This photo won the first prize for professional photographers in the MDG Goal 7 (Ensure environmental sustainability) category of UNDP’s Second Annual Picture This photo contest. This year’s competition drew attention to the quickly approaching deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Dutch photographer Marielle van Uitert (36) took her prize-winning photo in the Central African Republic in March 2010, on behalf of the Dutch aid organization Cordaid. The children in the photo live near an orphanage there.
“These children were so happy to finally get some clean water,” Marielle says. “They sometimes do competitions to see who can be the first one to fill the bucket with water.”
Marielle van Uitert specializes in war photography and social issues in vulnerable countries.
“When I was in Cambodia and Vietnam in 2004 I was inspired by the shocking image of Kim Phuc, who was attacked by napalm bombs,” Marielle says. “I started reading about this picture and especially the impact it had on the whole world. I decided right away to give up my job as a diving instructor and become a professional photographer.”
Ms. Van Uitert was one of almost 1,400 contestants who submitted over 3,000 photos to the UNDP competition, which was co-sponsored by the Olympus Corporation, the Agence France-Presse Foundation and the UN’s Department of Public Information. A panel of jurors that included four photojournalists and the actor and UN Development Programme (UNDP) Goodwill Ambassador Antonio Banderas awarded a total of 22 prizes and honourable mentions. Besides first prize in the MDG 7 category, Ms. Van Uitert’s photo also won the overall second prize for professional photographers. The photos are on exhibit at UN offices in New York and Tokyo.
Mr. Banderas said he hoped the images would be part of a “wave” that could influence heads of State who will gather at UN Headquarters in New York [from 20-22 September 2010] to chart how to make progress on the MDGs by their 2015 deadline.
See more of Marielle van Uitert’s photos on her web site.
 High-level Plenary Meeting of the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly on the Millennium Development Goals, 20-22 September 2010, New York. Go to the UN Summit web site.