The work of the We Are Water Foundation, promoting aid projects that provide access to water, sanitation and educationaround the world, has benefitted more than 550,000 people in the last 10 years. There, in the most disadvantaged areas of the planet, these projects have revealed “the hidden life of water”: food, hygiene, healthiness, empowerment and dignity.

The images, taken by Carlos Garriga, Project Manager of the Foundation, have borne witness to much of this vital energy provided simply by the access to water and sanitation: happiness, gratitude and fulfillment. Each one of the images also carries an implicit denunciation: before the access to water, the privacy of latrines, toilets, ancestral knowledge, lack of contamination… what was there? 

The reality shown by the photographs also has a reverse side: by revealing the benefits of the access to water, the images also reveal what did not exist before, but still exists: millions of people need to defecate in the open and an increasing number of farmers see their crops and livestock threatened by drought or floods year after year; millions of women suffer harassment and attacks because they do not have access to safe latrines and millions also need to walk for miles to fetch water for their families. The reverse side is also that of children who get diarrhea due to the water they drink and who cannot have minimal sanitation in their schools.

A selection of these photographs make up the exhibition The Hidden Life of Water organized by the We Are Water Foundation at the Roca Lisboa Gallery, which opened on the 22nd January and will be open to the public until the 11th May. In the words of Carlos Garriga, in the exhibition “we can see photographs of very different places among them, but very similar in terms of the problem of access to water and sanitation.” These are photographs that should raise our awareness and prompt our action, as the hidden life of water still needs to reach many.