Disappearing Sands

Photographs by Veronique de Viguerie

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In the Santiago island of Cap Verde, survival is a daily task for the population. There aren’t many incomes in this little piece of land. The island was a common stop for the slave ships from Africa to the United States. Its population is a real African melting pot.

Very catholic, people do not used contraception. Women often have 10 or 13 kids to care for and most of the time with different fathers. These women have to work to feed their children and sometimes grandchildren. Because of the demographic boom, construction works are going on everywhere. Sand is needed. Women have started selling their beach sand to building companies. Taking a lot of risks, they go deep into the sea facing up big waves. A bucket filled with heavy wet sand, on the top of their head, they have to walk  under-water back to the beach.

Sand is the second most used resource on earth, after water and it’s disappearing. So now it’s protected. So these women have to steal the sand they are selling. They are facing the possibility of being severely punished and arrested if caught by the police. They have no mercy for sand thieves who are destroying the only island income: tourism. Most of the beaches have no sand anymore… And in the sand, the fishes lay their eggs and the tourists lay down… Without sand, no fish and no tourist.