From guest blogger Corinne Reilly, Merced Sun-Star
Iraq's scarcity of electricity is a telling, widespread problem, and journalists have written plenty about it. So it's surprising to me that it's surprising to my friends and family in the U.S. that power outages are still so common here.
I was talking to a friend in the states yesterday when the government power grid cut out. Thankfully, our bureau has a generator. It makes a loud grumbling sound when it kicks in. My friend heard the sound and asked what it was. When I explained the ongoing need for private generators here, she asked why the government isn't providing adequate power.
A lot of Iraqis are still asking the same question, and a lot of them still cite the outages as one of their top complaints about the government.
I'd estimate the power goes out at McClatchy's Baghdad bureau at least 10 times a day. Usually the generator kicks right in, so it's not a big deal.
But for Iraqis who can't afford generators, or the fuel to run them, it's a very big deal. The power outages aren't quick. Our generator will run for as long as the government grid is out, and sometimes it grumbles for hours.
And the situation now is far better than it will be in a few weeks when Iraqis start using their air conditioners to fight the summer heat.
"No one is looking forward to that," one of McClatchy's Iraqi reporters recently said to me. "It might seem like the electricity problem is getting better for Iraq. But it's not. It's just the season."