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

Kenya: Disappearing Lake

Chala Ahmed had a dream. He wanted to build a waterfront home for his family on the shores of Lake Haramaya, in eastern Ethiopia. Now, that's impossible. The lake has dried up. Lakes around the world are shrinking. Some blame climate change. Others believe poor water mismanagement is the root of the problem. Whatever the cause, the shrinking water supply is affecting communities across the globe. Jessica Partnow reports from Ethiopia.

In Focus: Water Wars

World Water Day on March 22 reminds us of the 1 billion people on Earth who lack easy access to the water most of us take for granted. Global climate change is making that struggle worse, as we see in this report from the rugged region of southern Ethiopia, where drought is drying up wells, threatening an ancient way of life and fueling conflict.

If you can not access the video on YouTube, you can download a wmv file.

Credits:
Special thanks to Salihu Sultan and the Ethiopian Red Cross

A Treacherous Trek to the Crater's Edge

"Just breathe," I comforted myself as I shuffled slowly through the dusty gravel. "One breath with each step," I repeated raggedly as 50 pounds of brackish water sloshed rhythmically against the sides of the muddy yellow jerrycan strapped to my back.

Sweat rolled down my hairline, dropped from my forehead and splashed in a shape like raindrops on the gray slate beneath me. To keep from slipping, I tried to follow exactly in the footsteps of the cracked plastic sandals in front of me.

Museveni's Dams a Threat to Lake Victoria

As the first rays of sunlight streak into Lake Victoria, Idi Otwoma and his two sons leave their village, pick up their nets and board their old wooden boat for the port of Kisumu.

The sales from his catch put bread on the table for his family of two wives, eight children and nine grandchildren.

But in the last few years, the seasoned fisherman has barely caught enough fish to feed his family. The catch is dwindling and this is becoming a tall order for Idi and his sons.

Kenya's Elephant Problem

Kenyan farmers are troubled by their newest neighbors — elephants. A growing elephant population is destroying crops and creating violent confrontations. Jessica Partnow reports on a plan to reign in the pachyderms.