when the waters raphael alves
For everyone who supported this project. Especially dedicated to my mother and my beloved Wiulla, who taught me to be strong
when the waters raphael alves
The project “When the waters” is a photographic project aimed at addressing the relation of human beings with the waters in Amazonia, especially in Manaus (the largest and most populous city in the Amazon region) and in its surrounding towns and villages. The photographs within this book format project explore various aspects of water in the daily routine of the inhabitants of this region mentioned above: the water as a natural way to the means of transportation; as a source of sustenance for families who live in riparian areas and also in the big city; as a recreational that can be found in several areas and situations; as well as a rejected common good, which is usually target of dejections and all sorts of garbage. All those issues addressed within the context of the eternal dichotomy between drought and flood, which maintains the continuity of life in the waters and which historically the Amazonian man had to adapt to. Moreover, “When the Waters” proposes a debate on a capital and a metropolitan area that is allegedly dying in terms of organization. It also reflects on the apparent impacts related to changing climate worldwide that have direct effect on events related to the water cycle in this region: droughts and floods becoming more extreme and constant.
Manaus Manaus (and its neighboring towns) was chosen for this project not only for being the city where the photographer was born and still resides. The capital of the state of Amazonas is the main financial, corporate and economic center in northern region of Brazil. It is also a historical city with a remarkable harbor area, located in the middle of the largest rainforest in the world, at the confluence of rivers Negro and SolimĂľes, that lead to the mighty Amazon River, after they both meet for almost six kilometers . Manaus is becoming increasingly one of the best-known Brazilian cities worldwide, mainly for its tourism potential (ecotourism), fact that has already made the city already the tourist most searched destination in Brazil. Geographically, Manaus belongs to the middle region of the Amazonian Center (and also the homonymous micro region). It is located in the extreme north, 3490 km away from the national capital, BrasĂlia. It is the most populous city in the state of Amazonas and in the whole Amazon region, with a population of 1,861,838 inhabitants , and it is the seventh most populous city in Brazil and the 131st most populous city in the world. The city gradually increased its share of GDP (Gross domestic product) Brazil in recent years, rising to account for 1.4% of the countryâ€™s economy
Astounding Differences As a parameter to assess the intensity with which the phenomena are occurring, it is necessary to simply highlight that the first time the record of water levels on River Negro during a flood season was broken after 56 years, since the river began to be â€œmeasuredâ€? (on 1902): it reached 29.69 meters on 1953 and 29.71 on 2009, what caused a lot of problems in Manaus, such as the flooding of communities living in riverside areas; the readjustment of traffic, since several streets were flooded; commercial losses, since stores were under water; and the spreading of diseases, since the flood season made the sewer system overflow in the central area of the city. Many people thought that such high levels would take another half of century to happen once more. They were wrong. On 2012, the levels of River Negro achieved 29.97 meters and all those problems of the flood on 2009 have returned potentialized since Manaus has grown in recent years and is now nearing two million inhabitants. On 2013, the flood levels achieved 29.33 meters. Although it has not broken the records set in 2012 and 2009, the flood of 2013 is the eighth most intense ever recorded, which shows a higher frequency of large floods. And for 2014, the year in which Manaus will be one of the hosts of FIFA World Cup, complications are expected again. This year, in the middle the â€œAmazonian
summerâ€?(ie, the season in which short rains are expected) rain levels are above average: in July, it was expected of 32mm to 92mm, but it rained approximately 126.2 mm . In the whole month of September, in which a maximum of 75mm of rain was expected, only in the second week it had already rained around 114mm, almost 40% more than the expectations . A brief comparison with the last two years shows the difference in the month of September, which is already considered to be considered a rainy month (which is atypical) in 2013. in 2012, the month of September recorded a pluviometric index of 90.5 mm. In 2011, the numbers are even lower: 14.3 mm of rainfall. As expected, the high pluviometric indexes have direct impact on the Amazonian water cycle and hinder the descent of the rivers, characteristic of this time of year. The variation of water on the Rio Negro, which runs across most of the edge of Manaus, can be taken as an example of that. If in 2011, the waters came down from 16 to 22cm per day, in 2012, the variation in the descent has been established between only 4 and 11cm daily. (to be continued...)
