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

Drought Spurs Resource Wars

On a warm January afternoon in southern Ethiopia, thousands of ill-tempered livestock stand in groups with the pastoralists who have guided them for dozens of miles to drink. The animals dot an expansive field of Acacia trees, severed bits and pieces of dead grass and dust.

Earlier in the day thousands of young goats, sheep and calves took turns to have their fill of water. And the show will not end with the cattle; camels are still waiting in line. For being the best able to resist drought, now they will be last.

Kenya and Ethiopia: The Most Dangerous Men in Kenya

The first thing I thought of when I saw the scorched whitewash, shattered windows and collapsing skeletons of businesses in Kisumu's downtown was my father's furniture store in Seattle.

Poking through the remains of doctors' offices, electronics shops and grocery stores — plastic vials and discarded packaging cracking and rustling beneath my sneakers — I imagined the nights of heartbreak the owners of these business lived through in the anarchic weeks following Kenya's most recent elections.

Ethiopia: Running on Hope

Ethiopia has been a dominant force in long distance running for decades. Despite a shortage of training infrastructure, athletes have excelled thanks to hard work, the high altitudes in their home country and the purity of the ancient sport, where whoever runs the farthest and the fastest, wins. Alex Stonehill's photo slideshow offers a taste of training in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Off the Record: World Water Crisis

Water is the new oil.

I’ve spent the last four months reporting stories on water from Ethiopia and Kenya, two countries at the forefront of the world’s coming water crisis. And while Western politicians and consumers fret over the declining economy and increasing oil prices, the news from East Africa is that with a growing majority of the world living on less than a dollar a day, the liquid that fuels bodies is becoming even more contentious than the liquid that fuels cars.