Laurent Weyl | Bangladesh: The Inconstant Archipelago

PRIVATE 55, p. 26-27
PRIVATE 55, p. 26-27

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[T]he village that becomes an island six months a year. Like many other villages from the North Eastern Bangladesh “haors”, the land that surrounds Abdulhapur island is flooded every year. For six months. We first visited Abdulhapur while traveling for another report in 2006. We were so impressed by the shape of this narrow and overcrowded island that we decided to stay for a few days. The stories people told convinced us that we had to come back for a longer period of time. We returned during the wet season of 2007 and 2008. We are now planning to come back a fourth time.

Once a year, the Meghna, one of the three main rivers in Bangladesh, invades all the Kishargonj area in the North East of the country. The inland sea which is created remains there for around six months. During this period of time the people gather their families, crops and cattle on narrow man made islands which are known as “hoars”. Depending on their wealth, they can rest or strive to survive until the next dry season. In a way these islands are Bangladesh in reduction.

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Abdulhapur: overcrowded, vulnerable but lively. At monsoon time, when the wet season is back, about 15 000 people flock with their crops and cattle on Abdulhapur which is one of these haors crop. The richest families don’t need to work if the single rice crop harvested on their fertile lands during the dry season is good. The poorer families have to borrow money, go fishing, or get involved in some daily work paid in rice. Whether they can rest or not, they all pray that a storm will not destroy their mud built islands. They also look forward to the dry season when they will be able to walk and run again in the open fields. And sometimes they fight together on clan/political/economical grounds, to free themselves from tensions accumulated during the wet season. (Donatien Garnier / Argos)

(Laurent Weyl | Bangladesh: The Inconstant Archipelago, PRIVATE 55, pages 26-29)