film, general, international, water justice

Abuello Grillo vs. The World

Words aren’t needed when watching this animation convey water justice issues using universal languages of imagery and sound. This animation was created at The Animation Workshop by a group of animators from Bolivia, a French director, music from Bolivia, and others from Mexico and Germany. It features Abuello Grillo (or Grandmother Cricket). Her melodic voice causes the rain to fall filling rivers and feeding crops. One day on a trip away from the countryside, she is kidnapped. Her captors make her sing on stage while they fill water trucks to sell the water to villagers.

The ability of a wordless film to tell an intricate story reminds me we can communicate globally without language barriers. This film was able to make me remember many people in the Global South face extremely high water prices when companies purchase and sell municipal water, wonder about the legality of extracting massive amounts of water for bottled water sales, and inquire about the nuances of the definition of human right to water. What does it tell you?

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drinking water, film, outreach, PSA-a-thon Series, sanitation, united nations

Don’t Let it Drop – PSA-a-thon Series

Are you ready for your daily dose of H20 packaged into a handy-dandy Public Service Announcement? Well, I hope so. Today’s PSA is from WaterAid. It was created to encourage world leaders to make toilets a priority at the upcoming UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Summit in September 2010. Musicians playing at Glastonbury Festival were featured in the PSA.

Ten years ago, United Nations member states agreed to achieve eight MDGs by 2015 to end global poverty. MDG No. 7 includes a target to reduce – BY HALF – the number of people without safe drinking water and basic sanitation. See the recent MDG Report 2010 for more information on the status of all targets.

More PSA-maddness can be found covering rainwater harvesting in India, the LA Tap Project, a water-conservation campaign in Denver, the Tap Project 2009, Charity Water, and The World Cup, Water, and Sanitation.

film, groundwater, hydrogeology, south america

The Guarani Project: Upcoming Documentary

As you may know, I’m intrigued by new films about water. An upcoming documentary, The Guarani Project, looks to provide a balanced perspective of water-management challenges surrounding the Guarani Aquifer in South America. The Guarani Aquifer is one of the largest sources of underground water worldwide. It is shared by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. A proposed plan to allocate this groundwater has seemed to fail. Why? How are the people who rely on this water supply affected?

My professor from OSU – Dr. Michael Campana (a hydrogeologist with considerable global experience) – shares his insights in the film. He recently wrote a post about the film on his blog WaterWired. The full documentary is forthcoming. The film-makers are seeking YOUR support in making this happen. Visit their website, Facebook, and Twitter for information. In the meantime, here are two clips from the film.

The Guarani Aquifer: a complex history, an uncertain future

drought, film, groundwater, india, lakes

Lakes Important to Urban Areas: The Bangalore Example

Bangalore in Karnataka, India was once a city of lakes. Around 1,792 lakes existed there 500 years ago built by the city’s founder. In the 1960s, about 280 lakes were left. An estimated 70 to 80 lakes remain today. Lakes were lost from development and surrounding commercial or household encroachment. This is a great loss for cities because lakes help recharge groundwater supplies, reduce the air temperatures, and provide habitat for wildlife and vegetation.

The India Water Portal recently hosted The Lost Lakes of Bangalore contest. The aim of this project was to document histories of lost lakes in the city. The winning entry was “Err- bane” Truth – Dharmambudi Tank. I really enjoyed watching this short-film. It showed, in an easy-to-understand format, the importance of lakes to urban areas.

drinking water, film, india, outreach, sustainability, urban areas

Water for the Ages in India: Two Weeks at Arghyam

Two weeks ago I started my internship, and time has been traveling at unstoppable speeds. I am over my jetlag, learning to cross the road without getting pummeled, increasing my caffeine tolerance by drinking chai and coffee daily, making new friends, and experiencing life working at a dynamic water-NGO in India. The Arghyam office is in a converted bungalow in the neighborhood of Indiranagar in Bangalore. Lucky enough, I live within walking distance.

So what does a week look like for me?

