Project

Desertification in China

Desertification is one of the most important environmental challenges facing the world today, however it is arguably the most under-reported. Desertification is the gradual transformation of arable and habitable land into desert, usually caused by climate change and/or the improper use of land. Each year, desertification and drought account for US$42 billion loss in food productivity worldwide.

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. As the effects of increasing desertification appear, farmers are forced to abandon their land, levels of rural poverty rise and the intensity of sandstorms, which batter northern and western China each year, continue to intensify.

By traveling on China's 'desertification train' on the K117-T69-K886 route that dissects China's major northern deserts (The Gobi, Taklamakan and Badain Jaran) from Beijing, on the east coast of China, to Kashgar, on the western borders, photojournalist Sean Gallagher reports on the various implications of desertification on people's lives across the breadth of China.

China on the Brink

Pulitzer Center photojournalist Sean Gallagher talks to the Asia Society about his reporting projects on China's environmental problems and his experience as a freelance journalist in China.

Meet Sean Gallagher

Sean Gallagher is a British photographer currently based in China. To date he has lived and worked across the world, spending extended periods of time in locations as diverse as Japan, Brazil, New Zealand, China, the United Arab Emirates and various European nations.

Fight for Water Hits Crisis Levels Worldwide

As part of the DC Environmental Film Festival, four films explore the conflicts tied to water issues, as part of the annual World Water Day observance.

From Drought to Flood - Water Images Across the Globe

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.