Lia Valero

Photographer
   
Samaná: the last free river
Biography: Lia Valero is an award-winning Colombian reporter and photographer. As part of her professional experience, Lia has documented different issues of human rights, gender, memory and conflict and environment  in Bogotá and various regions... MORE
Public Story
Samaná: the last free river
Copyright Lia Valero 2023
Updated Oct 2022
Topics Climate Change, Energy, Environment, Journalism, Photography
Summary
In a country where armed conflict has been associated with exploitation of land and natural resources, speaking of "free rivers" is almost synonymous of resistance. Colombia uses its rivers to generate almost 70% of the country's energy. The biggest resource being produced in the Antioquia region. Six reservoirs and five hydroelectric plants have been built there, dividing almost all its rivers into two: what remains before and after a wall. Of the main rivers in that region, only one has not yet been intervened: the North Samaná River. But its future, wealth and biodiversity are at risk.
Colombia is the second most biodiverse country on the planet. However, it is one of the most dangerous to protect nature. War in times of Climate Crisis happens when natural resources are at risk for higher demands of consumption. Speaking of "free rivers" is almost synonymous of resistance.

The country uses its rivers to generate almost 70% of the energy and the majority is being produced in the Antioquia region, where historically conflict has been linked to the presence of hydroelectric power plants. Since the pandemic in 2020, electricity exportation increased 40 times, changing the dynamic of nature and the communities around. Of the main rivers in that region, only one has not yet been intervened,  thanks to the resistance of its inhabitants: the North Samaná River. But its future, wealth and biodiversity are at risk.
 
"Samaná: the last free river" is a project developed in Puerto Garza, Antioquia. This time, just as water is the protagonist, so are the women of this rural area, who rarely have spaces in the narrative around conservation and environmental issues. They are the ones who tell what a river “free” of hydroelectric plants represent for a community.

These images are the continuation of a collective project from the grant #Chagra: Alliance of community and independent visual storytellers, supported by Baudo AP, in Colombia. To see the full website please visit: https://chagra.co/cuerpos-de-agua/
Colombia es el segundo país más biodiverso del planeta. Sin embargo, es uno de los más peligrosos para proteger la naturaleza. La guerra en tiempos de Crisis Climática ocurre cuando los recursos naturales están en riesgo por mayores demandas de consumo. Y hablar de “ríos libres” es casi sinónimo de resistencia.

El país utiliza sus ríos para generar casi el 70% de la energía y la mayoría se está produciendo en la región de Antioquia, donde históricamente el conflicto ha estado ligado a la presencia de centrales hidroeléctricas. Desde la pandemia en 2020, la exportación de electricidad se multiplicó por 40, cambiando la dinámica de la naturaleza y las comunidades aledañas. De los principales ríos de esa región, solo uno aún no ha sido intervenido, gracias a la resistencia de sus habitantes: el río Samaná Norte. Pero su futuro, riqueza y biodiversidad están en riesgo.
 
“Samaná: el último río libre” es un proyecto desarrollado en Puerto Garza, Antioquia. Esta vez, así como el agua es protagonista, también lo son las mujeres de esta zona rural, quienes pocas veces tienen espacios en la narrativa en torno a temas conservacionistas y ambientales. Ellos son los que cuentan lo que representa para una comunidad un río “libre” de hidroeléctricas.

Estas imágenes son la continuación de un proyecto colectivo de la beca #Chagra: Alianza de narradores visuales comunitarios e independientes, apoyado por Baudo AP, en Colombia. Para ver el sitio web completo, visite:  https://chagra.co/cuerpos-de-agua/

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