'Waste' Activist Digs Into The Sanitation Crisis Affecting The Rural Poor

Environment: NPR
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Catherine coleman flowers. Welcome to fresh air. Thank you thank you for inviting me. You've been active on this issue for a long time and have brought a lot of people. Philanthropists reporters elected officials to rural areas to see for themselves. Poor people living with this problem of simply not having sanitary disposal of human waste. I'd like you to describe the experience of just one of these tours and the reaction of those who saw what what you showed one of the persons who's reaction with i think sums it up was Dr phillip boston. Dr allston was to you in special rapporteur on extreme poverty and when he was invited to lowndes county. It's part of his official tour. He went to see areas where people were living amongst also which was the one of the homes that we went to It was a compound with a number of mobile homes that set off of a dirt road and one could see the the water lines. They carry water into the home. Going above of what looked like a ditch. Full of raw sewage and nearby was a Was a basketball goal. Which children apparently played basketball. And when he saw there was a were reporters with us On his his his tour and one of the reporters asked him. Have you seen this before. And he said this is common in the developed world. And i thought that that spoke loudly of what i had phil for all of these years did this and so what what people would see a new taken. So many people to this and observe their shock at what they saw was often in a peace pipe. V pipe running from home or a trailer to a hole in the backyard. And then when you get closer what you see. There are when you get closer. You probably see human feces and toilet paper. Aisle whatever was flushing in the toilet. that day. The one place that we win That was this out in my mind. Is that it was full of pitfalls raw sewage. As you say the person had pvc pipe there was a lot a lot of ingenuity. This involved. In this they the the pvc pipe was buried underground and it went to appear in that period again was full of you know raw sewage and you could see the eyes of a frog that was embiid in the sewage and was p p coming out from it and oftentimes depending on the time of the year and now that the days we have long warmer seasons. Their mosquito sometimes congregated on top of the sewage. Those animals will spread this stuff to wherever they go exactly. you grew up in lowndes county alabama. It's an interesting place in the history of the civil rights movement. Isn't it yes. It's very interesting place. In the history of the civil rights movement. Most people know about lowndes because of his fight for voting rights and the establishment of the lowndes county freedom organization which was the original black panther party And that the black panther was chosen because a lot of the sharecroppers had not been afforded the opportunity to go to school so they wanted to use a symbol that people could understand and also you know they wanted to slogans from their time was pulled the till for the panther When they organized their own political party and ran candidates On that part because at that time it was not But people running. This candidates was accepted on either republican or the democratic party In lowndes county. So that itself was more was a a great accomplishment on the side of sharecroppers former sharecroppers who had been kicked off property just because they sought the right to vote and that was the lowndes county freedom party that preceded the black panthers organization right yes and it's also is this area on the root of the famous march from selma to montgomery that dr king led yes. Most of the civil montgomery mind troop goes to lowndes county lowndes. County is actually between selma and montgomery

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