Famous South African photographic training school, Market Photo Workshop, is bringing a collection of 24 photographs to be part of the 2012 edition of the Gwanza photographic exhibition.
Harare sits upstream from its water supply meaning that dirty water from homes and industry flows into the drinking water. This is the subject of a new photographic exhibition by photographer, Davina Jogi
The National Gallery of Zimbabwe presents her solo exhibition, titled The Cycle, and which opened on October 13, 2012.
The exhibition seeks to educate people about the pending environmental and health catastrophe that faces Harare residents.
Jogi herself has been on the receiving end of the poor quality of Harare’s water and told Zimbo Jam, “I was diagnosed with typhoid last year and the doctor said to me, ‘I wouldn't worry, Harare's water is full of it.’
This spurred her to do something. “I was astounded by his blasé attitude and by similar attitudes I encountered while photographing, and decided I needed to challenge Harare's residents to start thinking about the issue seriously.
She also said that her father sits on the Harare City Council and has brought the issue to her attention before.
“At the same time I was applying for a Media and Advocacy grant from the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg – the grant was intended for a photographer to cover a social issue that affected your society and wasn't being given much attention in the mainstream media - water and sanitation was an obvious choice for Harare.”
Zimbabwe is one of only four countries in Africa which still depend on a municipal, rather than privatised, system of water supply. A lack of investment in water infrastructure since the 1970s, and the collapse of the water purification process in particular, have seriously impacted the health, safety, dignity and livelihoods of Harare’s residents.
Since the capital city is situated upstream from its main water supply, Lake Chivero, and sits in its own catchment area, grey water from homes and industries flows through its polluted urban rivers back into the drinking water.
The water treatment process creates a cycle in which Harare’s residents literally drink their own bathwater. However, the extension of water supply and sanitation infrastructure has not been able to keep up with the urban population growth.
Last year, Harare’s town clerk, Tendai Mahachi admitted that the city was dumping untreated sewage into Lake Chivero because they did not have the capacity to treat it. His defence was that the Harare water system was designed for a population of 250, 000 – less than one-tenth of the current population.
As a result, in Harare water has become a valuable commodity. With the council able to supply only half the city’s requirements and questions being raised over its quality, a growing private water industry has begun to take up the slack.
Although the entire city has been affected, the iconic phrase from Mark Reisner’s Cadillac Desert, “water flows upstream towards power and money,” is quite literally true in Harare where the wealthier suburbs are located at the apex of the water supply cycle.
These residents can afford to dig their own boreholes or buy water. But for those ‘living downstream’ in the poorer high-density suburbs, which are totally dependent on the municipality, Harare’s water system forms a potentially deadly cycle for which a viable solution is yet to be found. And in the long-term, poor water management at household and municipal levels will affect everyone.
The Cycle is an environmental awareness exhibition through the eyes of a photographer looking at the adverse impacts of water pollution. Furthermore our cities have become so polluted that it is necessary to highlight these issues through such works because environmental pollution has become one of the 21st century crimes that needs attention. Art is a real medium to explore such issues.
Asked why she thought Harare residents were not doing more about getting this issue resolved, Jogi responded; “I think the number one reason why Harare's residents aren't doing anything about the issue is that they are uninformed and unaware how serious the situation is or how bad the possible long term affects are.
“Misinformation or a total lack of information and awareness are preventing the city from finding viable long term solutions to the problem.”
Although The Cycle tells the story of Harare, its intention is to create awareness about the need for urban water management in cities around the world.
Davina Jogi is a freelance photojournalist from, and working in, Harare Zimbabwe. She focuses on telling daily life stories about Zimbabwe that are often not covered by international media, and has worked with a variety of local and international newspapers, magazines and NGOs. She is one of the founding directors of the Zimbabwe Association of Female Photographers (ZAFP), which provides practical support to women photographers in the media industry. Davina was awarded the 2012 Media and Advocacy Grant from Market Photo Workshop for which she photographed The Cycle, about Harare’s water and sanitation problems.
Her work can be seen at www.davinajogi.com
Some of the work in Eric Gauss’ current photographic exhibition at Gallery Delta looks more commercial than it does artistic, but since he is one of the most admired photographers in Zimbabwe, one pauses, looks again, and asks the question, was this deliberate?