered only by the challenges imposed by modernity.

Moldova’s history is as rich is the fertile black soil that carpets the landscape, and the soil itself tells a harrowing story of abuse by those in power. In the village of Lunga, for example, the groundwater has been contaminated by jet fuel, which for years had been dumped in the fields at a now defunct military base just a few kilometers away. With the spark of a match, the water catches fire. I have seen it with my own eyes, and the smell of petroleum permeates nearly every element of this otherwise unspoiled existence.

It is in the water that they draw from their wells, which is the same water that they drink, which is the same water with which they feed their animals and irrigate their fields. I sampled a locally produced wine only to discover that it, too, smelled like gasoline. The condition of the water has been this way, the residents told me, for over thirty years, so I suspect that many of them no longer even notice, except on the rare occasions when they receive much needed medical attention for the pollution that they ingest.

Among the most basic of human needs, clean water is vital in itself and to all other aspects of survival. Indeed, it is a fundamental human right. The people of Lunga, as well as those of several other villages in Moldova, have a right to drink water that is not loaded with carcinogens, that nourishes instead of contaminates, that is as pure as their traditions.

If not for the negative influences of the outside world, I doubt that many of these villagers would be keen to give up the lives that they have known, which until recently have been essentially without covet or need. Industrialization has changed and threatens to destroy their way of life, and now the modernization of their water retrieval and distribution systems may be the only way to salvage what remains.

These villages have been essentially self-sufficient for hundreds of years, but now they are faced with a problem that they lack the means or resources to address. They are good people, many of them too proud to ask for help, so I feel compelled to do so for them. Without new, deeper wells, their otherwise simple lives will only continue to get harder.

If you are able to do so, please help them.

The group 30 Days for Water has been created to share this issue and receive feedback from the worldwide community. If you have a common issue or story to share with us, this is the perfect place to do so. Join us now:

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Nusrat Ara
May 11, 2010
May 11, 2010

It is so sad that people so untouched by modernity are paying for the perils of it. Why are not the polluters being held responsible and made to clean up their act.

Hope you are able to make a difference. And hope they come out of the crisis.


May 11, 2010
May 11, 2010

So often we hear of citizens suffering at the hands of industrialists or from "progress" where their environment is contaminated beyond repair and they are left with no reparation or remedy. The irresponsibility of the military base reflects the lack of decent respect for the surrounding towns and its people. Thank you for sharing this story and illustrating that access to clean water is not just a developing world problem but is a problem worldwide. Janice

Victoria Green
May 11, 2010
May 11, 2010

Thank you for bringing this story out!

It is so interesting to read about the situation and the way it is perceived through your experience. Now I am so convinced that the situation gets into a real drama. I thought it was me and some local people who were so deeply concerned, but reading this it is hard to stay away.

Time to act, time to react!