Brazil, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Ghana, India, Japan, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand, Uganda
Living Labs: The Documentary(29 mins)
Between 70 and 90 per cent of all freshwater drawn in the developing world is used for growing crops. With water scarcity emerging as a global concern, we simply cannot continue the water-intense methods of the past. Yet, as human numbers increase, more food needs to be produced with the same - or shrinking - land. This calls for smarter, thriftier ways of using freshwater and increasing water's productivity in agriculture. It has to be achieved without damaging the environment, or undermining food security, jobs or health.
In response, the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF) has brought together dozens of researchers, policy makers and local communities in Africa, Asia and South America to look for practical solutions through action research. As the Challenge Program begins to synthesise its findings after three years of field work, we travel to eight of its benchmark river basins to find out what has been accomplished - and what remains to be done -- to grow more food with less water.
Living Labs: Andean System of Basins (5 mins)
Communities around Lake Fuquene, Colombia, are grappling with water scarcities, land degradation, water pollution and soil loss. Until recently, few realised these problems stem from how their own actions. Researchers are now working with the people to understand linkages and find better ways to manage resources locally.
Living Labs: Indo-Gangetic River Basin (5 mins)
Vast extents of land in India's Uttar Pradesh have turned barren due to high levels of salt, pushing already very poor people to the edge of survival. To reclaim such lands, researchers are now experimenting with salt resistant rice and wheat varieties and low-cost, natural substances to condition the soil.
Living Labs: Limpopo River Basin (5 mins)
Wetlands, covering a sixth of the Limpopo basin, control floods, guard against drought and keep millions of people alive. But as human numbers and activities increase, wetlands are showing signs of strain. Researchers are studying the mix of crop growing, livestock and fisheries to come up with a series of tools and guidelines to better balance resource use and conservation.
Living Labs: Mekong River Basin (5 mins)
It takes large volumes of water to grow rice, but old habits have to change in a world running short of water. Rice farmers in Thailand are adopting a new method, System of Rice Intensification (SRI), to achieve more crop with less seeds and water - but without damaging the environment. It involves using mulch, inter-cropping and transplanting rice earlier than usual.
Living Labs: Nile River Basin (5 mins)
Droughts, floods and environmental degradation have caused much concern among the ten African countries that share the River Nile. As they search for ways to minimise damage, researchers are focusing on people, livestock and the land near the source of this mighty river. Everybody needs to manage more with less water, and old habits have to change.
Living Labs: Sao Francisco River Basin (5 mins)
Dozens of interlinked small reservoirs provide water for household use, crops, cattle and wild animals in the Sao Francisco River Basin. But most users don't see beyond their local stream and reservoir, leading to upstream-downstream tensions. Researchers are now working on better ways to share limited water supplies, while empowering people to take greater control over their resources.
Living Labs: Volta River Basin (5 mins)
Unable to find any clean water, Ghanian farmers living close to cities use heavily polluted waste water to grow vegetables. Researchers are looking for ways to minimise health problems arising from such produce. One method: reduce contact between contaminants and vegetables. But producing clean food involves raising awareness among farmers, sellers and consumers.
Living Labs: Yellow River Basin (5 mins)
For years, the Yellow River has carried very large volume of mud and sand - the result of soil erosion upstream. Now a conservation farming is showing farmers how to improve soil quality and reduce soil loss. Several conservation methods are being promoted, including the use of mulch on farm lands and growing cover crops. Farmers and downstream communities can already see the benefits.
Japan's Pollution Experience: Bringing Water Back to Life (33 mins)
Many developing countries in Asia face challenges in providing clean drinking water and safe sanitation to all their people. Japan experienced similar situation when it rushed into economic development four decades ago. Untreated discharges from factories and homes polluted the rivers and lakes became so contaminated that even mosquito could not survive. The Minamata Disease and other illnesses caused by polluted water were major topics in the 1960s and 1970s, which raised awareness among the people and companies.
Stricter regulation and penalties on industrial waste water discharges forced Japanese industry to treat and purify waste water. These also spurred development of water disposal technologies. Meanwhile, households started using soap instead of chemical detergents. This originated in the Biwa Lake area, Japan's largest lake, to prevent the lake from eutrophication.
Both people and factories learned that controlling pollution at the sources is the best way of cleaning water. Freshwater fish slowly returned to the Tama river in the Tokyo Metropolitan area. But there are still problems like eutrophication of lakes, which shows how hard it is to restore aquatic ecosystems once polluted.
Where there is Water, There is Fish (26 mins)
The seasonal swelling and shrinking of the Tonle Sap Great Lake in the central floodplains of Cambodia has been likened to a beating heart - the heart of the Mekong River system, where vast numbers of fish act out their perpetual cycles of migrations. The film tells the story of the great fisheries that have evolved here over the centuries. Fish with rice was the basis on which in the past the Angkorian empire flourished. Today, the food security of Cambodia's population of 12 million still rests on fish and rice. The film stresses the importance of regional cooperation to protect these inland fisheries that are among the richest and the most biologically diverse in the world.
"Where there is water, there is fish" is part of the Mekong River Commission's ongoing campaign to increase awareness of Mekong issues and the need for regional cooperation in the management of natural resources for the benefit of the 55 million people living in the Lower Mekong Basin.
DVD: US$ 20
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