After arriving to the office in the morning, I hear people chatting about water and sanitation projects in one of many languages such as Kannada, Tamil, Hindi, or English. (Everyone here speaks two, three, or four languages or more.) Much of the time, I am preparing for upcoming fieldwork to evaluate gender equity at two water and sanitation project sites in Tamil Nadu. Some of the time, I am working on another project compiling information on participatory groundwater management (a project focus of the Rural Grants Team where my internship is located). The rest of the time, I have been able to attend water and sanitation events held at Arghyam or in the local area. A couple of recent events included:

Voices from the Waters – A Film Festival

Two weekends ago, I visited the largest water film festival in the world. This 4th annual festival, organized by the Bangalore Film Society (BFS), showcased over 100 water-themed films from around the world. Mr. Georgekutty, secretary of the BFS, is the driving force behind the event. He conceived of the festival after hosting a forum in 2004 “to bring awareness about the scarcity of drinking water… and the privatization of water.”

Festival Booklet

Voices from the Waters become a traveling film festival after the weekend is complete. The films are shown in local schools in Bangalore and across the state of Karnataka. Arghyam is supporting this part of the festival which ensures that those without the means to travel are still able to benefit from water films compiled. Mr. Georgekutty hopes the festival will eventually travel to major cities across India. And, in my opinion, it would be great if it could travel to big cities and rural villages across the world.

Here is my interview with Mr. Georgekutty on YouTube.

Field Visit to Hebballi Village and Primary School

Last Thursday, I traveled with Arghyam staff to visit a progressive water conveyance and management system in the rural village of Hebballi and at their local primary school.

We attended a ceremony to celebrate a rainwater harvesting (RWH) system constructed at the Government Higher Primary School. This system was funded by Arghyam in collaboration with an NGO called Geo Rainwater Board. There are RWH collection units on three buildings at the school. Rainwater flows from the roofs, through charcoal/sand filter units, and into an 18,000 liter storage tank. Students access the water through a hand-pump in the main classroom. The school has a rain gauge and chalkboard so students can record monthly precipitation, brand new sanitation facilities, and students grow their own vegetables for mid-day meals. It was apparent that the youth are quite proud of their sustainable school system and rightly so.

Monthly Precipitation Chalkboard
Above Photo: Courtesy Amrtha at Arghyam.

We toured the water conveyance and management system in the surrounding village of Hebballi after the ceremony. All 250 homes in the village have indoor, piped water supply. A community-based committee, as common in rural areas in India, is responsible for managing the water supply system. Through the installation of water meters on each house, the committee is able to recoup Operation and Maintenance fees. Each user pays 30 rupees for up to 8,000 liters of water each month. (In US terms, that is about 62 cents for 2113.4 gallons of water).

For more information, read this case study by S. Vishwanath.

Author’s Postcript:
I am living in India for a four-month long internship with Arghyam, an organization that works on water issues across the country. Along the way, I will document my journey. Please see the Water in India page above for more information.

animation, art, community, film, united nations, water availability

Are you ready for a global-water multimedia adventure?

Already today, I have been able to visit people and places in Yemen, India, Mexico, Niger, and Kenya to learn more about local and global water issues. How, you may ask? Easy, I reply – The Water Channel.

The Water Channel is a partnership between MetaMeta Communications, UNESCO-IHE, Cap-Net and Nymphaea. It has videos from around the world on water topics ranging from Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) to watershed education and outreach.

The Water Channel Logo

My favorite videos so far include –

Water is a Gift: An artful animation about water produced by the Natural Water Resources Authority in Yemen (complete with English subtitles). This film juxtaposes drawings and digital video to talk about the significance of groundwater and drip irrigation in Yemen.

Tears (Lagrimas): A “fictional” film about a young girl wistful for the days when she was able to access water at a local source. This video has no words, only images, and was shown at fourth World Water Forum in Mexico.

Kenya: What Water Means to Me: One teacher at Karen ‘C’ Primary School in Kenya documents her students’ views on water. These students discuss the role of H20 in their daily lives: water shortages at school, water shortages at home, water-borne illnesses, and possible solutions to these water problems.

