Munem Wasif Water Tragedy: Climate Refugee of Bangladesh
Farmers beside Brahmaputra in Kurigram have had to move five times at least, in the last ten years. Every year rivers are becoming more violent while people living beside them are becoming more vulnerable. Like Bashumati Debi of Munshiganj, a wiry 37-year-old who has never driven a car, ran an air conditioner or done much of anything that produces greenhouse gases.
There are many more all over the world that are on the verge of becoming climate refugees, the tragic victims of too much or too little water. Water resource issues interact with a wide range of socioeconomic and environmental sectors including health, agriculture, biodiversity, public safety, industry, and navigation. Even if the emission of greenhouse gases were stabilized today, increases in temperature and the associated impacts including water availability and flooding will continue for many, many years. Things are more critical in a country like Bangladesh which has 140 million people packed into an area a little smaller than Illinois. In recent decades more intense rainfall events have occurred and people here experienced extreme water events in the form of severe flood, drought and heat waves. Last year the electric tidal force of the harsh Cyclone Sidr blow or the crushing rivers all have altered lives of this inhabitance. People lost children, crops from a field, house or the piece of yard that was their only asset. Only flood took away 1.5 million acres of crop, Sidr snatched away
10 - 15 thousand lives and river erosion gulped thousand acres of land. As the sea level slowly rises, this nation that is little more than a series of low-lying deltas islands amid some of Asia’s mightiest rivers – the Ganges, Jamuna-Brahmaputra and
Meghna - is seeing saltwater creep into its coastal soils and drinking water. Water is a critical core sector so what impacts here have cascading effects.
From the sustainable development perspective, the top priority for adaptation in the water sector should be to reduce the vulnerabilities of people and societies caused by increased climate variability and extreme events. Otherwise Bashumati’s mighty Padma will keep snatching. Many Monwara’s Quran will be blown. Countless Hatem Ali’s milking cows will get lost. These simple people who are always fighting with immense poverty and misfortunes still live a happy village life with no contribution in changing their very known weather will constantly face the water tragedy. It is time to take proper cautions, policies and regulations to lessen the gap between worse and better. Water is life; let there be life. Let’s not make it a tragedy.
About the photographer
1983, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Munem Wasif is a documentary photographer, who graduate of Pathshala - the South Asian Institute of Photography. Wasif started his journalistic career as a feature photographer for the Daily Star, a leading English daily in Bangladesh. Following that, he worked as a staff photographer for two years with DrikNEWS, an international news photography agency. Now, he is represented by Agence VU.
Wasif’s prime area of interest revolves around socio-political documentaries. His photographs have been published in numerous national and international publications including Le Monde, Himal Southasian, Asian Geographic, Photo District News, Issue Magazine, Zonezero, Forum, pdfx12, Tiffinbox, Daily Star, Daily New Age, Daily New Nation, and Daily Shomokal.
In 2008, Wasif was selected as one of the 30 emerging photographers Photo District News, USA. In 2007, he was selected for the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass in the Netherlands. He won an Honorable Mention in 2007 All Roads Photography Program by the National Geographic Society. He also won first prize in the Konkurs Fotografii Prasowej for his extensive work on tea garden workers.
Additionally, he has won two bronze prizes in the China International Press Photo. His work has been exhibited worldwide, including the Anchor photo festival in Cambodia; the International Photography Biennial of the Islamic World in Iran; the Fotofreo- festival of photography in Australia; the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Japan; and Getty Image Gallery in England.
Benoit Aquin, The Chinese 'Dust Bowl', 2006-2007
Edward Burtynsky, Selected works, 1996-2007
Jesus Abad Colorado, Landscapes and Battles: Two wings wait for the end of the tragedy, 1995-2002
Thomas Joshua Cooper, The World's Edge - The Atlantic Basin Project, 1998-2006
Sebastian Copeland, Antarctica - The Global Warning, 2006
Christian Cravo, Waters of Hope, Rivers of Tears, 1995-2008
Lynn Davis, Ice, 1988-2007
Carl De Keyzer, Moments before the Flood, 2006-2007
Reza Deghati, War and Peace, 1994-2006
Susan Derges, Eden & The Observer and the Observed, 1991-2008
Malcolm Hutcheson, Lahore's Waste Water Problem, 2008
Chris Jordan, In Katrina's Wake: Portraits of Loss from an Unnatural Disaster, 2005
David Maisel, Terminal Mirage & The Lake Project, 2001-2004
Mary Mattingly, Second Nature and Time Has Fallen Asleep, 2004-2008
Robert Polidori, After The Flood, 2005-2006
Roman Signer, Body of Work, 1976-2000
Jules Spinatsch, Snow Management, 2004-2008
Munem Wasif, Water Tragedy: Climate Refugee of Bangladesh, 2007