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

A Changing World? Pulitzer Center Photography Exhibition

Pulitzer Center student fellows travel the world to report on issues that affect us all—telling stories that might otherwise go untold. This exhibit features selected work by student fellows, shot on location in countries now undergoing rapid transformation, from the roads in Bangkok to a Maasai village in Tanzania.

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. 

Water is Dirty Now

My mother needed to fetch water over 200 meters away in the well and she needed to take the wash-water to water the flowers. She also used well water for drinking and cooking.

Why Qinghe Became So Dirty

The river became blacker and blacker each day, and people who lived close to the river could smell some stink, and they left too.