Full Frame features photo essays and conversations with photographers in the field.
"Ten years ago we lived 3 kilometers farther out to what is now sea, but now we have to move our houses back once or twice a year as the sea takes more of the island," said Deb Mondol, 40, who has worked on the island of Ashar Chor for more than 15 years.
Ashar Chor sits in the Bay of Bengal in the southern coastal area of Bangladesh. The country is only 1 meter aboe sea level and is prone to natural disasters, making Ashar Chor one of the most unpredictable places to live in the world. With the sea rising, Ashar Chor’s natives have begun relocating to other parts of the country, increasing the number of climate change refugees in Bangladesh.
The only source of income on the island is dry fish (shutki). The whole community depends on it, but weather conditions are hampering the small industry. Unexpected rains make it harder to catch the fish and dry them out. In 2007 the cyclone SIDR wiped out much of the island, leaving 2,000 residents with nowhere to go. One-third died.
But even before SIDR destroyed their settlement, the people on Ashar Chor said that over the past decde the increasingly unpredictable weather and rising sea levels have had a huge effect on their ability to survive.
In Ashar Chor, there is little security or comfort, only the harshness of life. As a visual artist, I tried to bring out the hardship and hassles the islanders face every day.
Bangladesh wants industrialized countries to cut their emissions by 25 to 40 percent in the next 15 years with all countries making a binding commitment. Within 20 to 25 years, the island of Ashar Chor could be gone.
See another Full Frame by Khaled Hasan on Bangladeshi stone-crushers.
About the photographer:
I was born to a little family in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, in 1981. I started my visual training as a photographer in 2001. I am very inspired by my teachers Shahidul Alam and Reza Deghati, who taught me how to honor my photographic subjects. I worked as a freelancer for several daily newspapers in Bangladesh and for the photo agency Majorityworld. My photographs have been published in the Sunday Times Magazine, American Photo, National Geographic, Better Photography, Saudi Aramco World and The New Internationalist.
I was one of the winners of the 2008 All Roads Photography Program of the National Geographic Society for my documentary project. In 2009, I received an Alexia Foundation Student Award for excellence. In 2009, I won the Grand Prix of “Europe and Asia — Dialogue of Cultures” International Photography Contest organized by the Museum of Photography in Russia.
I always want to document culture with my photographs and tell a story with them as a messenger for the community. My philosophy is that it is essential for the photographer to foster communication and trust with his subjects. Photography has the visual power to educate by allowing us to enter the lives and experiences of others. Through photography, I hope to help society to empathize with the hidden social, political and environmental problems that people suffer. It is important to realize that no documentation will ever be finished. This work informs my identity, which started at one point but has no ending.