An exhibition by award-winning photographer Mustafah Abdulaziz highlighting the global water crisis launches July 8 in Vancouver, Canada. Water Stories, part of Mustafah’s multiyear project “Water”, is the result of collaboration with the HSBC Water Program – a partnership between HSBC, Earthwatch, WaterAid and WWF.
Water is one of the great challenges of our time. Across the planet we are seeing our fundamental relationship with water called into question….I am honoured to work alongside NGOs who care passionately about finding answers to the question of water. –
Mustafah Abdulaziz, Photographer, Water Stories
Surrounded by water in downtown Vancouver, the outdoor exhibition will be on display at Jack Poole Plaza at the Vancouver Convention Centre from July 8 until July 24, 2017.
Over two years, Mustafah captured the effects of urbanization, poor sanitation and pollution in India, water scarcity and contamination in Pakistan, and expanding industry and population in China.
Life without safe water
Mustafah visited Kanpur in India with WaterAid in December 2014. The city’s population has grown rapidly over the past ten years, driven by economic opportunity, and 1.8 million people – half of Kanpur’s population – don’t have access to a toilet.
For people here, particularly young children, lack of safe water and toilets can be life-threatening. More than 186,000 children under five die every year in India from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.
Raju, 45, works as a laundry man, cleaning and ironing clothes for a living. He lost his daughter to an illness that doctors attributed to drinking contaminated water.
“My daughter’s name was Naina. She was two years old and had just started walking. She had fallen ill during the night and I took her to the doctor in the morning but, finally, she died.”
The exhibition shows how access to safe water and sanitation services empower people to take their first steps out of poverty and offer hope for the future. Kalavati, an inspiring 50-year-old female mason, is on a mission to build toilets.
She says, “The first time a toilet was constructed in my community I felt that no other work can be more meaningful than this.”
Kalavati was so inspired that she trained to become a sanitation mason with the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Shramik Bharti, WaterAid’s local partner. Now she has helped to build more than 2,000 toilets across the city and says she will not leave Rakhi Mandi until a toilet is constructed in every household.
A long way to water
Also featured in the exhibition is a selection of images from Pakistan, where Mustafah visited with WaterAid in September 2013.
In Pakistan’s desert areas, temperatures hover at 48-50°C on summer days. With an extremely low water table and continuing drought, sometimes water must be hauled from a depth of 150-200 feet.
“Women fall unconscious on their way to these dug wells,” said Marvi Bheel, 45, a resident of Bewatoo, Tharparkar.
The unending pursuit for water is a heavy toll on women worldwide. From the water-scarce regions in southern Ethiopia to the desert wells of Pakistan, it is women who are primarily responsible for gathering water.
Ending the water crisis
Mustafah Abdulaziz said, “Water is one of the great challenges of our time. Across the planet we are seeing our fundamental relationship with water called into question.
“The aim of this project is to use photography as a pathway to understanding. Photographs have the capacity to bring into focus our place in the world. Each story I document seeks to highlight this and I am honoured to work alongside NGOs who care passionately about finding answers to the question of water.”