From Afghan Dust to the Meandering Mekong

Adam Ferguson—VII Network
Adam Ferguson—VII Network
An afternoon storm approaches a fish farm on the Mekong River in Vientiane, Laos People’s Democratic Republic on May 12, 2011.

After spending the majority of the last three years in Afghanistan, I reached a point where I felt the coarse Afghan dust was corroding the curiosity of my eyes. I needed to wander again.

I found myself in Vientiane, Laos, on the bank of the meandering Mekong River—a river experiencing significant change that threatens its existence. The government of Laos is proposing several hydroelectric dam projects that would affect the flow of the Mekong and the fish species that traverse it. China has already built hydroelectric dams on the river—an action that’s impact has yet to be assessed. Global warming, already affecting many regions of the world, slowly melts the glaciers that feed the Mekong at it’s source, posing an additional threat to the Basin. Fish stocks are depleted and Chinese influence is increasingly exerted amongst the progressive cries of development and globalization. An entire way of life is at stake for the millions of people relying directly and indirectly on the river.

It’s unknown what economic and environmental consequences these changes will ultimately have on the river and the social landscape that surrounds it. No matter the course, change will be dramatic in the Lower Mekong River Basin.

With this, I made the decision to document the region at this critical time of transition. As a photographer, I’ve struggled to match the river’s deliberate pace. Covering Afghanistan has been hard, fast and without rhythm—it’s left me impatient and reliant on schedules, routines, and permission. Along the Mekong, I feel free.

Adam Ferguson is a frequent contributor to TIME. Represented by VII Network, Ferguson has covered conflict for several years, primarily in Afghanistan.

Previously, Ferguson’s Witness to a Civilian Casualty was featured on LightBox.

Related Topics: , , ,

Latest Posts

The Ebola Crisis, Gulu, Uganda, 2000

Picturing Ebola: Photographers Chase an Invisible Killer

With already more than 670 victims, Western Africa is battling its most serious Ebola outbreak in four decades. TIME LightBox speaks to photographers Samuel Aranda and Jodi Bieber about the challenges involved with covering such a deadly story

Read More
HONDURAS - IMMIGRATION

Immigration Crisis: Photographing the Violence Behind the Honduras Exodus

DC 050.52 001 elephant relocation # I, ol pejeta conservancy, no

Save the Animals: David Chancellor’s Powerful Photographs of Conservation Efforts