Everydaychildhood: Troubled waters, thirsty deserts and tormented childhoods through Arati Kumar Rao’s camera

Everydaychildhood: Troubled waters, thirsty deserts and tormented childhoods through Arati Kumar Rao’s camera | Leher NGO in India

@aratikumarrao is a visual storyteller – a photographer and writer who uses images, video, maps, and infographics to explore lives and places. She is averse to being classified under any category. As she observers “I tell stories-real-life stories, about landscapes and people, their traditional lives and the changes they see in it over time focusing mostly on issues that are underreported in the mainstream media.

Her muse is the water and she has been documenting the effects of land use change on ecosystems and livelihoods for more than a decade. Her haunting images of land, people, animals and water evoke shades of the majestic even as they sharply express the ravaged. She has reported stories of @slowviolence on humankind from the Sunderbans, to the Ganges, from the Thar Desert to the Brahmaputra river basin, captured the harrowing and eye-opening images of #environmentalrefugees, their catastrophic impact on the lives of children and their families and what it means for the future generations.

Named by Shutterstock in ‘100 Photographers From Around the World That You Should Follow Right Now’, Arati is also a contributor to @everydayclimatechange, a founding member of @peepliproject and has received various grants and awards for her outstanding work.

Arati sure knows the power of a good story as is visible through her compelling narrative and stunning photographs. Read her stories on @everydaychildhood and follow @aratikumarrao for more of her powerful and increasingly important work.

Portraits of #environmentalrefugees — kids without an assured education. Their parents have no assured livelihood. All of them have no assured homes. This district is sixth highest in all of India in population of kids. It is also one of the Most Backward Districts. Everyone rolls beedis by day, earns about a dollar or two a week, and listens to the river each night. The #Ganges rushes hungry, 80 ft below the precipice their homes perch precariously on. The monsoon, when the river will begin to rise, is two months away. The hungry river, deprived of her silt by the Farakka Barrage, has undercut the precipice, cleaved long chunks, and waits to eat all that is above. The refugees of Murshidabad district, squeezed between an encroaching river and a national highway, say they have forgotten what a good night's sleep is. #environmentalmigration #environmentaldisaster #refugees #erosion

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This is life in the interstice. A precipice plunges into the #Ganges river on one side, trucks thunder past on a smooth tolled National Highway on the other. Here, in-between, #environmentalrefugees of #erosion- torn West Bengal roll beedies. Women, kids, and anyone who can and is willing, cuts the leaves, stuffs tobacco, and rolls rolls rolls. Baskets walk out to the only painted polished half-way solid structures in the area: beedi distribution centers. "But then the UN comes," said a middle-aged man, father in law to a sarpanch. "They come and they ban beedies. They say it is unhealthy. Ok. Then give us an alternate livelihood. Give us a way to live." ——————————————————–Thoughtless, ineffective fixes, like boulder-bunds against rampant erosion by the #Ganges, are creating a slew of new #refugees. Bank-line erosion has increased after the Farakka Barrage was built in the 70s. It has disrupted the natural balance of silt carried by the river, increasing the river's appetite for land downstream. As a result, the river gulps up fertile paddy fields, rich groves of mangoes, homesteads, schools, everything. Lakhs and lakhs are forced back by the river each year, squeezed into ever narrowing strips of land, with no means of livelihood or sustenance. #onassignment for @theasiafoundation #transboundaryrivers #rivers #environmentalmigration #environmentalmigrants #erosion #displacement #dams #poverty #livelihood #loss #displacement

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What do you dream of, little Reena? What do you want to be? A teacher, she said. These people are from West Bengal. They lost their left bank land to an eastward migrating #Ganges upstream of the Farakka Barrage. A few years on, a char appeared on the right bank and they "recognized their land" and settled there. But the way the borders were drawn, West Bengal did not recognize that territory as its. The char has joined the mainland of Jharkhand. Ergo the char "belongs" to Jharkhand. But not necessarily the people. These char people are citizens of nowhere. Caught between a wandering river and two states, their future is as uncertain as the ephemeral sandbar they live on. #onassignment for @theasiafoundation #transboundaryrivers #rivers #environmentalmigration #environmentalmigrants #erosion #Ganges #livelihood #bengal #migration #environmentalrefugees #refugees #displacement

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A cloud burst in the hills of arunachal and a river raced down to the plains. Boulders were mined from its bed and trees had been felled. There was nothing to slow the river's furious pace. Its flow altered, and carting loads of sand loosened by the mining and deforestation, the river changed course, found a weak spot in an embankment, burst through and flooded fields of rich paddy and buried them under two meters of sand; the fields would now lie inert for years. This was the original course of the river. Children carefully collect sand strained water from the river bed. Upper Assam, #India #monsoon2014 #Monsoons #onassignment #FreshwaterTrail #rivers #mining #deforestation #floods #embankments #drinkingwater #watersecurity #cleanwater #livelihoods for @peepliproject

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Photo Credits : Arati Kumar Rao

Words By : Leher

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