Issue

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

The Ngäbe Buglé: Panama’s Vocal Minority

Panama is confronting its electricity crisis by constructing a major dam near a territory designated for the Ngäbe-Buglé, an indigenous people who believe the dam will threaten their way of life.

A Melting Arctic

Global warming is happening faster around the Arctic Ocean than anywhere else. To adjust to this new climate, local communities must change the way they live and work – for better and for worse.

Waste Management in Ghana: It Takes Two

A push-pull between Ghana’s residents and its department of waste management has been ongoing—trash bins have been stolen and open defecation is commonplace. A turnaround may be in the works.

Tajikistan: Drugs, Guns, Water

Tajikistan is chronically unstable and corrupt—and now bracing for more chaos from Afghanistan. Its president is staking his country's future on the biggest dam in the world.

Shale Gas: From Poland to Pennsylvania

Shale gas is an energy phenomenon not just in a broad swath of the United States but in places like eastern Europe, too. In both regions there is a tangled mix of hopes, hype, and concern.

India: Toiling for a Toilet

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.