With the dry seasons, the same has been happening. In River Negro, the record drought of 1964 (when the waters went down to 13.64 meters) was surpassed only in 2010 (by one centimeter, when the waters went down to 13.63 meters). But the drought that struck the Amazon in 2010 did not only happen in River Negro. Actually, that was the most severe in 100 years, according to a study published in the journal ‘Science’ by researchers from IPAM (institute of environmental research in Amazonia) and the University of Leeds. In 2005 a major drought had already reached the region and was considered at that time the largest in a century. “The occurrence of two events of this magnitude in such a close range is extremely unusual, but is unfortunately consistent with those climate models that project a difficult future for the Amazon”, said the head of studies, Simon Lewis, University of Leeds, Britain. “If events like this happen more often, the Amazon rainforest may get to the point of reversing its valuable condition of absorbing carbon and helping to fight climate change, to becoming a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, with potential to accelerate the global heating”, completed him. In 2012 the drought was also intense. The rivers dropped to 15.96 meters, but the environmental, social and economic damages were not as noticed as in 2005 and 2010. There is no denying that water pollution, deforestation, fires and toxic gas emissions in
major cities have direct influence those changes in the Amazonian water cycle. In an interview published on September 22nd, 2013, for ‘A Crítica’ newspaper the chief of the weather forecasting section at INMET, Verissimo Farias, says that the changes in the water cycle are directly linked to the changes that the big city is suffering. “The two main phenomena that could influence our weather are the ‘La Niña’ (which causes the cooling of the Pacific Ocean waters) and ‘El Niño’ (which provides the heating of ocean waters). However, they both do not present themselves strongly enough to influence in our city “, says him. Antonio Donato Nobre, a scientist working for INPE (National Institute for Space Research), who lives and works for 20 years in the Amazon rainforest, said that the forest has a limit, in an interview for the magazine ‘Veja (2011). “I trust the mechanisms of self-regulation of the forest, but I don’t disagree with the researchers on the importance of the discovery (the link between the changes in the city and in the cycle of waters). Like the human body, ecosystems have limits - and the Amazon rainforest’s are getting closer”.
“The everyday death is the death of Water. Water always flows, always falls down, always ends up with its horizontal death” Gaston Bachelard
â€œ[...]this water ran and ran, incessantly it ran, and was nevertheless always there, was always and at all times the same and yet new in every moment!â€? Herman Hesse
A resident of rural walks around the Solimões River. During strong droughts, some parts of the powerful and copious river becomes a handful of calm shallow puddles
Front view of Manaus. A city with almost two million inhabitants which seems to have turned its backs to the river although it depends so much on it on various aspects
Scientists are still evaluating the possibility of establishing a direct relation between global warming, caused by the emission of gases in the atmospher, and extreme climatic events. However, evidences have
been accumulated, such as floods and droughts that have occurred more frequently in the Amazon
A woman tries to balance on planks to get to her house. The writings on the wall say “Save me, oh God, by thy power”
4. Even though Manaus is located on the banks of River Negro (the second largest river in volume of water of the world), the problem of water shortage affects more than 80 thousand homes in Manaus, Every day, it
is traditional to see people carrying water from alternative sources to their houses
Victor Hugo, 9 years old, sits in a canoe on the stream of São Jorge. Canoes and small boats are part of the daily life of communities living along the riverbanks in Manaus
Makeshift house on a raft anchored in the south of Manaus
Boy sits on the banks of the Igarapé do Educandos, one of the main watercourses in Manaus, which is totally polluted
The huge amount of garbage thrown in the beds of streams of Manaus surfaced during th flood of the Amazon rivers. In Igarapé do 40, one of the most famous rivers in Manaus, hundreds of families were
forced to leave their homes to avoid pestilential diseases
Families abandoned their houses in Janauari community, on the shore of river Negro, near the town of Iranduba, metropolitan region of Manaus
A boy stares at the water of the flooding in front of his house in Frei José dos Inocentes Street, in the city center of Manaus. Most of the houses in this street - one of the oldest in town - were abandoned by
families that could not manage to save their belongings
“Every year we have to leave our house for two or three months. We’re already used to this situation” said Shalom Silva (standing), a resident of Gloria, in the West Zone of Manaus. Just like him, hundreds of
families are sheltered by neighbours or relatives during the flood of the Amazon rivers
A child washes his tricycle in the polluted waters of river Negro, on the edge of Manaus. The flood in the largest Brazilian city of the Amazon region has been often carachterized by garbage and pollution of the
A man sits with his groceries in the parking lot of the market town of Manaus. The entire region known as “Modern Manaus”, an important commercial in the center of the city, was flooded
A street hawker spends time fishing in a flooded area in the city center of Manaus during the flood time in 2012. According to itinerant vendors, the commercial movement loses at least 50% everytime the waters
reach the streets in downtow as happened in 2009 and 2012
A boy looks curious at the photographerâ€™s work in Frei JosĂŠ dos Inocentes Street, one of the oldest and most traditional parts of Manaus. The Amazon rivers achieved 29,97 meters in 2012 - the highest levels of
all time. The problem caused flooding and disorder even in the center of the biggest city in Amazon Forest
The period of flooding brings more problems to the inhabitants of the big city, hampering the traffic and forcing families to leave their homes
A man carrying his baby and a woman share a board, the only passage during the flooding time in a slum area of Sao Raimundo, West Zone of Manaus. In the poorest areas of the big city displacement is even
more difficult, since people need the donation of wooden planks to build pathways
Viewpoint of Manaus on the other side of river Negro, during the flood season...
