The Issue in Alabama’s Black Belt

I had never heard of the hookworm epidemic or the Black Belt region, so the articles about Alabama peaked my interest.  After reading one of the articles I learned that the region is coined Alabama’s Black Belt because of the rich, fertile soil that it provides (Sheets 2017). However, this soil inhibits water drainage and adds to the insufficient sewage system issues many communities face, including Lowndes and Perry County. These counties are poverty stricken, and facing a hookworm outbreak due to the sewage build up. I found an article written by Ashley Creek that also explained the problem that many regions in Alabama are facing.  Creek also revealed that there was a $4.8 million dollar grant issued to Perry county in 2012 dedicated to repairing the failing sewage spray field (2017). This grant excited the members of the community, but the engineers and city officials failed to help citizens because they disregarded community input. Farmers, teachers, and other members attempted to inform the engineers that building another field would be unsuccessful because the soil does not absorb any liquid, but the engineers continued on and “failed to run tests to ensure the ground would percolate prior to construction” (Creek 2015).  This story reminded me of conversations that our group had during the second step of our final course statement. While we were contemplating the problems with voluntourism, we identified that not communicating with the local community can cause major issues during the trip. This discussion supports the idea that the government can not ignore local knowledge about the area even if they are trying to help.

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