The Prix Pictet Commission is an invitation from the Partners of the Pictet Group to one of the nominated photographers to undertake a field trip to a region where the Bank are supporting a sustainability project run by a charity or other NGO.
The Earth commission supported the work of Azafady, a UK charity and Malagasy-registered NGO that helps the poorest communities in Madagascar develop sustainable ways of living and increase local access to healthcare and education.
American photographer Ed Kashi was invited to undertake this commission.
Pictet made a specific commitment to Azafady’s Voly Hazo project, which aims, through tree planting and preservation of the natural forest, both to preserve the soil from degradation and to halt the progress of desertification.
Madagascar is classified as one of the world’s top three ‘hotspots’ for biodiversity, yet it is also one of the poorest and most environmentally challenged countries in the world. Through Kashi’s pictures, we see the compromised beauty of this threatened island which has been described by Alanna Mitchell, author of a book tracking the world’s environmental hotspots as follows:
“The island should be thickly covered with trees. But instead of the living green of vegetation, the land is pitilessly scoured. … This is not from commercial logging. The trees fall at the hands of poverty-stricken Malagasy, who need to feed their children. It’s one of the most massive modern ecological disasters yet catalogued, and it has unfolded mostly over the past thirty years.”
(Alanna Mitchell, Dancing at the Dead Sea: Tracking the World’s Environmental Hotspots).
Kashi, who travelled to Madagascar in January 2010, says “this Commission for the Prix Pictet is in direct response to the global cry to stop and take responsibility, seen through the dignified and vibrant people of south-east Madagascar, in a cross-examination of the intricate ties that bind them to the earth.’
A catalogue accompanies the series.