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    Wash Exhibition    
   

Water, Santitation & Hygiene in Old Town, Leh 17th June – 17th July, 2011

An exhibition by LAMO

Chemid Dorjey
Sharad Gohil
Sharon Sonam
Tashi Morup
Zahara Bano

Water is undeniably the most important natural resource in the harsh, cold-desert environment of Ladakh. For centuries, people of Ladakh have found means and ways for the optimum utilization of this scarce commodity, ensuring plenty of water for not only themselves but also for their fields and livestock. Over the years, these water practices and consumption patterns have undergone changes.

In the Old Town of Leh, where water is a precious and scarce resource its inhabitants have faced several changes and challenges. This exhibition is an attempt to understand how these transformations around water have impacted the lives of the people living in Old Town, Leh. Through visual material, cultural objects and narrative the exhibition explores the place of water in their lives and how they negotiate the issues surrounding it as a community. It also looks at how the various seasons, particularly the harsh winter, has had an impact on water.

The exhibition began with a timeline dedicated to facts related to water as well as important events in the history of Leh town’s development. The timeline started with the reign of King Senge Namgyal and the establishment of Leh Palace in the 17th century and ended with the 2010 floods in Ladakh. The images featured various issues surrounding water in Old Town from water sources to collection, usage, disposal, drainage and sanitation. It also looked at the condition of the pathways and water pipes, and accumulation of garbage.

An entire section of the exhibition was dedicated to water containers – those used in the past such as clay and copper pots, leather water bags, and army jerry cans. Today plastic is widely used and with a rise in use of plastic containers concern was expressed for their possible long-term serious health hazards.

Rigzin Spalbar, Chief Executive Councillor, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (Leh) was the chief guest at the opening of the exhibition. He spoke about the urgent need to address the problems facing the inhabitants living in Old Town, as well as the need to promote the area as an important historical and heritage precinct. Old town residents present at the opening had a chance to talk about the issues raised in the exhibition with Rigzin Spalbar. It was decided that follow up meetings would happen where issues could be discussed at length and future action for Old Town planned in a formal manner. As a start to understanding the problems faced by residents of Old Town, Rigzin Spalbar asked LAMO to plan a walk through the area for him and administrative heads along with the residents. This was held on 8th July, 2011. For details on the walk click here.

Resource Persons for WASH:
- Abeer Gupta (Communication Design consultant)
- Shalabh Mittal (Water Management consultant)

The WASH exhibition is supported by the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, Mumbai, and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Jammu & Kashmir.

 

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