Translate page with Google

Pulitzer Center Update October 9, 2014

This Week: Mapping Cholera—A Tale of Two Cities

Media: Author:
Media file: screen_shot_2014-10-02_at_1.36.57_pm.jpg

The cholera epidemic that hit Haiti four years ago bears some startling resemblances to one that...

Media file: screen_shot_2014-10-02_at_2.08.24_pm.jpg
Mapping Cholera: A Tale of Two Cities. Map designed by Dan McCarey.


Science writer and Pulitzer Center grantee Sonia Shah looks at two devastating cholera epidemics separated by nearly two centuries: "One began four years ago this month and the other in the summer of 1832—but they are otherwise strikingly similar, and the parallels offer some lessons for public health officials today."

The recent epidemic occurred on the island nation of Haiti shortly after the January 2010 earthquake. More than 700,000 people were stricken and 8,000 died. The earlier epidemic also hit an island population: Manhattan. Medical records from that time count 5,800 cases of cholera and more than 3,000 deaths.

In this innovative project for Scientific American, Sonia tracks the course of the two epidemics with help of an interactive map developed for the Pulitzer Center by Dan McCarey. Dan's map will be available for embedding after October 12th.


"When Iraqi Kurds say that Kirkuk is their Jerusalem, they are referring both to the city's cultural significance and to the trouble it causes," write Pulitzer Center grantees Jenna Krajeski and Sebastian Meyer in a dispatch for The New York Times.

With Iraqi government forces in disarray, Kurdish militias and the Kurdish Regional Government have stepped in to secure the ethnically mixed city against the encroaching forces of the Islamic State. "But...suspicions about the Kurds' agenda have intensified, adding to the challenge of running the city as it verges on a humanitarian crisis," say Jenna and Sebastian. "Throughout Kirkuk there are now signs in Arabic that read, 'United, we can defeat ISIS.' Yet this attempt to rally non-Kurds cannot seem to overcome their worry that the Kurds will use the current conflict as a cover to acquire land and access to oil fields."

In a separate report for Harper's magazine, Jenna reports from the Kurdish capital, Erbil, on the plight of hundreds of displaced Christians who have fled the ISIS onslaught and now find themselves living in half-built shopping malls on the outskirts of the city.

"It made perfect sense, in a way: Iraqi Kurdistan is in the midst of an economic boom, the harvest of which, so far, seems to be half-built malls. With the Islamic State on the border, construction has come to a halt, and the malls and other developments—the future offices, apartments, and shops of the hyper-developed oil state that Kurdish leaders and investors like to envision—are being used to house the nearly 1.5 million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have poured into Kurdistan."


Large parts of Ukraine are threatened not only by the Russians, but also by climate change. In a report for The Ecologist, Pulitzer Center grantee Dimiter Kenarov documents the rising waters and diminished fishery of the Azov Sea, the northernmost extension of the Black Sea.

"In the first half of the twentieth century the Azov was one of the most productive seas in the world and certainly the most productive one in the Soviet Union," writes Dimiter. "Today, however, the Azov is a pale shadow of itself, most of the fish populations severely reduced or already extinct."

Dimiter's report is the first in a project on the Black Sea that will explore environmental issues, on and offshore, and show their complex relation to regional—and now global—political and social problems.

Until next week,

Tom Hundley
Senior Editor


yellow halftone illustration of an elephant


Environment and Climate Change

Environment and Climate Change
navy halftone illustration of a boy carrying two heavy buckets


Water and Sanitation

Water and Sanitation