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 15, 2009

Heat of the Moment

Daniel Grossman

Planet Earth's average temperature has risen about one degree Fahrenheit in the last fifty years. By the end of this century it will be several degrees higher, according to the latest climate research. But global warming is doing more than simply making things a little warmer.

June 10, 2009

Kenya: Uneasy Neighbors

Ernest Waititu

Kenya's Kakuma Refugee Camp was for years among the world's most famous, home to the "Lost Boys" of southern Sudan and as many as 90,000 refugees and displaced persons. Today those still here are fighting for their lives, caught between "donor fatigue" and a struggle over limited resources with...

May 11, 2009

South Asia's Troubled Waters

Anna-Katarina Gravgaard, William Wheeler

The majority of India's water sources are polluted. A lack of access to safe water contributes to a fifth of its communicable diseases. Each day in the booming, nuclear-armed nation, diarrhea alone kills more than 1,600 people.

The regional scenario is even more grim given the projected...

April 13, 2009

Desertification in China

Sean Gallagher

Desertification is one of the most important environmental challenges facing the world today, however it is arguably the most under-reported. Desertification is the gradual transformation of arable and habitable land into desert, usually caused by climate change and/or the improper use of land. Each year, desertification and drought account...

January 30, 2009

Bangladesh: Easy Like Water

Glenn Baker, Stephen Sapienza

In Bangla, "easy like water" translates roughly as "piece of cake." The irony is that in Bangladesh -- with 150 million people in a country the size of Iowa, water poses a relentless threat. With increasingly violent cyclones and accelerating glacier melt upstream, flooding may create 20 million Bangladeshi...

The Toxic Toll of Indonesia's Gold Mines

Mercury waste from small-scale gold mining contaminates air, water and food to sicken and kill. In a series on global pollution, we look at mercury's deadly toll, especially on the young.

China’s Water Crisis in Two Minutes

A short explainer on China's water crisis. Factors including climate change, pollution, urbanization and energy demands have led to a severe water crisis in China.

Male Fish + Chemicals = ??

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