The misunderstood role of water in conflict

What is the role of access to drinking water in the context of forced displacement and conflict?

The World Bank Group called on Voilà: to visualize some of the findings in this report.

The World Bank’s “Ebb and Flow, Volume 2 : Water in the Shadow of Conflict in the Middle East and North Africa” report aims to clarify the role of access to safe drinking water in a context of conflict.

Clean water is often thought of as the driver of conflict. In certain situations, water is the victim; in others, it is a tool for cooperation. Yet its largest impact remains in the role it plays in the migration of populations.

Draw up a global portrait

The project consisted of visualizing these findings to support the World Bank’s call to action. It was a matter of drawing up a global portrait of the urgent issues linked to the living conditions of migrant populations and their host countries over a very large geographical area.

To present this dense amount of information divided into three main themes—(1) the strong migration of populations out of step with access to drinking water, (2) water as a source of conflict or cooperation, (3) daily life precarious populations in the face of water scarcity—we chose to create a single immersive landscape divided in three parts:


A travel sketchbook style

In order to bear witness to a reality experienced by populations on the move, we chose to produce line and hand illustrations that recall the atmosphere of travel diaries. The warm and restrained palette allowed us to focus on what matters: the facts are illustrated in colour, while the discreet decor provides context.

Merge drawing and data

Some figures are illustrated: they are counted in number of tents, in number of people. All of this forms an immersive visual, an overview of the situation described. We made some of the additional figures fit naturally into the landscape.

The people behind the data

In the case of a visualization depicting tragic and painful situations experienced by populations, it was important not to hide people behind numbers. The addition of three testimonies collected in the field makes it possible to connect the infographic to reality.

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