Towards informing policy making through photographs: Island women use photo voice to improve social determinants of child health in Indian Sundarbans

This Photovoice study unlocks mothers’ voices on social determinants of child health to inform community level policy makers in Indian Sundarbans. Children’s access to public health facilities in the region is a challenge, due to inaccessible geography and recent increases in intensity and periodicity of climatic shocks, such as flooding and cyclones. The situation creates a difficult health situation for all – especially children – in the Sundarbans which need collective ground level accord between the health community and local level health and non-health policy makers.


Over 80 women participants belonging to different age, caste and religions with at least one child between 0-6 years of age took 467 photographs to document issues affecting the health of their children. In the fortnightly group meetings, participants identified general social factors impacting children’s health and selected five issues to be presented: – malnutrition, livelihood, Water and Sanitation Hygiene, accessibility and breaching of embankments. The women participants perceived their active engagement in the photo voice project as an empowering experience where they have transformed their traditional role of receiver into a community spokesperson demanding sustainable action for their community issues.

Submitted by:
Shibaji Bose

The Crab Catcher

Due to large scale migration the women islanders of Sundarbans have to go in search of risky livelihoods like crab catching to feed the children. A lot of them fall prey to the tigers or crocodiles. At the same time the children are left with the neighbours affecting their childcare.

Photographer: Shibaji Bose

The silent killers of Sundarbans

This is a common sight in some of the remote islands of Sundarbans during high tides. The sudden influx by breaching the embankment often breaks down the health care system with parts of the island being marooned

Photographer: Shibaji Bose

Balancing responsibilities

The lady’s daily job during high flood has to precariously balance her child whom she take to the pre-primary school (which gives free midday meal) and to bring fresh drinking water from the school premises

Photographer: Shibaji Bose

Temporary shelter for a family of five

With certain parts of the island remaining submerged for close to half a year sometimes the temporary shelters become the ‘permanent’ homes to the islanders whose house gets washed away by monsoon floods and high tides

Photographer: Shibaji Bose

2015 floods, Mousuni island, Indian Sundarbans: shelter-less, food scarcity and a hapless mother

A woman in Mousuni island of Indian Sundarbans wading out of her half-submerged house in search of food for her two children. For weeks most parts of the island remained submerged. After the water receded there was a health system scare with hundreds of children suffering from diarrhoea and enteric diseases.

Photographer: Shibaji Bose