Friday, May 8, 2009

Munem Wasif - Photographs of Climate Refugees

Bangladeshi born photographer, Munem Wasif, has created a set of photographs that give insights into the harships faced by the people of Satkhira. The rise in salinity has been caused by a shift from traditional agriculture to commercial shrimp farming. The latter can generate a lot of money for a fortunate few, but for most, its consequences are disastrous. Once-fertile land turns to brackish water and local people lose access to drinking water and their livelihoods.

The image above captures the daily routine of Shajhan Shiraj and his brothers as they drag their boats across the mud in a three hour journey to collect fresh water. Similar journeys are becoming more frequent across the region as accessible drinking water becomes increasingly hard to obtain.

In A tale of lost paradise: Climate refugees, Wasif has put together a series of photographs which aim to tell stories of people who have lost their livelihood and way of living due to climate change. In the last 10 years, farmers have had to disassemble and move their tin-and-bamboo houses five times to escape the encroaching waters of the huge Brahmaputra River in Kurigram. This river is swollen out of all proportion by severe monsoon that scientists attribute to global warming and melting ice in the Himalayas. Bangladesh, with a population of 140 million people all crammed into an area slightly smaller than the state of Illinois, is a target of the most vulnerable to climate change.

Ref: New Scientist

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