Pulitzer Center Update

From Drought to Flood - Water Images Across the Globe



In monsoon ravaged Bangladesh, 46 children drown daily. Low-cost swim centers are cropping up across the country to combat the problem. Here, Imram Hossain leads a swimming class in Monohardi, Bangladesh.



China's wetlands cover some 65 million hectares, ranking first in Asia and representing ten percent of the world’s total wetlands. A quiet crisis is occurring however as these important waters are quickly disappearing.



Nepal is awash with water during the wet season. But during the dry season in Kathmandu, some estimates put the output of the antiquated water system at less than half of the city's total demand.



For centuries, people of the Carteret Islands they have lived on a diet of fresh fish, bananas and breadfruit, and without modern conveniences, including electricity and running water. However, their idyllic life is changing dramatically. Rising sea levels and storm surges are destroying this far-flung island chain, eroding the shoreline at a rate of 8.2 mm per year.



In northern Bangladesh, everything is flat, and the chars flood frequently during monsoon season, forcing an estimated 600,000 people to flee. These people (and their livestock) are seeking a new island after theirs was washed out during recent floods.



In much of the developing world, women spend more time fetching water than any other activity in their day. For more than a billion people, the water they do get is unsafe.



In Kashmir - rivers, and lakes are disappearing. River and stream levels are down by two thirds in just 40 years.



In Ethiopia, Ilama Muja villagers taste clean, running water in their community for the first time.



With clean water access increasingly scarce, the burden of securing a daily water supply has become a daunting task for women and young children who often spend hours a day carrying water for their families from remote locations.



In China, nearly 20% of land area is desert. As a result of a combination of poor farming practices, drought and increased demand for groundwater, desertification has become arguably China’s most important environmental challenge.



The hopeful green grasses on a temple entrance ticket are in stark contrast to the reality of dusty and barren lawns.



In Pakistan, 2010 - flood waters in the north raged through mountain ravines with the ferocity of a runaway train. After the floodwaters demolished a bridge over the Indus River between Shangla and Battagram, an NGO helped install a cable car so villagers could make the crossing.

Water issues affect us all, from the women who spend hours daily fetching water to political battles over international rivers to melting icepack and rising sea levels. We are all downstream.

Worldwide, just under 900 million people lack reliable access to safe water that is free from disease and industrial waste. And forty percent do not have access to adequate sanitation facilities. The result is one of the world's greatest public health crisis: 4,500 children die every day from waterborne diseases, more than from HIV-AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.

A robust economy depends on water. So does a thriving ecosystem. Enter politics, fulcrum of the water issue, weighing the fate of economies against the health of individuals and of the environment as a whole. Balance has been elusive. One fifth of the world's population lives in areas where water is physically scarce, and a quarter of the population faces shortages due to lack of infrastructure.

From floods in Pakistan to desertification in China -- monsoon season in Bangladesh, or disappearing glaciers in the Himalayas --- these twelve photos from around the world highlight the stories and human challenges faced daily around the world.

To view multimedia collections of all of Pulitzer Center sponsored water reporting, or to learn more about a particular region in the slideshow, visit "Downstream: Water Access and Sanitation"

The Pulitzer Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit journalism organization, dedicated to supporting the independent international journalism that U.S. media organizations are increasingly less able to undertake. The Center focuses on under-reported topics, promoting high-quality international reporting and creating platforms that reach broad and diverse audiences.

This blog was compiled as part of Blog Action Day 2010, an annual event that unites the world's bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day.