Surviving the Floods
The floods of 2013 displaced over 150,000 people in the Gaza province of Mozambique. In the immediate aftermath, mass evacuations to temporary camps and relocation sites resulted in large-scale humanitarian needs. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and partners in the UN and NGO community immediately reacted to support emergency life-saving measures. Having given legal and material protection to Internally Displaced Populations (IDP’s) from the flood, IOM still saw a need to continue working with the communities.
In December of 2014, I conducted a participatory photo documentary project with flood survivors in three of the relocation sites. The project utilized a community based participatory research method known as photovoice, which combines photography with grassroots social action and is commonly used in the fields of community development, public health, and human rights. Seventeen participants were given cameras and asked to represent their community or point of view by taking photos, discussing them together, and developing narratives to go with the photos. An assessment of these photos and narratives provided evidence of the reach and impact that durable solutions can have on communities in resettlement sites. This project served to evaluate the IOM resources that have been most effective in preventing people from returning to live in the flood zone. In addition, it measured the astounding resilience of Mozambicans to make radical life adjustments in the face of a natural disaster. Examples of participant's photos and narratives can be seen in the PHOTOVOICE section of this site.
This selection of photos features portraits of some of the the participant's from this praject, as well reportage images that were taken while spending a considerable amount of time in the camps. In addition to conducting photovoice, which entails numerous in-depth interviews and focus groups, I also incorporates my own photography into the methodology. By working closely with participants, I am able to build trusting rapport and gain access into the communities that I work with. The end result is a combination of perspectives that, in this case, include those of internally displaced flood survivors as well as observations made by myself as a public health professional and photographer working in the resettlement sites.