The Rape of a Nation by Marcus Bleasdale

The murky dirty spring water is used by most villagers along the pipeline. Many here are sick as a result of drinking the water from the wells near the pipeline. Bacteria from the forest now runs into all the well water in the area making it dangerous to drink. Yet the closest alternative well is 8 km away and many are forced to use the polluted sources resulting in sickness. The consortium has been aware of this situation for 4 years and has done nothing. In this town 75% of the residents now suffer from waterborne illnesses. Marcus Bleasdale/Alexia Foundation

Today’s photo is from VII photographer Marcus Bleasdale’s 2005 winning professional project, “The Rape of a Nation” which documents the terrible impact of oil exploitation on Central Africa.

Marcus applied for the Alexia grant at the same time that funding for a massive, 600-mile pipeline through from the Doba oil fields in Chad leading to the coast of Cameroon had just come through. In addition to Chad and Cameroon, the pipeline would pass through the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Angola. It would slash through fragile Central African rainforest, which, among other things, is home to the Baka and Bakola peoples, communities of traditional hunter-gatherers.

In his project, Marcus shows us the effect of this pipeline, the diseases that come from drinking the water from nearby the pipeline and the loss of livelihood and food sources in the depletion of fish stocks. Even though those building the pipeline promised health centers, people living beside it still die of diseases like tuberculosis, without medical help because these centers are too far away. The pipeline promised riches and aid to those it impacted, but it is evident from Marcus’ work that the pipeline brought no benefits to those whose lives it disrupted.

Works from “The Rape of a Nation” will be on display as part of the upcoming “Eyes on the World” exhibition hosted by the Alexia Foundation at 25 CPW Gallery in New York. The exhibition opens June 20 and runs through June 23. RSVP today for the opening by writing or calling 718-753-7607.

The Alexia Foundation supports our grantees to produce stories and images that drive change. See previous photos of the day here.

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