Thursday, May 03, 2007

Painting Post: Headload Worker from India

Title: 'Coolie'

Size: 3 feet wide X 4 feet high

Medium: Oil on canvas

I completed this over the last three weeks...

Some context:
Headloading is a form of transport of goods and services that primarily involve a human being as the load bearer. The good or service to be transported is bundled and carried over the person’s head and is balanced by the individual while walking from one point to the other.
The weight of a typical head load carried by men and women around parts of India, Ghana and Lesotho is about 30 kilos. The average distance walked by some of these individuals is around 20 kilometers. Materials carried by the men and women range from water (primarily by women), bricks (men at construction sites) and vegetables (sold by men and women).

A short excerpt from a research article is useful (link posted below):

'The most striking feature that emerged from the research is the extraordinary amount of time and energy that the women expend to collect and transport water from the source to the home. Secondly, the primary means of transporting water is headloading. In addition, many villages continually face an acute shortage of potable water. Lack of access to safe drinking water, the effects of headloading on women's health, lack of access to adequate transport facilities and the burden of women's household responsibilities all have a detrimental effect on women's income earning abilities. The general welfare of the family suffers as a result'

Headloading is a particular issue for transporting water and other resources. The consequences of this are:
• It limits the amount of water women can transport at one time
• They are forced to make several daily trips to the water source
• They lose valuable time and energy in collecting water
• Household duties and children are neglected
• Women suffer chronic backache, foot pains and fatigue
• Skin and other types of diseases caused by lack of sanitation
• Young girls growth and development stunted

It should also be remembered that when the water levels are low, women spend much time and energy pulling the water up from the well. They may also have to wait in a queue at a standpost. The women expressed that they would like pipelines carrying water to their homes...


Links:

EVERYBODY LOVES A GOOD DROUGHT: Stories from India's Poorest Districts. By P. Sainath. New Delhi: Penguin Books. 1996. xiii, 470 pp. (B&W photos. ) Rs. 295, paper. ISBN 0-14-025984-8.

Travels with Sainath, Being an Indian Diary, First of Three Parts: Why Indian Farmers Kill Themselves; Why Lange's Photographs are Phony. By ALEXANDER COCKBURN

Wikipedia article on Palagummi Sainath

Non-Motorised Transport and its socio-economic impact on poor households in Africa Cost-benefit analysis of bicycle ownership in Uganda

India: Women, water, and transport in arid areas (IFRTD)

4 comments:

Tree said...

I like this painting, you're very skilled. I sense the areas of red on his head and neck are where he feels the most pressure/discomfort from the load he would carry.

jafabrit said...

I think your choice of colours are great for this one, it's really nice.

Sunil said...

Tree,
Thank you for your comments. I especially enjoyed your piece on roadkill/MFA that you posted last week. Fits in well with my convictions about art of today...

Sunil said...

Jafabrit,
Thank you!