By The Mekong Eye
Dawei, Myanmar, February 7, 2016
Dawei is a seaside community of less than 5,000 families, in one of the world’s least developed corners. Myanmar’s ever widening borders, however, have lured investments here on a scale beyond anything previously conceived within Southeast Asia.
The Dawei Special Economic Zone envisions nearly 200 square kilometers of industrial development, a deepsea port and associated road, rail and pipeline links to neighboring Thailand and beyond.
Photojournalist Taylor Weidman captures the faces of Dawei as they they contemplate what lies ahead. Will their fisheries and betel nut farms still provide viable livelihoods? Will new jobs be available to them and their children or be taken by more higher skilled prospects from outside? Will environmental controls be sufficient and sufficiently enforcement to protect the community, and the natural resources that now sustain it?
Not knowing what’s headed their way, much less able to comprehend the scale of transformation upon them, Weidman’s images capture a people awaiting the future with both excitement and apprehension of what’s to come.
Taylor Weidman lives in Northern Thailand. In August 2015 he traveled to Dawei with support from the Mekong Partnership for the Environment. As a regular assignment photographer for Getty Images, his work has appeared worldwide, including The New York Times, TIME, National Geographic and others.
Fisherman dries his nets in Bawar Village, near the Dawei SEZ.
Women prepare to leave a market in Nabule, a village inside the boundaries of the planned Dawei SEZ in Nabule.
Peering out their classroom window, it’s yet uncertain how well the this generation will be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities promised by the Dawei SEZ
Water buffalo graze in a field inside the planned Dawei SEZ. A site not uncommon in neighboring Thailand not long ago, but now tractors have largely replaced these beast of burden.
Fisherman displaced by construction at the Dawei SEZ in Nabule never occupied this resettlement village, preferring to seek out locations more suitable for continuing their livelihoods and lifestyles.
A woman rides her motorbike past KM 0, marking the beginning of the new road from the Dawei SEZ in Nabule 160 kilometers to the Thai border.
The coal-burning electricity plant built to power the Dawei SEZ construction effort.
Crab is a major source of income for fisherman in Maungmagan, near the vicinity of the deep sea port planned for the Dawei SEZ
A monk stands in front of a monastery near the planned Dawei SEZ in Pantininn.
Bags and boxes of cashew nuts, a renowned crop from local farmers, sit atop a counter at a market inside the planned Dawei SEZ in Nabule.
Men play pool in a hall near the planned Dawei SEZ in Maungmagan.
A woman rests with her son in a seafood sorting area near the planned Dawei SEZ in Maungmagan.
Removing fish from nets near the Dawei SEZ in Maungmagan, Burma.
Idle machinery sits inside a rock quarry used for the construction of the planned Dawei SEZ in Nabule.
Cutting a boy’s hair in a fishing village near the Dawei SEZ.
Repairing equipment at the construction site of the interim port facility for the Dawei SEZ in Ngapitat.
These images were produced by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images in collaboration with The Mekong Eye and Mekong Matters Journalism Network, with full editorial control to the journalist and their outlet. All images are owned by and available for purchase from Getty Images