The struggle for water in rural Mozambique

In Niassa province, water is a matter of life and death. More than half the population in this northern Mozambique region has no clean water supply and just 21 per cent have access to safe sanitation. For many families, their only source of water is stagnant, filthy rivers, which dry up during the hotter months. The result is an endless cycle of long, exhausting journeys to collect water unfit for drinking.

In November last year, Mário Macilau, a former Maputo street child who is now an award-winning photographer, began a three-year project to document the impact of WaterAid’s efforts to provide clean water and sanitation to the rural community of M’mele. These images show the starting point. “I never imagined that there were people in my country who are struggling to such an extent for water,” says Macilau. “We all know that water is life, but if you’ve never experienced [lack of it] for yourself, you’ll never realise how hard basic survival can be.”