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Luca Catalano Gonzaga | Child Survival in a Changing Climate

Bangladesh, Chalna, September 2010. Two women near their huts in the village of Chalna during floods. Their homes are increasingly threatened by rising water.This area in Bengala Bay is particularly affected by flooding. The cyclones, floods and monsoons hit the Bengal Bay annually causes the destruction of harvests and of entire villages because of increased rainfalls and sedimentation in river flow. The people who inhabit in this area are forced to migrate to Dahka slums with their children and live in dangerous and inhumane conditions.

Climate changes represent one of the biggest challenges humanity will face in the coming years. Global warming, ice melting, the frequency of droughts and floods are all symptoms of the ongoing climate change.
There are huge risks for the planet and for future generations, and we should take note of it with urgency.
As a consequence of these changes, in fact, 175 million children are in danger every year, 40% more than in the past decade. Global warming is also seriously changing the everyday lives of the world population.
The expansion of the desert area and rising sea levels are throwing into poverty entire families who depend on agriculture.

Although climate change is a global phenomenon, the effects of global warming mainly concern the underdeveloped nations, and particularly children, negatively impacting on the already elevated child mortality.
For example, every year malaria kills about 800.000 children under 5 years of age, and this number is expected to increase with increasing temperatures. Climate change will have devastating effects also on malnutrition. According to UNICEF, in the year 2050, there will be 25 million malnourished children.

The correlation between climate change and social, economic and political problems may force migration of children (eco-refugees), causing their separation from families and exposure to any kind of exploitation.
The frequency of droughts, floods, and cyclones, the progressive soil degradation, the increasing water scarcity, the high population growth rates ,unstable social and political institutions, poverty and the high levels of agriculture dependence, all these factors determine massive migration flows.

The “Child Survival in a Changing Climate” project, aims to show the consequences of climate change on the environment and living of populations, especially children, through a photo essay and a multimedia presentation. The “Child Survival in a Changing Climate” project is entirely funded by the Nando Peretti Foundation. The “Child Survival in a Changing Climate” project was realized between September 2010 and October 2011.

Bangladesh, Chalna, September 2010. Children playing in the village of Chalna.

Burkina Faso, Gandafabou, December 2010. Child sleeping in the bed of a dried up river on the road from the village of Gandefabou to Djibo.The population of this area is constantly increasing and the number of children is very high. They are the main victims of climate change and desertification in the Sahel region.

Burkina Faso, Markoye, December 2010. Trunk of a dead tree near Markoye village.

India, Dhule, February 2011. Two women bringing water and our child living inside Dhule wind farm.Dhule wind farm is located at 200 miles away from Mumbai, it is the largest in Asia and exports wind blades in Europe and the rest of world. Thousands of people who live in this industrial district, have found jobs, improving the quality of their life.

Nepal, Rolwaling Valley, September 2011. Some inhabitants of Rolwaling valley on the road to Dolakha town. Thousand of people leave the vally worried by the floods. Most of villages in Rolwaling Valley are at risk of being flooded by the rivers descending from Tsho Rolpa Lake.The progressive melting of this glacier due to global warming puts at risk thousands of lives.

Mongolia, Gobi desert, June 2011. Children playing near their gher in the Gobi Desert.The drought hit areas adjacent the Gobi desert, causes an increase desertification and doesn’t make possible the survival of people inhabit these places breeding their animals. Thousand of people move with their families on the outskirts of the capital Ulan Bator.

Mongolia, Gobi desert, June 2011. Inhabitants of Gobi desert inside their gher.

Zambia, Chirundu, March 2011. LAMEK, 10 ten years old, affected by malaria, is lying in the bed of his hut in a village in Chirundu district.Due to climate changes in Zambia the increase of rainfalls, temperatures and humidity raise the survival of pests and mosquitoes and the consequent transmission of malaria. One child out of four dies for malaria and about 50% of children affected are hospitalized. Mtendere Mission Hospital takes care of children affected by this desease.

Zambia, Chirundu, March 2011. A doctor takes care of a child suffrering from malaria in Mtendere Mission Hospital.

Kenia, Daadab, May 2011. A young mother setting on a chair to be photographed while her daughters waiting in Daadab Camp Registration Center.Passing through the Registration Centre is mandatory, here every single refugee is photographed and fingerprinted. Becoming official refugees means getting a ration card, and thereafter, twice-weekly food.

Kenia, Daadab, May 2011. Three sisters setting on a chair to be photographed for the registration in Dadaab Refugee Camp.

Interview with Luca Catalano Gonzaga

(by Anna Mola)

Anna Mola: In your pictures, I can clearly see your worry about the environment. Do you think this is the real purpose of your reportage? In general, do you think every contemporary reportage should have a specific purpose

Luca Catalano Gonzaga: In my opinion each reportage should have a specific purpose, that is to say, it must generate awareness;  global warming is an important issue and my focus is the impact of climate change on children. Climate change represents one of the biggest  challenges  humanity will face in the coming years. There are huge  risks for the planet and for  future generations, and we should ackonwledge it with urgency. The “Child Survival in a Changing Climate” project, is entirely funded by the Nando Peretti Foundation, which has always believed in and supported the importance of this work.

A. M.: Describing your photos, you use words like “change”, “survive” and “risk”, “urgency”. Paraphrasing a Toledano’s work – in a different contest – how much “hope” and how much “fear” is there in your project?

L. C. G.: I  still hope that it’s possibile everything can to change, maybe thanks to public awareness created by the work of photojournalist and humanitarian organizations. As a father I have four sons and I’m very anxious for future generations.

A. M.: Observing the whole project, I see several pictures in color and other in b/w. Is there a particular reason that “carries out” your choice regarding this aspect?

L. C. G.: Color becomes the choice when you are in a country like India where it’s a great attraction and clearly the choice is also dictated by the light to illuminate
your subject.

A. M.: I’ve founded very interesting the images representing people, in Kenya, during a registration, while they’re about to be photographed. Would you explain the reaction – maybe the relation – between these tribes and a technological item as a photo camera?

L. C. G.: Every morning a thousand Somali refugees after crossing the border with Kenya, and walking for additional 80 kilometers, queue in front of the
UNHCR Registration site of Dadaab, in Kenya. In the area designated for the United Nations, every single refugee is photographed and fingerprinted. UNHCR registration is a miraculous goal: it finally means tents, lavatories, drinking water, healthcare facilities and food passes. Actually women and children were pretty intimidated in front of  this technological item and in a foreign place, but this reaction is entirely predictable.

A. M.: As founder of “Witness Image” and, of course, in your work, you’re a photojournalist. Separating the word, how much you would define a “photographer” and how a “journalist”? Or maybe one can’t exist without the other one?

L. C. G.: Witness Image is a non-profit organization, the intento of which is to promote education and respect for human rights and liberties as described by the resolution 217A of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I believe that through photography it is possible to show the truth in all its harshness by paying total respect to human dignity. I believe the photografers can’t exist without journalist because by the combination of visual reportage production and journalism tradition,  I want to stimulate positive social change and I believe in the language of photography power to change people’s lives by helping them make their voices heard. Each project developed by Witness Image is entirely financed by charitable foundations, companies and print selling.

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