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The Intha People

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Inle_Lake_ING4119.jpg
Inle lake, Myanmar's second largest freshwater lake, is the source of life for about 700,000 people who live on and around its waters -- primarily members of the Intha minority. <br />
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The Intha are a fascinating people, primarily farmers and fishermen. Most are devout Buddhists, and live in simple houses of wood and woven bamboo on stilts.<br />
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Because of its unusual shallowness, the surface of Inle Lake is covered in a thick carpet of reeds and floating plants, making it difficult to navigate a boat while remaining seated. In response, Intha fishermen have developed a unique rowing style that requires standing on one leg, while simultaneously wrapping their free leg around a single oar and then using it to steer and row. <br />
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In these images, I aspire to show characteristic expressions of the Intha way of life, along side the challenges which threaten it -- like the effects of increasing lake pollution due to the use of chemical fertilizers. <br />
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The water from the lake is essential to the people for drinking, cleaning, traveling, farming and fishing. <br />
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Recently, however, massive use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides imported from China and Thailand, along with poor sanitation, a growing population, and a surge in tourism has severely polluted the once drinkable lake waters. <br />
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Local officials and NGOs are pushing useage of organic fertilisers to turn the situation around, but nonetheless tests show that the water is polluted to what the UNDP calls a "critical” level. <br />
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Additionally, the lake's water level has steadily been decreasing, causing local fishermen and farmers to worry about their livelihoods.