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

Carteret Islands: Five Flights and Three Days Later

The Carteret Islands are some of the most remote islands in the South Pacific. Three days after leaving New York City and five flights later, we arrived in Buka at the tip of Bougainville, where we plan to catch a boat to the Carterets to document how climate change is impacting this low-lying atoll.

Water Wars Portal Featured on Foreign Exchange

The Water Wars portal is highlighted in a special edition of Foreign Exchange devoted entirely to global water issues. Daljit Dhaliwal interviews Pulitzer Center journalist Alex Stonehill and draws on the portal to share video reports and student perspectives. Rose George, author of The Big Necessity also joins the program to discuss the critical issue of sanitation.

Kibera: Not a Drop to Drink

In Kibera, a massive slum of rusty tin roofs and makeshift homes spreading out from the southwest of the city, the rain is turning the twisting dirt roads and alleyways to thick red mud.

Here in one of largest slums in the world--a flashpoint for violence stemming from Kenya's parliamentary elections in December--the rain is causing open sewers to swell and uncollected garbage to rush in rivers of tattered plastic and human waste through backyards.

Clean Water for Kenya

In Kibera, a slum of Nairobi, Kenya, clean water is too scarce. But a new technology that takes just a plastic bottle and six hours in the sun is helping reduce sickness and diarrhea in the community, and in other developing countries around the world.

Water First: Fighting Thirst in Ethiopia

The water in our house has been turned off for days and my back is absolutely killing me. I've been squirming around on our dirty couches all evening, desperately seeking a position that doesn't hurt. My spine feels permanently compacted and I'm convinced in my self-pity that I can actually feel the vertebrae rubbing against each other.

UV Rays to the Rescue

ON A FRAYED MAT ON ONE of the dusty streets of Kibera — Africa's largest slums — in Nairobi, Sophia Mohamed sells her wares: two mangoes, five oranges, a half-dozen calcium-based chewing stones and a pan brimming with bhajia (a potato snack).