Water Walkers: Portraits of Ghana’s Street Vendors

Photographs by Melissa Haeffner
Now on view at Rotch Library (7-238) Photo of water walker

April 1 – 30, 2010

Urbanization of water is a fact of life in developing countries where growing cities require alternative flows of water to meet demand. And yet, so little of the literature has previously considered the role of young vendors in water distribution in developing countries. This exhibition of photographs compliments a book of the same title, written from 100 interviews with street vendors, mostly young ladies, who are active participants in moving water around developing cities.

Through digital storytelling, Haeffner presents the daily experience of water vendors as they negotiate their way through spatial dimensions of traffic and market, home and school. Although these portraits are often of individuals, collectively, they represent the broader community of a new generation of young adults growing up on the rapidly urbanizing streets in the developing world. Haeffner hopes to contribute to the current discourse in sustainable development by adding the social context to this primarily technical project of water distribution to urban populations.

This project was funded in part by a Director’s Grant from the Council of Arts and the Program on Human Rights and Justice, both at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For more information, visit www.melissahaeffner.com and Pure Home Water.