By DREW LOGAN
When was the last time you had to get your water from a murky roadside pond?
An exhibit called WaterCan’s Water for Life: An African Photo Exhibit, focused on East Africa’s water sanitation crisis last week at Kitchener City Hall.
The exhibit featured photographer Peter Bregg, who displayed 40 photographs of the 3,500 he had taken while touring the WaterCan project sites in East Africa.
Bregg spent seven days in Africa touring Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.
According to watercan.com, Water For Life is a charitable program launched on World Water Day in 2005 and will remain active until 2015 (WaterCan.com).
Through the exhibition’s photographs, Kenyan citizens of all ages could be seen drinking contaminated water from ponds. At the same time people could be seen bathing in them, feeding their animals or restocking their water jugs to take back home.
Pictures of Kibera, one of African’s largest urban cities, showed how disposing of waste causes sewage to flood to the homes of many, bringing flies and disease with it.
The city is home to one million children, women and men.
But there is a lighter side to the photos as well, thanks to WaterCan and Bregg’s photography. Pictures of WaterCan’s success projects could be seen throughout the 40 pictures.
“I didn’t want to show people 40 pictures of sad moments and despair, I wanted to show them that there is also hope in Africa as well,” said Bregg.
Bregg is an active member of PhotoSensitive – a photo collective that uses photography to support charitable causes.
“Anything I can do to help others is a blessing in my eyes,” said Bregg.
WaterCan is a Canadian-based organization that helps the poorest countries gain access to clean water. They do this by digging fresh water wells. The exhibition of their charitable work has been touring across Canada since 2009.
“WaterCan basically asked me if I would go to East Africa to take pictures for them, and I graciously accepted. I love when I am able to help others out with my work.”
One-seventh of the world’s population does not have access to clean water – that’s approximately 890 million people. It is also estimated that 4,100 children under the age of five each day die of diarrheal diseases caused primarily by lack of sanitary water (watercan.com).
The water and sanitation crisis kills more people than any war ever has.
“And to think I was just going to complain about my coffee being too cold,” said Erin Timmons, who was walking through the exhibit.
“It’s definitely an eye-opener,” she said.
WaterCan hopes that through the exhibition people will become concerned for the millions of people around the world who don’t have access to clean water at the turn of a tap.
Millions of women spend hours each day walking to fetch water from distant rivers and streams.
And this is why Bregg hopes that Canadians will be motivated to get involved after seeing the exhibit.
Social Services program adviser Cathy Bossenbury thought homeless Canadians had it bad, but in Africa there is a world where people wash their feet and quench their thirst at the same time.
“I just can’t imagine a single Canadian who doesn’t have access to clean water. Even the homeless here have access to fountains,” she said.
For further information contact WaterCan toll-free at 1-800-370-5658.
Did you know:
< Peter Bregg has been a member of PhotoSensitive since 1990.
< 1.5 million children under the age of five die each year as a result of diarrhea.
< Forty per cent of Kenyans do not have access to clean water.
< One in 22 women in sub-Saharan Africa die while giving birth due to lack of sanitary water.
< A Canadian use 350 litres of water each day; many African families survive on 20 litres or less.
< Every year an estimated 443 million school days are lost worldwide because of water illness.
< Thirty-thousand litres of water is used to make a car.