1 / 6       A sugar cane worker poses for a photograph on the Ingenio San Antonio plantation, in Chichigalpa. Nicaragua on May 2nd, 2014. © Ed Kashi/VII.

2 / 6       A sugar cane worker, 29, poses with his father, 58, in the cane fields of Chichigalpa, Nicaragua. Both men suffer from chronic kidney disease of non-traditional cause (CKDnT). Nicaragua on January 6th, 2013. © Ed Kashi/VII.

3 / 6       A cane worker slices through the burnt stalks of sugar cane in a field in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua. He is covered in ash and soot from the field that was burned the night before. Nicaragua, on May 1st, 2014. © Ed Kashi/VII.
4 / 6       Sandro Iovine during the video interview with Ed Kashi. © Stefania Biamonti/FPmag.
5 / 6       During the visit to the exhibition Under Cane: A Worker's Epidemic by Ed Kashi. © Stefania Biamonti/FPmag.
6 / 6       During the visit to the exhibition Under Cane: A Worker's Epidemic by Ed Kashi. © Stefania Biamonti/FPmag.

The price of fatigue

That the working conditions of many people are extreme, bordering on the intolerable, is common knowledge. And often there is no need to even go very far to discover a chilling reality in which the quality of a man's life, his safety, and his physical and psychological health are worth less than what he produces. For work one can get sick. For work, one knows, one may even die. But if what is striking workers is a dark evil, of causes still undefined, that indifference continues to claim victims among the poorest of the poor, then we are not facing only a serious problem of social injustice, but of public health.
This is the case of the dramatic reality documented by Ed Kashi with his work Under Cane: A Worker's Epidemic, inserted in the Themed Area of: The food that kills and currently exhibited, in Lodi, at the Ex Church of San Cristoforo. The photojournalist of the VII Photos Agency in fact raises the curtain on a true medical emergency which, for decades, are confronted a large percentage of sugar cane growers in Central America. These farmers are affected by what can be defined as a real epidemic, a lethal infection, from origins, which are still uncertain, known as chronic kidney disease non-traditional causes (CKDnT). Most of the victims are concentrated in Nicaragua and in El Salvador, where, according to the Centre for Public Integrity, the deaths caused by CKDnT have now exceeded those made up of HIV, diabetes and leukaemia together. For these workers of the third millennium, life expectancy has stabilised at around 49 years old, but despite that little or nothing has been done, although some scientific evidence demonstrates how the onset of the disease is linked to poor working conditions, and that it would take very little to begin to stem the problem. «In the town of Chichigalpa, also called the Island of the Widows, one in three men (mostly sugar cane workers) suffers from terminal-stage renal failure due to this fatal disease [ ... ] – explains Ed Kashi – Research on the subject of CKDnT indicates that repeated dehydration, severe heat, and environmental toxins might play a huge part in the rising death toll among sugarcane workers [ ... ] With one private sugar mill in El Salvador poised to make history by becoming the site of the first ever CKDnT workplace intervention in Central America, labor conditions have improved due to increased water access, shade and mandatory breaks. However, since this fatal disease is both a global public health crisis and a social injustice, more research and health solutions are essential to continue creating a positive impact in the lives of effected workers, their families, and local communities».
In Ed Kashi’s opinion it is therefore essential that we start talking at length about this problem and to address it seriously at all levels, not just in the health sector. The photographs included in the exhibition therefore aim to raise awareness, to move as much as the individual as the health agencies and governments to find viable solutions in a short time. His images are striking not so much for what they show, but for what they document and subtend, thanks to the captions also. A real investigative journalism, interwoven with data and eyewitness accounts, aiming to inform in the hope of contributing actively in the improvement of the living conditions of these workers. Informing to help change things, this is its purpose as a photojournalist, as he himself says in the video interview that we issued during the opening weekend of the Festival, accessible via the link posted below. [ S. B. ]

- - -

UNDER CANE: A WORKER'S EPIDEMIC
by Ed Kashi
Ex Chiesa di San Cristoforo | 10-11 / 17-18 / 24-25 October 2015
admission fee: 10,00 € (valid for the visit to all other exhibitions)


– – –

[ INTERNAL RESOURCES ]

[ video ] Kashi: between journalism and activism
FFE2015 on FPmag

[ EXTERNAL RESOURCES ]
Food that kills
Ed Kashi
VII Photo Agency
Festival of Ethical Photography
Fujifilm Italia

published on 2015-10-16 in NEWS / EXHIBITIONS

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