Friday, March 20, 2009

World Water Day - March 22

All images courtesy: Prix Prictet

World Water Day, celebrated on March 22 every year, is an initiative of the United Nations recognizing that life cannot exist without water. This year's theme: "Shared Water - Shared Opportunities" and "Whether we live upstream or downstream, we are all in the same boat." Considering the emerging hostilities surrounding increasing water shortages, the theme seems very apropos this year.

The images captured by Munem Wasif detail in stark black and white the daily impact the scarcity of clean, safe water on the people living in poorer, more rural communities. The title of Mr. Wasif’s exhibition is: “Salt Water Tears: Lives Left Behind in Satkhira, Bangladesh.” Bangladesh is one of the most at-risk countries for flooding, droughts, and scarcity of potable water in the world. If a picture is worth a thousand words; then, surely, Mr. Wasif’s images are worth five thousand words.

The gutwrenching exhibition is supported by the prestigious Prix Pictet and WaterAid. WaterAid is a UK charity which helps communities in the developing world gain access to safe water as well as sanitation and hygiene education. Currently in Bangladesh over 65 million of the total population 0f 140 million have no access to basic sanitation.

Mr. Wasif was commissioned to photograph a project managed by the charity in the Satkhira region in south-west Bangladesh. The lives of the people living there have been destroyed by increased salinity in the water table.

Cows paddle through water in search of pasture. Bolabaria, Satkhira. 2009

A boat sits idle on once-fertile land now barren from salinity. Gabura, Satkhira. 2008

The sweetwater pond that supplies the drinking water is 2 hours away. This woman needs to come here twice a day. Bolabaria, Satkhira. 2009

A mother holds her unconscious child. The child has a tumour on his/her back. The husband will not return home that day. He is fishing to support his family. Chuna, Satkhira. 2008

After viewing Mr. Wasif's revealing photos, I know I feel very blessed to be able to turn on my tap and have clean, drinking water whenever I want. It's a right I'll not give up easily.

Next blog: Ways we can make a difference!

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