If you want to see others, visit the 164 videos (and counting) at The Water Channel website.

africa, drinking water, film, groundwater, outreach, PSA-a-thon Series, water availability, water conflict

Charity Water – PSA-a-thon Series

Here is another Public Service Announcement (PSA) for the series. This PSA was created by the organization Charity Water to raise money for water-supply projects in Africa. Now my professor Aaron Wolf at Oregon State University might be a little dismayed by the references to war and water in this PSA (actually, his research has found that only one war has ever occurred because of water). Nevertheless, it shows how multimedia can be used to support water projects around the globe.

The other four PSAs in the series cover rainwater harvesting in India, the LA Tap Project, a water-conservation campaign in Denver, and the Tap Project 2009.

film, groundwater, united nations

Happy World Water Day!

Don’t forget, it’s World Water Day. The first World Water Day was originally declared by the United Nations General Assembly on March 22, 1993. This annual designation is meant to focus international attention on global water problems and solutions.

Each World Water Day is assigned a unique theme. The theme for today is “Shared Waters – Shared Opportunities” to recognize the importance of understanding transboundary surface water and ground water sources (waters that span two or more political boundaries). There are at least 263 transboundary rivers basins (surface water) and 273 transboundary aquifers (ground water) in the world. Over 40 percent of all people on the planet live in international river basins.

In honor of World Water Day, I’ve watched the video called River of War, River of Life: The Fate of the Nile by Luciana Capretti on the World Water Day website.

Posted to Live Earth Video by andy on March 09, 2009

This short film describes water problems encountered by the ten countries that lie within the Nile River Basin from the headwaters to the delta. Problems in the basin include dam construction, rapid development, political conflicts regarding water sources, dropping water levels, diminishing aquatic species, and watershed deforestation. Much of the film focuses on Uganda’s efforts at curtailing these problems with policy solutions. Yet, all of the countries in the Nile River Basin seem to poised to draft an accord for the fair use of the waters of the Nile under the Nile Basin Initiative. Overall the film was a bit Western-centric in view, but with astonishing imagery and important information nonetheless.

Author’s Postscript: Daniel Collins, author of the water blog Cr!key Creek, has compiled all water blog posts that focus on transboundary water and World Water Day. Be sure to check out his website to read other interesting posts on similar topics.

drinking water, film, water availability

One Water.org

I’m not sure if you noticed, but water journalism is becoming the next big thing. And, you know, this is really great because it will encourage more people to pay attention to world water supplies, conserve water, work on water availability technology, and, generally, just become more aware about global water issues.

The University of Miami – School of Communication is interested in global water, too. They recently collaborated on a project called One Water. This website features a movie about global water supplies called One Water, youth curriculum about global water issues called KNOWATER, and a weppage for water journalism called 1H20.org.

logo

drinking water, film, general, groundwater, india, outreach, PSA-a-thon Series, sustainability

LA Tap Project – PSA-a-thon Series

Yes, it’s true.  I am a sucker for any great Public Service Announcement (PSA) relating to water. If produced right, sometimes these PSAs have the ability to intrigue me, bring a smile to my face, educate me, and move me to action or even to tears.

Because I love PSAs about water so much, I am going to feature them on Water for the Ages in a PSA-a-thon Series. Be sure and check out the first in the series: a PSA on rainwater harvesting made for television in India.

The second in the series, today’s PSA, is a little out-of-date but neat nonetheless. It was created for the Tap Project, an outreach effort each year from March 16 to March 22, to raise money for UNICEF’s water programs. Enjoy.

agriculture, drinking water, film, groundwater, international, middle east

Drying Up Palestine – A Documentary Film

“Shot on location in the West Bank over a period of almost a year, Drying up Palestine illustrates the stresses and strains imposed on Palestinian society by Israel’s almost total control over access to water and sewage facilities in the Occupied Territories. Told in the words of ordinary inhabitants, the film creates a compelling portrait of the impact of military occupation on everyday life.”

– Planet in Focus Film Festival

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drinking water, economy, film, international, outreach, rivers, water availability, water trade

‘The politics of oil and water’ – Interviews on Big Think

Several interviews on the ‘politics of oil and water’ are featured this week on Big Think, a website of ideas from people on everything including the environment. The following people and others were asked about “access to oil and water as a human right, sources of alternative energy and the future of global conflicts over resources”.

