Launch of Photo Exhibition ‘Dialogue with Water’

Dear Friends,

October 24 is celebrated every year worldwide by the United Nations and its partners as the ‘UN Day’. On this day, we highlight our joint work towards the improvement of people’s lives. The specific achievements we seek are defined in the mandate of the United Nations itself, and through the goals that the Governments of the world have agreed to work towards. The Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) best exemplify our common objectives: concrete targets to improve people’s lives in a clear timeline. Just as important is HOW we work: partnerships both global and local are the key to effective achievement of sustainable results.

As many of you may know, the United Nations General Assembly has declared this year as the International Year of Water and Sanitation. The objective of the General Assembly was to raise awareness and accelerate progress towards the MDG target of reducing by half the proportion of the 2.6 billion people who are without access to basic sanitation and, or water by the year 2015. Imagine 2.6 billion people in the world without access to quality water and basic sanitation!

Yet, we can see this problem even here in Kyrgyzstan. I think we all recognize that water has a strategic importance in Central Asia. It is crucial for energy, for agriculture and economic development even while there is growing recognition, perhaps for the first time in the history of this region, that water is a limited resource in Central Asia. The solutions to these strategic aspects of water management fall to political leaders and we sincerely hope that they will be guided by long term sustainable development objectives.

But, let us be clear: water also critically affects the quality of people’s daily lives. While the absolute numbers in Kyrgyzstan are small by world standards, an astounding 41% of the population lack access to improved sanitation, and 23% lack access to an improved water source (2007-2008 UNDP Human Development Report; Figures from 2004).

The challenge behind these “dry” statistics has given us our inspiration for today’s events. We thought to discuss water and sanitation in an artistic format to commemorate people’s own understanding of the issues and of the importance of water and sanitation.

So, I would like to wholeheartedly welcome you to the opening of the photo exhibition we titled ‘Dialogue with Water’. We are truly fortunate to present the works of renowned photographers from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. These art works depict the many faces of water as a resource in the region. We approached the exhibition without trying to make a message ourselves. Rather we would like the photographers, indeed the people themselves, to share their understanding of water as a resource, the struggle they face when it isn’t easily available, and their creativity in meeting this most basic of human needs. Creative solutions are great, but I also believe that if we can improve access to water and sanitation in Kyrgyzstan, it is more than improving the quality of people’s lives: we can save the lives of children in particular.

Our intention, therefore, is to share with you the images of how people of the region use this resource when it is plentiful or when it is scarce. Some of the photographs will bring smiles to your faces as we see children playing in the small pond. Others will show the problems that the lack of water brings to families.

Please keep in mind our objectives towards real improvements in people’s lives as you enjoy this show, let us be creative in achieving results in the shortest time frame possible. Please go and see the over 40 photographs and enjoy them as much as we did when preparing this exhibition.

Thank you.

Published date 24, Oct. 2008


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