Baths Pull the Plug | God's World News

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Baths Pull the Plug
Jet Balloon
Posted: May 01, 2024
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    A worker walks inside an empty Moroccan traditional bath, known as hammam, in Rabat, Morocco. (AP/Mosa’ab Elshamy)
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    A steam room inside a Moroccan hammam (AP/Mosa’ab Elshamy)
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    An empty hammam in Rabat, Morocco, on March 4, 2024 (AP/Mosa’ab Elshamy)
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    A notice poster encourages people to conserve water inside a hammam. (AP/Mosa’ab Elshamy)
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    An elderly man takes a shower at a traditional Turkish bath in Sanaa, Yemen. (AP/Hani Mohammed)
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    A man ignites a furnace to heat a bathhouse near Rabat, Morocco. (AP/Mosa’ab Elshamy)
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Need a bath?

Sorry. It’s closed today, tomorrow, and the next day too. Because of a six-year drought, bathhouses in Morocco now have to close three days each week.

Public baths (hammams in Arabic) have been a big part of Moroccan life for hundreds of years. For a small fee, bathers relax in a haze of steam. Rich and poor alike sit on stone slabs under mosaic tiles. They lather with traditional black soap, and then wash with scalding water from plastic buckets . . . right alongside friends and neighbors.

But drought math is simple. Less water = fewer baths.

Fatima Mhattar has welcomed bathers to a public bath called Hammam El Majd for years. She greets families lugging buckets filled with towels, sandals, and other bath supplies. But she worries. Fewer open days will likely mean fewer customers. And fewer customers might mean she gets less pay.

Meanwhile, hot temperatures bake the land. Water supplies shrink. Moroccans make hard choices about what to do with the water they have left.

Officials make new rules for hammams and car washes. These rules anger some. Critics ask: Why should some businesses get more water than others? Why not instead make water use laws for fancy hotels, pools, and spas? And what about farms? Hammams don’t use nearly as much water as farms do.

Mustapha Baradine is a carpenter in Rabat, Morocco. He likes to enjoy hammams with his family every week. He doesn’t understand how the small amount of water he uses would matter so much. “I use only two buckets of water for me and my children,” he says. “I did not like this decision at all.”

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. — Psalm 51:10

Why? In times of want, officials must plan wisely so that all people—rich and poor—are cared for well.