A Christian woman washes clothes in the half-finished Erbil shopping mall that’s been transformed into a camp for Iraq’s IDPs.
Image by Sebastian Meyer and text by Jenna Krajeski, via Instagram. Iraq, 2014.
Pulitzer Center grantees Meyer and Krajeski are reporting on Iraq’s internally displaced persons.
“The opinion polls are close, the debate is exhausting and the mood is anxious,” Steven Erlanger wrote of the upcoming Scottish vote for independence for New York Times on September 12, 2014. It appears the Scots are split straight down the middle.
In early 2012, Pulitzer Center grantee Tim Judah looked for signs of separation anxiety, visiting government officials, local whisky makers, and museum curators.
Then in 2013, student fellow Henry Molski of High Point University examined the cultural, political, and economic implications of Scotland’s secession vote.
"There is no question that Scotland has the heart to beat on its own," Henry wrote. "But can it survive without a British soul?"
PENNIES FOR CLEAN WATER
Pulitzer Center grantee Sam Loewenberg writes that “getting water to poor communities [in Africa] may sound straightforward: dig a well, put in a pump and hand out water filters. But as many NGOs and aid agencies have found, it is a lot more complicated than that.”
Reporting from Uganda for The Economist, Sam notes that the list of failures is long: “A review of ten years of EU-supported water and sanitation projects in sub-Saharan Africa, together worth more than $500m, found that more than half failed to perform, due to issues such as lack of financial sustainability, poor oversight, and not regularly testing water to make sure it was safe to drink.”
But a Christian missionary organization from South Carolina seems to have come up with a market-based model that actually works. After installing the pipes and pumps, Water Missions International hands the operation over to locals. The key is charging a small fee—about two cents for 20 liters of clean water—thus giving the local operator a stake in keeping up with the maintenance.
FROM XINJIANG TO JIHAD?
The distance between Xinjiang Province, home to China’s Muslim minority Uigher community, and the battlefields of Syria is more than just a stretch of the imagination. But as Pulitzer Center grantee Richard Bernstein reports in a timely dispatch for The New York Review of Books, Chinese authorities are insisting that more than 200 Uighurs—many of them women and children—arrested by Thai authorities in March were on their way to wage jihad in Syria.
More likely, says Richard, the Uighurs are fleeing well-documented Chinese repression in Xinjiang. “They are like other refugees in this sense, but with one major difference. The Uighurs arriving in southeast Asia have triggered a tense, mostly behind-the-scenes tug of war between China, which is pressuring Thailand to send the Uighurs back, and the West, including the United States, which has entreated the Thais to reject China’s demand, arguing that giving in to it would subject the Uighurs to savage mistreatment.”
Thailand, a close U.S. ally but a close-by neighbor of China, is in a tight spot. According to Richard, “a sort of compromise is likely: as a gesture to its big and powerful neighbor, Thailand may agree to repatriate a few of the Uighurs, while allowing most of them to move on to Turkey,” a nation that has agreed to grant them asylum.
100 MILLION MISSING GIRLS
A cultural preference for sons and the willingness to abort female fetuses in places like India and China has resulted in an estimated global deficit of 100 million girl babies. The destabilizing social consequences of this gender imbalance are now being felt as a generation of men face the reality of not being able to find a spouse.
Pulitzer Center grantee Carl Gierstorfer has been documenting the crisis in India’s Uttar Pradesh state, where there are only 858 girls born for every 1,000 boys.
“Traffickers capitalize on the shortage by recruiting or kidnapping women ensnared in poverty to sell as brides,” reports Carl in this piece for CNN. “It’s a cycle influenced by poverty and medical technologies, but one that ultimately is perpetuated by India’s attitude towards women.”
Recent flooding in India’s Kashmir region has left at least four hundred dead and five hundred families still stranded on their rooftops, awaiting rescue, as reported in New York Times on September 10, 2014. Many have run out of food, but claim the state government is making little effort to provide assistance.
“Some said only the politically connected were being evacuated,” Betwa Sharma and Nida Najar write. “Others complained that the rescue teams were incompetent.”
But this week’s disaster is not the first time Kashmiri people have expressed frustrations with their leadership’s slowness. Pulitzer Center student fellow Reana Thomas’ reporting – which explores ongoing ecological threats to Kashmir’s Wular Lake – reveals similar sentiments among environmental crusaders.
