Waterless Podcast

Waterless contributes to the global water conversation by giving voice to, and advocating for, everyone across the world who is water disadvantaged.

Welcome to Waterless, the podcast from the Center for Collaborative Investigative Journalism (CCIJ) that contributes to the global water conversation by giving voice to, and advocating for, everyone across the world who is water disadvantaged.

Sn. 2 Ep. 5: David Dembélé and Jacques Ngor Sarr

In our first French-language podcast, David Dembélé of Senegal and Jacques Ngor Sarr talk about their potent investigation into water pollution in the Falémé River that runs between both countries.  The journalists explain how they navigated the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the devastating consequences illegal gold mining and other pollution sources have on the Falémé, and what can be done to improve the urgent and stark situation.

Sn. 2 Ep. 4: Joshua Vissers

Just how do you deal with sources who show no interest to speak to you, and then later get back to you after the story is published?

In this podcast, host Winston Mwale speaks to JOSHUA VISSERS, Associate Editor of the Mining Gazette, a US online publication, about his story “Residents of Cole’s Creek Road left out to dry.” 

The residents are accusing the the Houghton County Road Commission for cutting off their water supply with no warning, but HCRC says they did nothing wrong. When Joshua was gathering facts of the story, some sources declined to speak to him, but later accused him of “leaving out some facts.”

So, how did Joshua go about it? Above all, how did he learn about the story itself? Take a listen.

Sn. 2 Ep. 3: Jane Johnston

How do you make sure you tell a seemingly complex story in an engaging way that even your family members would love to read it,  from the beginning to the end?

And, as if this was not enough, just how do you put a human face to such a complex story?

In this episode, Jane Johnston, a US-based journalist, reveals the answers to these and many more questions that Waterless podcast host, Winston Mwale, asked about her story “One Michigan County Tells The Story of a Nation Plagued by Water Pollution”.

Sn. 2 Ep. 2: Brezhnev Malaba

In 2018, a twin cholera and typhoid outbreak hit Zimbabwe’s capital, piling on the misery. It claimed 69 lives and over 10,000 people were affected by the diseases, highlighting the dangers of Harare’s dilapidated water-supply system.

In this podcast, host Winston Mwale speaks to Brezhnev Malaba, the Zimbabwean journalist who did a wonderful story about Harare’s crumbling water infrastructure, with support from CCIJ.

Why did Brezhnev do the story? What challenges did he face when doing the story? And any tips for young investigative journalists?

You’ll learn about this and more in the podcast.

Sn. 2 Ep. 1: Jenipher Changwanda

Jenipher (Jane) Changwanda is a Malawian journalist with seven years of experience in the field. She discusses her new story, co-published with CCIJ, called “Collecting water dangerous for women and girls,” which tells the story of villages in Malawi that have been subjected to intermittent and unreliable water supply for the past 22 years. She talks about how that story came to be and how water scarcity poses a danger to women and girls globally.

Ep 5: Mayor Otu

Akwaowo “Mayor” Otu is a documentary photographer from Nigeria, who holds a degree in Biochemistry, but has pursued photography to great heights, even publishing a book on street photography. His intimate documentation of the lives of waterless people living in Ruga Katampe, a community mostly made of nomads in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, went viral after he posted the pictures on his Instagram account. The community needed N500,000 (about $1300) to get a borehole for clean drinking water. Mayor’s series, which he called “Water of Katampe” was acknowledged by Water Aid; he tells Ruona Meyer that the renowned international agency said it was unable to help the people of Katampe because they had exhausted their funding. Undeterred, Mayor tweeted at a Nigerian bank.

Ep 4: Winston Mwale

Today’s guest is Winston Mwale. Mwale is a CCIJ member and the founder and editor of Africa Brief, a news aggregator for stories about Africa. A veteran journalist, Mwale has years of experience across east and southern Africa– and beyond. He has racked up cross-continental bylines and regional awards on this journey. He specializes in investigative and solutions journalism. In this episode, Mwale discusses his work as a journalist and his new story that explores the women fighting for water from unprotected wells in Malawi.

Ep 3: Freddie Clayton

Today, Ruona speaks with CCIJ member Fredrick “Freddie” Clayton, a former civil servant turned journalist. Freddie recently flew from London to the U.S. to meet who he called the “water cops” in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ep 2: Sonja Smith

Our guest today is Sonja Smith, a freelance investigative journalist at Namibia’s biggest newspaper, called the Namibian. Smith is also a correspondent for the Associated Press and since 2013 she has broken high profile political stories, racking up front page leads consistently. With host Ruona Meyer, Smith discusses her experience as a freelance journalist and her most recent story– published in collaboration with CCIJ– about Waterless people in Namibia who are dying trying to collect water for themselves and their families. Read Smith’s story, Dying for a Drop.

Ep 1: Khaled Sulaiman

Khaled Sulaiman has a special relationship with water. In our first episode, he speaks with host and CCIJ Social Media Director Ruona Meyer about that relationship that stretches back to his early childhood and his new book, “Guardians of the Water: Drought and Climate Change in Iraq.”


Volume Logo
CCIJ logo

In March 2020, Volume co-founder Paul McNally reached out to CCIJ Founder and Executive Director Jeff Kelly Lowenstein around the possibility of working on a podcast.  This led to a conversation with Volume co-founder Roland Perold and CCIJ’s Social Media Head Ruona Meyer.  Originally discussing a single podcast, the combined team eventually came up with the idea of two distinct podcasts: The Waterless and Transparency Talks.  Meyer and Kelly Lowenstein have served as the hosts while McNally has handled the editing.  CCIJ Interns Jane Johnston and Abigail Goldberg-Zelizer have contributed with the music, logos and distribution plans.  Based on an ethos and practice of collaboration, CCIJ is proud to be partnering with Volume on this venture, and see this as the first step in an ongoing relationship.