Water and Sanitation

Water issues affect us all, from the women who spend hours a day 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 40 percent do not have access to adequate sanitation facilities. The result is one of the world's greatest public health crises: 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.

Water and Sanitation was produced by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in partnership with National Geographic, PBS NewsHour, the Common Language Project, and the Under-Told Stories Project. Support provided by the Laird Norton Family Foundation and individual donors.



Water and Sanitation

December 29, 2015

Land Health and Water Security in Southern Africa

Judith D. Schwartz

In northwest Zimbabwe, water sources are returning, people no longer depend on food aid, and wildlife populations are rebounding. What’s happening, and what does it mean for other poor areas?

August 21, 2015

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Ann Schraufnagel

Six hundred million Indians defecate outside every day. What does this mean for Indian society and what will it take to change this practice?

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A sanitation scheme has deepened rural indebtedness and perpetuated migratory labor. Yardain Amron reports on the race to make every open village defecation-free by 2019.

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Like so many of Mao’s pronouncements, it sounded simple: “The South has a lot of water; the North lacks water. So if it can be done, borrowing a little water and bringing it up might do the trick.”

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This week: unregulated textile factories across Asia, a Somali migrant profiled, Jon Sawyer and Marvin Kalb dissect Trump and the media.

This Week: Isolation in the Arctic

Growing Isolationism in the arctic, celebrating the Pulitzer Center's 10th anniversary, and India's dilemma of providing electricity to 1.3 billion people.