The global water crisis – Australians aren’t concerned enough
For the past six years renowned photographer, Mustafah Abdulaziz has travelled four continents to capture the global water crisis with powerful imagery, through the stories of people and their connection to our most valuable resource: water. For the first time ever he is bringing those stories to Australia with the exhibition Water Stories throughout August and September.
The exhibit highlights the challenges of the water crisis but also the solutions being put in place by a US$150 million program funded by HSBC to provide clean water to communities and the environment across the globe in partnership with Earthwatch, WaterAid and WWF.
Right now a quarter of the world lives in places under threat from lack of water, over 800 million people live without clean water and a further 2.3 billion live without basic sanitation causing considerable health and economic impacts.
“Australians understand water challenges due to the droughts and floods that affect our cities and rural communities alike, but might be missing how these challenges are interconnected to these very pressing geo-political issues as well,” says Dermot O’Gorman, CEO, WWF-Australia
“Water Stories shows how people in other countries deal with similar water challenges as us, but also with issues we are lucky enough not to have to face, like access to safe drinking water and sanitation,” says O’Gorman.
“The exhibition shows that the environment too needs clean water, with the world’s largest wetland, the Pantanal in Brazil, suffering very similar impacts as the Great Barrier Reef from polluted water coming from agriculture and tree clearing,” he concludes.
The artist, Mustafah Abdulaziz, has been working on this project since 2011 and will continue to until 2027. “I’ve tried to stress the interpersonal perspectives of people across the world, ” he says. “water is borderless and transcendent, affecting our health and that of our planet while binding us emotionally to the places in which we exist. We are a part of something large and cyclic and it is important to remember that we are, as a species, not the centre of it all,” says Abdulaziz.
“It is my hope that these words and my photographs [in the exhibition] will bring to viewers a level of lyricism and intimacy, so that they may walk through their gardens and be reminded that they are a part of something truly beautiful, grand and eternal,” Abdulaziz concludes.
Martin Tricaud, CEO, HSBC Australia says, “Water Stories is a very unique project, and Mustafah’s efforts to collect and document the water crisis also illustrates the goals of the HSBC Water Program. This is a global, eight-year partnership with Earthwatch, WaterAid and WWF to bring together our collective expertise and provide US$150 million in funding,”
“The impact since the partnership started in 2012 has been significant. Through the HSBC Water Program, 1.5 million people now have access to clean water, and another 2.5 million have access to life-saving sanitation. Additionally, more than 170,000 people have been assisted to reduce their impacts through farming and fishing, and more than 527,000 hectares of wetland have been protected. At HSBC, 8000 employees globally have been trained as Citizen Science Leaders, collecting data to contribute to ongoing science research projects related to freshwater,” Tricaud says.
The exhibition will be showing in Brisbane’s South Bank on 15 to 26 September 2017. It is wrapping up its display in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens on 5 September. Learn more at www.thewaterhub.org/waterstories #waterstories.
Image (lead): The water pump in Osukputu, Benue, Nigeria. Women and children gather at a hand pump that serves the community of 800 people with clean, safe water.
All images: Mustafah Abdulaziz/WWF – UK