During the flooding of the rivers, and as the livestock is usually extensive in riverside villages, cattle walk freely in search of pasture. Many animals die attacked by animals such as snakes or piranhas
A family stands in front of their house in Bariri, a slum area in the South Zone of Manaus
Children jump from a building completely covered by waters, during the flood of the rivers in Manacapuru, a town in the metropolitan region of Manaus. The city is located by the banks of River Solimoes, which also
reached record levels in 2012.
In the neighborhood of S達o Jorge, West Zone of Manaus, the windows became the doors of houses. The difficulties to leave their homes disrupted thousands of young people in their studies during the flooding
of the rivers of the Amazon
Men arm a drag net in a flooded area in the town of Iranduba. The flooding of the Amazonian rivers created areas for fishing that are similar to small lakes
24. Submerged vegetation reappears during the ebb
25. Unlike the flood period, when the boats park literally on the doorstep of the houses in riverside areas, during the dry season it is necessary to walk for long distances to reach the boats
26. A boat got stuck among trees after being adrift in an arm the river Negro. When the dry season begins, boat owners need to find a safe place before their boats are washed away until they stop in an isolated
The drought period reveals a frightening landscape in the wetwands of Manaus. On the edge of River Negro, a fridge even came up in the center of Manaus
Vultures are part of the landscape on the edge of the river Negro in the south zone of Manaus. During the drought, the huge amount trash is more evident in this area, a factor that attracts those species of animals
A boy carries a Tucunaré (Cichla ocellaris) he bought in a market to his houseboat (located at the village of Cacau Pirêra on the shore of river Negro), which is isolated due to the drought, . Families living in
riparian areas usually fish for their own consumption, but the dry season forces them to seek alternatives.
Fisherman walks the desertified landscape of the bed of river Solimões. Although the fishing might be facilitated during periods of low tide - since the animals are caught in lower stretches of water - the
displacement to such areas is impaired
A dead Bodó (Liposarcus pardalis) denounces the intensity of the drought of the Amazonian rivers. This species can remain for up to two days alive out of water.
A man tries to collect useful things of what is left of a lake in the town of Iranduba. When waters dry up, many lost objects can be found
A cattle jaw is found on cracked soil during the dry season. The lack of pasture is also cause for the death of cattle
A footprint in the bed of the river Negro during the dry season
The landscape changes completely during the drought, but Manaus can still be seen during this time.
Man carries a bucket of water to his home, in the community of Pesqueiro II. Residents of ravines near rivers get out of water only when the dry season arrives
Woman stands on the bed of river Solimoes, affected by the drought. Residents of riparian areas like that one, during periods of severe drought are forced to walk for miles with bottles or buckets fetching water
During the drought, a big boat gets stranded in the village of Cacau Pirêra. Several boats get isolated in the dry season and they are only retrieved by their owners when the flood period begins.
A girl walks around a puddle of water on the bed of the river Solimões during the dry season, in front of the town of Manacapuru. The river Solimões leads to the Amazon River, by far the largest by waterflow
with an average discharge about 209,000 cubic metres per second
Fisherman collects the outcome of his workday out of his fishing net. In the rainy season, the shoals hide in flooded areas, flooded forests, which makes fishing tougher than during the dry season
A man rests in a hammock in front of river Solimões, in the village of Pesqueiro II. After working in the fields, the rest on the river front is a custom of the inhabitants of riparian areas
While in the big city, the rivers are taken by pollution, in the countryside rivers still mean good water for bathing
Kid looks for fun in rainy day on the river Uatum達
Girl swims in the muddy waters of the Amazon River, the largest by waterflow with an average discharge of about 209,000 metres per second.