“None of the authorities who support the lake actually come down to the lake. No one supports you,” aquatic biologist Dr. Ather Masoodi told Reana. “It’s a real challenge.”
Read Reana’s reporting on Kashmir locals’ quest for environmental justice to learn more.
“I emailed a friend in Kurdistan to see how he was doing,” Pulitzer Center grantee Jenna Krajeski writes, days after Sunni militants with ISIS pushed into the region. “‘Things are pretty normal,” he replied.’”
Decades of persecution under Saddam Hussein have left Kurds seemingly desensitized to threat. But according to Jenna, the continuous trauma has left deep scars on generations of Kurds, many of whom suffer from PTSD but have no access to mental health services.
Pulitzer Center grantee Sebastian Meyer has been working alongside grantee Jenna Krajeski on a long-term project documenting a year in the life of Kurdistan.
Most recently, Sebastian’s work has focused on the hundreds of Shi’ite Turkmen who have fled the town of Amerli and are seeking refuge in Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents.
As India’s economy grows, so too does its need for energy.
Tom Clement, a Pulitzer Center student fellow from Guilford College, traveled to Sikkim, in the foothills of the Himalayas, to look at India’s ambitious plans to construct a series of hydroelectric dams in remote rural area.
The project could tap the region’s vast potential, but as Tom discovers, it also “threatens the livelihood of locals and the fragile Himalayan ecosystem.”
Every year, 100,000 women leave the Philippines to work as caregivers abroad. They view migration as a necessary sacrifice to secure a future for their children.
But according to Pulitzer Center grantee and Persephone Miel fellow Ana P. Santos, the cost of opportunity is great. For a Filipino mother, “Years that would have been spent seeing her children grow up are spent watching over other people’s children,” Ana reports.
Ana has produced a documentary for The Rappler that tells the story of one family as it copes with the cost of an absent mother.
MISERY IN NORTHERN IRAQ
From Saddam Hussein’s genocidal Anfal campaign in the 1980s and a brutal civil war in the 1990s to the current threat from ISIS, Iraq’s Kurds have lived through a seemingly permanent state of conflict. The violence has left deep scars on generations of Kurds, many of whom clearly suffer from PTSD but have no access to the kind of modern medical care available to American veterans. Pulitzer Center grantee Jenna Krajeski wrote about the struggles of these Kurds in a piece for Harper’s magazine last month. More recently she spoke with NPR’s All Things Considered about her story.
Jenna and grantee Sebastian Meyer have been working on a long-term project documenting a year in the life of Kurdistan. In August, when the Yazidis, a minority sect in northern Iraq, were routed from their villages by ISIS extremists, Sebastian reported the story for Voice of America radio and filed this photo gallery for The Washington Post.
A MOTHER’S CHOICE
Ana Santos, our 2014 Persephone Miel fellow, notes that when Filipino women leave their families to find work abroad, they view migration as a necessary sacrifice to obtain the two things that will secure a future for their children: a home and an education.
But for some 100,000 women who leave the Philippines each year to work as caregivers mainly in the wealthy countries of the Middle East and Europe, this simple aspiration comes at a cost that cannot be translated into monetary terms. “A mother’s presence is deferred for the promise of economic gain. Years that would have been spent seeing her children grow up are spent watching over other people’s children,” says Ana.
A documentary produced by Ana for The Rappler tells the story of one family as it copes with the cost of an absent mother.
INDIA’S ENERGY DEFICIT
As India’s economy grows, so too does its need for energy. “Coal-fired power plants supply most of India’s electrical demand but, as India’s coal reserves dwindle, cultivating the hydropower potential of the rivers cascading through the Himalaya Mountains has become a national priority,” writes Pulitzer Center student fellow Tom Clement in an Untold Stories dispatch.
Tom, who graduated from Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., this spring, traveled to Sikkim, in the foothills of the Himalayas, to look at India’s ambitious plans to construct a series of hydroelectric dams in remote rural area. The project could tap the region’s vast potential, but as Tom discovers, it also “threatens the livelihood of locals and the fragile Himalayan ecosystem.”
In Istanbul, urban development is causing the dispossession, displacement and marginalization of inner city inhabitants.
Pulitzer Center student fellow Paul Short, an architecture major at the University of San Diego, examines the social consequences of The Housing Development Administration (TOKI)’s transformation of Istanbul and Turkey.