On 24 July 2014 the Center for Social Research and Development (CSRD) organized the exhibition “Rivers through the lens of people” at Tu Tuong Park (Hue city). This is an activity within the project “Promoting participatory approach for approval process of hydropower plants in Quang Binh and Quang Nam Province ” supported by Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung.
Participants were the representatives from the Sub-Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Natural Resources and Environment of Thua Thien Hue province, representatives of “Vietnam Rivers Network”, media agencies, representatives of the communities involved in the project and visitors.
Lam Thi Thu Suu – Director of CSRD – said at the opening ceremony, “The Contest “Rivers through the lens of people” aims to raise the awareness of communities and appeals to the people to protect the well-being of the rivers in Central Vietnam and in the and Highlands from the environmental degradation caused by human activities and climate change. The photos were taken by the communities living along the rivers with different angles and perspectives”.
One month after being launched, the exhibition contest had received nearly 90 photos from 9 communities in Thua Thien Hue, Quang Binh and Quang Nam provinces, who are “amateur” photographers. The photos represented truly the beautiful scenery of the rivers and streams where people live, the pollution of water resources, watershed forest fires, and indiscriminate sand mining causing flash floods.
Following the opening ceremony, it was the time for the judges and participants to visit the exhibition and listen to presentations from the teams, also the thoughts and aspirations of the communities who are under impacts of climate change in general and hydropower dams in particular. The photo “Thinking” captured by people of Hong Thuong commune, A Luoi district (Thua Thien – Hue) won the first prize. Second prizes were awarded to the works “Unemployment in water transportation” of Dai Hong commune (Dai Loc district, Quang Nam province) and “The upland woman” of Lam Thuy commune (Le Thuy district, Quang Binh province).
At the end of the exhibition a networking meeting took place among participating communities to share their knowledge and experiences in photographing and how to raise awareness on climate change in their community. The participants also discussed to draw out what they could do to contribute to the project in the near future.
Nguyen Huu Quyet – Deputy Director, Department of Natural Resources and Environment of Thua Thien Hue affirmed that the Exhibition had made up a general picture of the life of riparian communities, particularly expressed their concerns and warnings of the degradation of water, the impacts of the construction of hydroelectric projects and mining operations, the utilization of resources in Quang Binh, Thua Thien Hue and Quang Nam. The photographers were not professional but able to take photos consistent with the theme “Rivers through the lens of people”.
The exhibition was held for the first time, in which participating communities were empowered with tools and capacity of using cameras to capture the environmental impacts to the rivers, though still rudimentary, but true. These meaningful activities have contributed to the awareness raising and the protection of the well-being of the rivers in Central Vietnam and in the Highlands from the environmental degradation caused by human activities and climate change.