The Seaweed Collector, Zanzibar, 2019
In vibrant Swahili dress, the women of Jambiani, Zanzibar, wade into the crystal tidal shores under a fierce sun to begin collecting seaweed. It looks like a traditional trade, the skill and beauty of their work, but the harvesting of seaweed was actually introduced to the island in the 1980s from the Philippines to promote sustainable resource management. Although the pay for these women is minimal, it provides employment and empowerment for many women who can earn their own income. The seaweed grows along lines of suspended string in the shallow water where the women follow the movement of the tides to collect it. Due to climate change, the growth rate of seaweed has slowed. Much of the seaweed is dying due to rising temperatures and a bacteria that is beginning to grow on it due to increased water temperatures. This threat could be solved by planting in deeper waters, but most of the women cannot swim. Along the horizon, fisherman in traditional Dhow boats can be seen moving under an intensely blue sky.
Water colour and pen on canvas.