U.Va. Exhibit Gives Voice to Issues of Health and Water in South Africa

June 01, 2009

June 1, 2009 — "Water & Health | Photovoice," a photo exhibit, will be on view June 11 through Sept. 3 in the Newcomb Hall Art Gallery at the University of Virginia.

The photographs, taken by residents of a poor South African village, reveal their perceptions about water, health and sustainability. The photo journal project was a community-based participatory research endeavor led by U.Va. and the University of Venda in Limpopo, South Africa, designed to empower villagers by combining photography with grassroots social action.

The water source for the village begins at a waterfall in the mountains and flows down a stream that ends near the village. Over the years, residents put together crude above-ground pipes to bring water from the stream closer to the village for drinking and irrigation. Some still walk daily up the mountainside to collect water.

Many of the villagers live in traditional mud huts with straw roofs called roundavels and exist on subsistence farming. Life is physically hard, and diseases of poverty and incidence of HIV are high.

The photographs provided the project participants an avenue to begin community discussions about water and health issues.

For information, contact Tim Cunningham at 434-249-2354 or tdc8h@virginia.edu.