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

December 15, 2010

Colombia: Mining Fever in Paradise

Anna-Katarina Gravgaard, Lorenzo Morales

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.

July 02, 2010

China’s Disappearing Wetlands

Sean Gallagher

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.

March 18, 2010

East Africa: Access to Water

Fred de Sam Lazaro

In much of the developing world, women spend more time fetching water than any other activity in their day. For more than a billion people, the water they do get is unsafe.

November 30, 2009

Can Biotechnology Save Africa?

Philip Brasher

African farmers already struggle to grow sufficient maize, which is a thirsty, fertilizer-hungry crop. What will happen as the climate changes and the population grows?

Q&A: How a Soybean Boom Threatens the Amazon

Philip Fearnside, a biologist who studies the relationship between human activities, such as agriculture, and the protection of tropical forests, says that soy production threatens the Amazon forest.

Inside Recycling Smelters on Java

Larry Price offers a rare glimpse inside recycling smelters on the island of Java in Indonesia where operators smelt lead from used batteries with little regard for environmental regulations.

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."

Male Fish + Chemicals = ??

While many are not aware of the details of modern water pollution, most understand the frightening words: “toxic chemicals”.

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.

Field Notes Podcast: Featuring Our Student Fellows

Our student fellows and professional journalists reflect on the importance of being flexible, remaining open to where stories lead, and listening to the people whose stories we tell.