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africa, drinking water, drought, film, international, outreach, rivers, sustainability, water availability

Quick Story on Water in Africa

In Africa, there is a young girl named Christina. She lives with her family in a small village in rural Ghana in West Africa. Ghana is close the equator with a tropical climate, but each year over eight months may pass without a drop of rain. During these dry spells, the one small pond in her village will slowly evaporate in the hot sun. Villagers are forced to seek water elsewhere. It is Christina’s job to fetch her family’s daily ration of water. Each day, she will walk up to four hours to gather enough water. Christina is a hardworking girl, but because she walks so far for water means she has no time to attend school. Christina is a real girl, and this is a true story as told in the short film below by Water Aid. Water Aid is an international organization with a vision of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. Intrigued? Read more about water in Africa below.

Africa Water Facts

Desert, rainforest, and savanna – over 900 million people live in Africa. It is the second largest continent in the world. Of all who live in Africa, 340 million people (38%) lack access to clean water and 500 million people (56 %) lack access to sanitation facilities.

If you lived in Africa, you would have to walk an average of six kilometers (3.72 miles) to carry sometimes dirty or murky water home to your family for use. The burden of this chore often falls on the women and children of a household.

The Nile, Niger, Volta, and Zambezi River Basins cross multiple political borders making water policy difficult and even volatile according to research conducted by the UN as featured on the BBC.


Above Photo: Water availability in Africa.UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics Library

drinking water, drought, film, groundwater, international, outreach, sustainability, united nations, water availability

World Water Day to Highlight the Global Water Crisis

About 4,500 children die each day from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation facilities. – UNICEF


‘A mother in Delhi, India, helps her son drink from a public tanker on World Water Day 2007’, photo on BBC News.

World Water Day 2008

Events happening across the globe draw international attention to a lack of available and clean drinking water supplies on World Water Day, whether celebrating March 20th (as so noted in this post on Water Wired) or on the typical March 22nd.

According to the United Nations, this year’s World Water Day theme will emphasize ‘Sanitation’ to coincide with the designated International Year of Sanitation.

Confusion about the date of the event this year (to account for a religious holiday on the weekend) certainly has not hindered many from observing the need to focus on global water issues.

March 20th Events (to name a few)

Global Water Challengeand Ashoka’s Changemakers invite people to submit entries for the competition to solve the global water crisis: “Tapping Local Innovation: Unclogging the Water and Sanitation Crisis“. One million dollars in funding is available to help implement these projects, and entries are due by March 26, 2008.

Shekhar Kapur launches a blog on Changemakers.net inspired by his latest film, ‘Paani’ (Water), which will examine the daily struggle for water in the slums of Mumbai.

The Our World – Our Water group on Flickr is launched to encourage those from around the world to share photos and stories about water.

March 22nd Events (to name a few)

WaterPartners Village — a virtual exploration of the water crisis — will launch across social networking sites like Second Life on World Water Day. A virtual concert, with proceeds to support global water organizations, will start at 5:00 pm (PDT) on March 22, 2008 at the WaterPartners Village stage.

Worldwaterday.net is organizing events across the United States that observe World Water Day including organized walks to raise money for the global water crisis.

Gramalaya in association with WaterPartners International and WaterAid – UK is organising World Water Day 2008 in Tamil Nadu, India. The event will be attended by more than 20,000 women from 430 villages and 186 slums in Tiruchi City will be participating. The event will be telecast at Suryan FM 93.5.

WorldWaterDay.org features events happening across the globe and on the Internet.

The Film Connection supports World Water Day by featuring several films about water for viewing and discussion about global water issues. ‘With this film program, we invite you to take a closer look at how individuals experience and utilize this diminishing resource.’

The above poster is part of an outreach campaign by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council.

film, india, international, sustainability

‘Voices from the Water’ Film Festival: Call for Submissions

The 3rd annual ‘Voices from the Water‘ Film Festival is officially announcing a call for submissions.

The world’s largest international water film festival will be held in August of 2008 in Bangalore, India. Individuals are invited to enter films in categories ranging from water scarcity to water and life. Please e-mail bangalorefilmsociety@gmail.com or waterjourneys@rediffmail.com for submission instructions.

For more information on films and film festivals pertaining to water issues, see the Water Films tab at the top of this page.