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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.

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.

Quenching the Thirst: Seattle Brings the Most Precious Liquid Abroad

EDITOR'S NOTE: Today is World Water Day. To mark the critical importance of water, the P-I is featuring two articles by Sarah Stuteville, a Seattle native and lead reporter for The Common Language Project, a Seattle-based media nonprofit. For more of Stuteville's reporting from Ethiopia, visit clpmag.org. Funding for these articles was provided by The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Haramaya: Voices from a Vanished Lake

When Chala Ahmed won the U.S. visa lottery in the town of Haramaya in eastern Ethiopia, his first thought was to earn enough money in America to build his mother a home. The new house would be painted pink and sit behind a high white gate, and it would be built on the shores of Lake Haramaya, a nine-mile stretch of placid water that gave his hometown its name.

It took Ahmed, 26, almost eight years of long-haul trucking across the United States before his family's house was finished. He sent money home regularly, and relatives reported back on the progress.

Niyamgiri: An Uncertain Future

The Dongria Kond are an indigenous tribe native to the virgin forest of India's southwestern Orissa state. For centuries they have lived high in the Niyamgiri hills, relying on its bounty of fruits and vegetables, and the wild game they hunt with bow and arrow. The Indian government once slated the range to become a protected reserve. The Dongria, for their part, hold it to be a sacred God.

The Naxalites

Deep in the virgin jungle of southern Chhattisgarh, Naxalite guerillas live, train and recruit beyond the reach of government forces.

Back in Time in Burma

During its 46-year rule, Burma's military government has turned one of the wealthiest countries of Southeast Asia into one of the poorest and most isolated nations in the world.

The damages are evident everywhere; pre-WWII commuter buses growl through the cities and grinding poverty forces beggars and prostitutes to ply the streets beneath Orwellian billboards.

Ethiopia: Dawn in Addis

5:30 a.m. and still dark. But the rooster knows the sun is coming and his crow trills up past the sulfurous street lamps into the still night sky.

He’s woken the dogs, and suddenly their frantic howling seems to come from the top of every hill in Addis, making the city seem surrounded by their feral packs.

The sharp barks are soon undercut by the rising moan of the muezzin. He sings the same words that have woken me around the world, but his melody here is unique, more of a monotonous chanting than the sung declaration I’ve heard before.