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

Colombia: Mining Fever in Paradise

The government in Colombia has to choose between guarding its unique ecosystems or boosting its economy with mining. The decision could exhaust or recast Colombia’s long, agonizing armed conflict.

China’s Disappearing Wetlands

China has more wetlands than any country in Asia, and 10 percent of the global total. They are crucial to life and environment -- and rapidly disappearing.

The Tragedy at Ganshadih

In the tiny Indian village of Ganshadih, women and young girls dodge underground fire to scavenge meager bits of coal from India's largest open-pit mine.

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.

China: Min Jiang Makes Improvements

The water failed to meet drinking water standards and people got nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and other symptoms. Then people dug wells to survive. 

China: Pig Farmers Pollute Min Jiang

 

I saw dead fish floating on the river and also smelled the smell. Mother said, "When I was young, the water was so clear, I could clearly see the fish swimming in the water."

The Water Problem of My Homeland

 

"When I was a kid," said my grandmother, "the water was so clean that you could swim, drink, or catch fish. Now it's so dirty that almost nothing is alive. The water of this river is totally polluted and people don't have enough water to drink."

Russia: Could Streams Amplify Global Warming?

On a skiff in remote Siberia scientists measure bubbles from a river in hopes of understanding how global waterways may be contributing to carbon emissions.

The Woman in the Photo

Micah Albert travels back to Dandora, three years later, and finds the woman he photographed for what became an award-winning picture.