Long Read
9 December 2015

Bangladesh’s water world: A photo exhibit

Bangladesh is a country battling against water. Climate change has worsened the situation. Droughts, floods and a rising sea level are a constant threat to life and livelihood of the Bangladeshis. During wet months, there’s water everywhere, but ironically, almost 21 million of its population do not have access to an improved water source. Out of its 150 million population, 60 percent are accessing unsafe water. To create awareness on the issues surrounding water, Simavi’s partner Development Organisation of Rural Poor (DORP) and the Association of Advanced and Professional Photographers Bangladesh (APPB) organised a photography exhibit in Drik Gallery in Dhaka recently.

Water is an everyday issue in the country and water availability greatly fluctuates depending on the season. During dry months, there is massive drought and during monsoon season, the barrage of floodwater threatens existing water catchments. There is a lack of facilities that catch water during rainy season to save for drier months. Compounding the problem is the rising sea level that eats up fresh water sources and the presence of arsenic in groundwater sources.

Bangladesh is in danger for lack of access to clean water and sanitation

Aptly titled ‘The Right To Water’, the exhibit showcased Bangladesh’s constant battle against water and the effects of climate change to people’s lives. This is demonstrated in the photos of Shamsul Haque Suza where he captured families in makeshift banana-trunk rafts traversing the flood while balancing their precious water in containers. Meanwhile, Farukh Ahmed’s photos of young and old women lining up in water stations and later taking home their water in their ubiquitous tin cans, showed the important role of women play. The scarcity of water in cities and villages as well as innovative ways of catching water were also pictured. Also underlining the exhibit’s theme is the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme that Simavi and its partners are promoting in the country.

Women rafting in the river, discussing water sanitation projects, fetching water, cooking and washing. Young girls helping their mothers fetch water. Boys washing and playing in the water. Men drinking and taking their animals to the river. These were just some of the images mounted on 80 photos, captured by 24 photographers. They are expressions of the everyday life of the Bangladeshi people where water plays a central role.

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