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

September 17, 2012

Mexico: Emptying the World's Aquarium

Dominic Bracco II, Erik Vance

The Sea of Cortez is—or was—a vast and lush underwater paradise. Industrial fishing operations are now decimating the sea's bounty. Tuna, red snapper, and shark are all but gone.

August 14, 2012

Thailand's Trash: Is There Room For Sustainability?

Adam Janofsky

In Thailand, one of the world's most rapidly developing countries, sustainability often takes the backseat to economic growth. But rising levels of pollution and depletion could be disastrous.

April 10, 2012

Latin America: Climate Pains

Simeon Tegel

From Tijuana to Tierra del Fuego, climate change is gripping Latin America. Simeon Tegel reports on the human consequences of drought, hurricanes, and melting glaciers.

January 23, 2012

Murky Waters in Ghana

Samuel Agyemang, Peter Sawyer, Stephen Sapienza

In Accra, capital of Ghana, residents cope with water scarcity while the state water company rakes in cash from abroad.

November 28, 2011

Finding Home Again in Ivory Coast

Selay Kouassi

After recent political violence divided communities, some in Ivory Coast look to local water management as a key to reconciliation, social cohesion and long-lasting peace.

Undark Podcast: Wear and Tear

Podcast with former New York Times science editor David Corcoran discusses a series on the global leather tanning and textile industries with grantees Larry and Debbie Price.

Worse for Wear: Indonesia’s Textile Boom

The rise of fabric and textile manufacturing brought jobs to Indonesia’s West Java province. It also brought abject pollution to the Citarum River. 

In Upstate New York, Leather’s Long Shadow

The lucrative and polluting leather industry fled Gloversville, New York, for foreign shores when regulations set in, but its echoes are everywhere.

New York City's Water Maintenance

New York City spends millions a year to maintain some of the highest quality tap water in the world–without filtering. Yet, some reports indicate this trend may be coming to an end.

Water Infrastructure in New York City

Over the next 20 years, New York will pour millions of dollars into upgrading its water infrastructure. Our student reporters explain the importance of this upgrade.

Chinese Chemical Plants Ruin Sun River

"If you want to clean up the river, you need to close the chemical plants and stop throwing the garbage. Then the goverment can offer the water to this river again." 

The Water Problem in Dong Lian

The rope of the bucket got longer and longer, which they used to get the water from the wells. Everyday the well became dirtier and dirtier. 

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