Photographer Mustafa Abdulaziz has dedicated the past four years of his life to one thing: taking pictures that tell stories about water.
From the barren riverbeds of India to the polluted rivers of São Paulo, Brazil, Abdulaziz has photographed in nine countries, seeking to document the global water woes: According to the World Health Organization, nearly 2 billion people “use a drinking water source contaminated with feces” and by 2025, half of the world’s population will face shortages in their water supply.
“I knew I wanted to dedicate myself to a long-term project, so I started researching global crisis and issues,” he said. “During my research I kept coming across water issues over and over again. So I began to look more into that.”
He was surprised to see how many people are oblivious to the problem.
“People tell me they don’t even realize that water issues exist,” says Abdulaziz. “That itself is a huge issue, and something that made me have water as a subject.”
Since he began working on the “Water Stories” project, Abdulaziz has seen how rudimentary solutions can have a major impact.
“A simple water pump allows people to feel invested in themselves and the health of their own community,” he says. It provides jobs for people to watch it, fix it, and even form committee boards around the pump.”
Abdulaziz plans to continue the project for another 11 years. “It’s a big topic and deserves a lot of time and attention,” he says. “It should be able to grow organically, have points of failure and success and look at this massive topic in as many ways as possible.”
This week, photographs from five of the countries he’s visited went on display at New York City’s Photoville festival. His images will be shown in light boxes alongside another body of water that he’s photographed — New York’s East River.