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

Hollywood Star Mena Suvari Finds Special Home in Africa

The scene is Kechene, Addis Ababa - one the poorest slums in Ethiopia. Mena Suvari, one of Hollywood's eminent stars, strides across a trench of sewage. She approaches a mud-walled shack where a woman is selling charcoal and heaps of green grass for the Sunday coffee ceremonies, which characterise this eastern Africa city.

Kenya: Being Typical

One of the first pieces of advice I received before leaving on this reporting project was from an Ethiopian diplomat in the States who requested that I "not be a typical journalist" in my coverage of Africa. What he meant, and what he went on to say more specifically, was that he didn't want to see any more stories about African poverty in the news.

"Why don't you write about positive things, like investment opportunities," he suggested cheerfully as we toasted with Ethiopian honey wine in his spacious suburban home.

Words from an Ethiopian Water Walker

For women in Dillo, Ethiopia, fetching water is a daily ritual, but also a daily danger. Jessica Partnow and Alex Stonehill follow Fadi Jilo on her journey to a disease infested pool that her village relies on for water.

A Warming World, Overuse Drain Giant Lake in a Single Generation

Chala Ahmed, 26, hit the jackpot eight years ago when he won the U.S. visa lottery in the bustling eastern Ethiopian town of Haramaya.

His first thought was that he would build his mother a big, beautiful house. His next thought was that the new home, painted a rosy pink behind a high white gate, should be erected on the shore of Lake Haramaya, the huge stretch of placid water that gave his hometown its name.