ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – It's early morning and a dozen westerners, mostly Seattleites, were getting ready to leave the capital for a three-day visit to water development projects in Oromia, one of this country's largest, rural states.
As they set out – a caravan of five land rovers moving through the dense traffic – many of them were still quietly coming to terms with the parting words of Adane Kassa, Executive Director of Water Action, the Ethiopian NGO that coordinates the projects they'll be visiting.
"As you know, the coming third world war is anticipated to be fought over water," Kassa said.
To those from water-rich regions like the Pacific Northwest, Kassa's words may have seemed hard to understand. But for the estimated seven million people worldwide who die annually from waterborne diseases or for the parents of the child under five that dies every fourteen seconds due to lack of water access and sanitation, no issue is more critical. Like Kassa, many who study this fundamental resource predict water could become the next precious liquid to destabilize the world.
Audio slideshow produced by Sarah Stuteville, Alex Stonehill, and Jessica Partnow of CLPMag.org with support from the Pulitzer Center On Crisis Reporting for Seattlepi.com.