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Pulitzer Center Update April 27, 2012

This Week in Review: Waste Land

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Media file: Dandora.1.jpg
Image by Micah Albert. Kenya, 2012.

It is entirely fitting that during the same week an international tribunal in The Hague convicted former Liberian leader Charles Taylor of war crimes, Pulitzer Center grantees Steve Sapienza and Tecee Boley reported on that country's continuing inability to provide clean water to its citizens. War and water are closely related in West Africa. Taylor was convicted of atrocities he perpetrated in neighboring Sierra Leone, but as Steve and Tecee document for the PBS NewsHour, the region's chronic wars not only diverted resources necessary to build water infrastructures, they also caused vast migrations of rural dwellers to over-crowded urban slums. Their numbers overwhelmed the already beleaguered infrastructure. Lack of clean water, adequate sanitation and government accountability continue to thwart the region's development. The NewsHour report from Liberia was the third in a series of Pulitzer Center collaborations with local journalists on West Africa's water crisis.

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For Foreign Policy, grantees David Conrad and Micah Albert report on the ever-growing mountain of trash that is Nairobi's Dandora dump. Nearly a third of the Kenyan capital's inhabitants live in slums that surround the dump site. The dump is a constant source of illness and poor health, but it also provides a meager livelihood to legions of scavengers. It is, writes David, "a symbol of a larger problem: Even as Kenya touts continued economic growth and cultural influence—including proudly hosting the Nairobi Securities Exchange, the financial hub of east and central Africa, and regional headquarters for the likes of General Electric, Google, Coca-Cola, the United Nations Environmental Program, and U.N.-Habitat—its poorest citizens have been left behind by their country's rise."

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The Pulitzer Center and members of its Campus Consortium network have selected 10 students to receive international reporting fellowships. The fellowship recipients will report on a range of global issues from around the world, and be mentored by Pulitzer Center-supported journalists and staff over the course of their projects. This year's fellows are Keyla Beebe, Guilford College; Andrew Faust, High Point University; Yasmin Bendaas, Wake Forest Unversity; Adam Janofsky, University of Chicago; Melissa Turley, The George Washington University; Meghan Dhaliwal and Jason Hayes, Boston University; Hashim Yonis, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota; Edith Ismene Nicolaou-Griffin, Davidson College and Samantha Thornton, University of Miami.

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The Pulitzer Center is delighted to congratulate two of its grantees, Kwame Dawes and Eliza Griswold, who have been named Guggenheim fellows. Kwame was part of the team of Pulitzer Center journalists who spent a year reporting on Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating January 2010 earthquake. Eliza's article on Afghan women who risk death to write poetry appears in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine. The work is part of her Pulitzer Center project Afghanistan: On Love and Suicide.

Until next week,

Tom Hundley
Senior Editor