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West Africa has some of the lowest rates of access to safe drinking water in the world. Governments, private contractors, UN agencies and international non-government organizations (NGOs) have spent billions of dollars to address the problem. But success is elusive, and the challenge is only becoming more severe. Populations are growing, people are moving from farms to cities, and city planning is chaotic.

The reasons cited for failure are varied and numerous, from inadequate funds and mismanagement to corruption, lack of spare parts, no local buy-in, and weak institutions. At same time, everyone claims to have the latest and most promising solution to the challenge.

Missing from the flood tide of PR and spin are local, objective voices with international reach that can distinguish high-level rhetoric from baseless posturing and good intentions from good results.

The Pulitzer Center is partnering with journalists from four countries in West Africa: Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Liberia. American journalists, Stephen Sapienza and Peter Sawyer, traveled to the region to report alongside them.