The Waterless Village

Kumik, the Himalayan village in the Zanskar Valley on the forefront of climate change

As the legend goes, the fairy spirit called the Zbalu offered with the villagers of Kumik two choices centuries ago - a wall around the village to protect their livestock from wolves or unlimited water. Kumik chose the wall. After all, why wish for water when there was a glacier right behind their village.

 

Centuries later, Kumik's glacier no longer exists and the village is in a state of perpetual drought - reliant on a handful of underground springs that don't provide enough water. Crop harvests, livestock, and incomes are all affected, pushing Kumik towards the very idea of relocating to another area. Some villagers have already settled in "Lower Kumik", as it's known, to be closer to the water of the Zanskar River.  

 

However, renewed hope was short-lived. After spending thousands of collective dollars constructing a new canal to bring water up from the river, destruction came. A glacial lake outburst upstream caused a  flood that washed away Lower Kumik's canal without warning. 

 

Unable to afford to put down more money for a canal, only a handful of homes relocated. Both Kumik and Lower Kumik are water stricken - the villagers have little choice but to face an uncertain future. 

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About

Ashley Crowther is an Asia based documentary photographer and photojournalist and is one of the foremost storytellers documenting climate change through photography.

 

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