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Eric Gourlan

BIOGRAPHY | SERIES | PORTFOLIO | PHOTOSTORIES

Aral Sea

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PEOPLE IN SEARCH OF WATER

        The lives of people around the Aral Sea have declined over the years. Many inhabitants who lived at the shores of the Aral have already migrated to other regions in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan or elsewhere, but some also stayed behind. The villagers who live around the water are in a particularly challenging situation, because they were used to the Sea as the provider of all the essentials in the past, today they have to adapt to a continuously changing situation.
        Over the last thirty-five years irrigation has increased considerably and consequently the Seas surface area has declined significantly 27,000 square kilometers of former sea bottom became dry surface and about 60% of water volume was lost. As a result the former fourth-largest lake of the world is now only at place eight in the ranking.
        The photos were all taken in Kazakhstan in different villages where I lived with families during the summer of 2001. They on the one hand show the apparent challenges in the lives of people. In particular the fishermen have been affected from the shrinking of the Sea. Today they have transformed into shepherds, guarding camels, horses, sheep and sometimes cows. On the other hand the pictures also reveal the joy and kindness of the people, the creativity of their dealing with an entirely changed situation.

Eric Gourlan