Drop By Drop Photo Shows the Human Face of the Global Water Crisis

Drop by Drop Photo is a powerful collaboration between award-winning photographers Rudi Dundas and Chris Majors to show the human face of the global water crisis and how clean water transforms lives.

Drop by Drop Photo has been working with Blue Planet Network since 2010 to document member water and sanitation projects in India and Africa and inspire people to see the potential of a world with clean water for all.

Living with Project Well

Rudi and Chris toured villages in West Bengal, India, where Blue Planet Network partners Project Well and Aqua Welfare Society are providing safe drinking water.

Rudi and Chris visited West Bengal, India in 2010 with Blue Planet Network member Project Well and Aqua Welfare Society. In West Bengal, arsenic-tainted waters result from naturally occurring geological formations in the Himalayas. This arsenic poisons the waters of over 13 million people in the region.

While Rudi and Chris witnessed first-hand how arsenic-contaminated water can tragically affect entire villages, they also saw the great work being done by Project Well and Aqua Welfare Society to provide safe alternatives and train the villagers how to keep the water clean. Undoing the culturally ingrained traditions of drinking the cool ground water tainted with the invisible arsenic is challenging. Chris and Rudi’s images serve as a reminder that “it takes a village” to deal with the human, as well as the technical, issues, standing in the way of clean water for all.

Check out the photo gallery of their journey and the stories of the people they met.

Exploring Eastern Africa: Kenya

The Samburu Project has installed over 40 wells in Kenya, serving over 40,000 people, changing lives in ways heretofore unforeseen.

In 2011, Drop by Drop Photo received an Adobe Foundation grant to journey to the Samburu region in northern Kenya later in 2012. Chris and Rudi were invited to accompany founder and director of The Samburu Project, Kristen Kosinski, for her annual trip to this remote region to document her work drilling wells. The Samburu women and children walk over six miles each day just to bring back enough water for their most basic needs. This water typically is not clean and people are continually sick with dysentery and more serious illnesses.

The Samburu Project has installed over 70 wells and related systems, changing the lives of over 70,000 people. One of Rudi’s favorite stories is about a woman who told her that, thanks to the new Samburu Project well in her community, it was the first time she had clean clothes in the dry season. It’s the “little things” that show you how “big” clean water can be.

Drop by Drop Photo captured the hope, the challenges and the power of clean water in the faces of the Samburu people they met. Travel with them and take a look!

Exploring Eastern Africa: Uganda

Five borehole wells were constructed near health clinics in eastern Uganda, providing 6,392 villagers living in these five communities with direct access to clean water.

Drop by Drop Photo’s next journey for water – again with the support of an Adobe Foundation grant – took them in 2013 to Uganda to document the work that Blue Planet Network member, International Lifeline Fund (ILF), is doing to bring both clean water and fuel-efficient stoves to rural communities there. After unsafe drinking water, smokey cookstoves are the greatest source of disease and death in the region, especially for women who cook over them for hours at a time. Many of the Ugandan forests also have disappeared as trees are cut down for fuel.

ILF’s work in Uganda has brought health and the luxury of time for over 270,000 people since 2006 to find new ways to improve their lives. Plans also include training community members on the sale and service of the fuel-efficient cookstoves and maintenance of the wells, creating new jobs as well as clean water and a more stable environment.

Rudi and Chris captured “change in the making” as they traveled to many villages to interview people. Their excitement at the "possible" of what clean water and fuel-efficient stoves can bring is evident in their photos of the project...be part of it!

Rudi Dundas

Rudi Dundas is a fine art photographer focused on social change and environmental issues. She has photographed in Africa, South America, Asia, Europe and at home in California. Rudi’s social documentary images highlight issues of global concern and provide solutions for a better world.

Rudi dancing with Samburu women in celebration of the life-giving force of water.

In 2014, Rudi embarked on a solo mission to both Ethiopia and Kenya to benefit Blue Planet Network members. In Ethiopia, she visited Project Concern International in the Yirga Alem area. There she focused on Bera Tedicho in Sidama zone of Southern Ethiopia as well as Omo River Valley.

Rudi is hoping to make return visits in December 2015 to the Samburu area and to Sabore’s Well to capture how two new wells have brought health, hope and work to a widow’s village and neighboring Masai clans in the Mara region of southwestern Kenya.

Her travels for water have culminated in many photographic exhibitions, including one at the San Francisco World Affairs Council in April 2015. Rudi was nominated in 2014 for a LUCIE award for International Photographer of the Year, a testimony to how her work has moved so many.

Chris Majors

Chris with children from the Samburu Region of Kenya.

Chris Majors grew up in South Carolina, and always has found himself intrigued by the beauty of this world and the interesting stories people would tell. Photography developed as a natural way to share these interests and Chris attended the San Francisco Art Institute to develop his passion. Chris often finds his base wherever his photographic subject might be. Finding diversity harmonious, Chris’s work ranges from small non-profits to large corporations.

Chris’ own words about the importance of water in his world view:

"The first time I began to understand the importance and impact of water and sanitation projects was when I first met with Lisa Nash, Executive Director of Blue Planet Network. An hour with her quickly changed my perspective. It was then that Rudi and I decided to help use our photography skills. Being a photographer and a storyteller, it was easy to decide that using those tools was how I could best help at that point.

Lisa put us in contact with Dr. Meera Smith at Project Well and soon there after, we traveled to India and got our first real education. To be at the village level and meet the people that benefit from these projects is an amazing experience. To see the change in front of you was more powerful than words. This experience drove me to take the very best photos I could, so that we could truly tell the story of everyone involved. We wanted to share as much as we could about our experience, so that we could help inspire others to help bring life and health to so many people."

Chris currently is based in Portland, OR, discovering stories to tell there.

A Special Thank You

Chris and Rudi’s amazing photojournalism keeps giving back to Blue Planet Network as their photo essays are shown at galleries across the country and at on-going fundraisers. Blue Planet Network is forever grateful to Rudi and Chris, and to the other talented, generous photographers who help us put a “human face” on the global water crisis and show how every individual can do something to help.