East Africa: Access to Water

In much of the developing world, women spend more time fetching water than any other activity in their day. For more than a billion people, the water they do get is unsafe. Some 2.6 billion must make do without functioning toilets.

Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on these and related issues from east Africa, as part of a Pulitzer Center collaboration with PBS Newshour.

In the Alaba province in southern Ethiopia, water shortages have broad social and economic effects - and in one village the addition of a simple and safe water tap is a transformative event.

Few diseases of unsafe water are more painful than guinea worm. This spaghetti-like parasite takes a year to mature in its human host before bursting through the skin in painful, crippling blisters. Reporting from southern Sudan, Fred records former President Jimmy Carter's long effort, now nearly completed, to eradicate the disease.

In Kenya's capital city of Nairobi, entrepreneur David Kuria is spearheading an effort to introduce modern, eco-friendly pay toilets. Venture capital came from the New York-based Acumen Fund after Kuria was rejected by every bank he approached. Now thousands of satisfied customers pay seven U.S. cents to use these spotless facilities, which number 35 and growing. Kuria's biggest challenge is to make the business model work in slums like Mathare, the focus of this reporting.

Kenya: Sanitation in the Slums

On Wednesday, April 14, PBS NewsHour aired Fred de Sam Lazaro's latest story from Kenya: a report on social entrepreneur and Acumen Fund founder Jacqueline Novogratz. She's developed a new idea called "patient capital", that is funding innovative approaches in tackling some of the worlds most entrenched social problems. Also, a look at one man's vision for cleaner and greener public toilets in Kenya. It's part one of a two part series.

Guinea Worm on Brink of Eradication in Sudan

Decades of civil war in southern Sudan has have hindered the population's access to clean water and allowed some parasites to persist. But international efforts have made headway on one particular scourge: the guinea worm. Fred de Sam Lazaro reports from Sudan.

The piece aired on PBS NewsHour April 7, 2010.

Wells in Ethiopia Draw on Community Support

In Ethiopia, where lack of access to water is a significant issue, aid groups have found that local involvement in establishing water wells betters the chances that they will last. Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on these community-based initiatives, especially their impact on women.

This piece is part of a reporting collaboration on water issues in east Africa between NewsHour and the Pulitzer Center.

NGO Water Sector Confronts Sustainability Problem

Of the 600,000-plus hand pumps installed in sub-Saharan Africa over the past 20 years some 30 percent are known to have failed prematurely.

From Drought to Flood - Water Images Across the Globe

Water issues affect us all, from the women who spend hours daily 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 forty percent do not have access to adequate sanitation facilities. The result is one of the world's greatest public health crisis: 4,500 children die every day from waterborne diseases, more than from HIV-AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.