Joana Choumali | Sissi Barra (Smoke Work)

Country of origin: Ivory Coast
Project location: Ivory Coast
Program: Magnum Foundation Fund
Year: 2016

San Pedro is a city in Ivory Coast, located in the southwest of the country, approximately 300 kilometers of Abidjan, the economic capital.

This forest region is specialized in wood trade. Charcoal is made with wood waste left behind by big corporations that export and exploit wood. At these sites, women and children work seven days a week in an hostile environment - in extreme heat, with dust and smoke, near giant ovens covered with wood sawdust.

“Sissi Barra” reflects the vulnerability of the female charcoal production workers. They have low educational levels and are often victims of gendered violence. They face health problems because of the smoke absorption , such as respiratory and pulmonary diseases like bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, and ocular diseases. They are also likely to pass on precarious work to their daughters.

This story aims to promote awareness about social injustice, gender disparities, and the multiple challenges of the female charcoal production workers in the city of San Pedro.