The first truly global series of video films produced by TVE Asia Pacific has just been released.
Called Living Labs, it looks at worldwide efforts by researchers and farmers to grow more food with less water -– one of the biggest challenges in agriculture and freshwater management.
The series comprises a half-hour documentary and a set of self-contained, short videos, each five minutes in duration. The videos were filmed in nine countries in Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe and Latin America from August to October 2006.
The films were premiered at a key international scientific conference held in Vientiane, Lao PDR, organised by the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF), which also commissioned the series.
The International Forum on Water and Food, held in the Lao capital from 12 to 17 November 2006, is hosted by the Mekong River Commission (MRC). It brings together nearly 300 top researchers and policy makers from all regions of the world who are partners and associates of this global action research initiative.
The half-hour documentary served as the curtain-raiser for the meeting, while the five minute films catalysed discussion during different sessions.
The CPWF is arranged around five thematic areas which guide its research work; and a geographical focus on nine benchmark river basins distributed across the developing world -– the ‘living laboratories’ where scientists are trying out various methods and approaches for improving the efficiency and productivity of water.
TVEAP’s Living Labs series was filmed in eight of these river basins, as well as at the World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden –- a leading annual gathering of experts and activists engaged in freshwater management issues.
“This was one of the most ambitious and challenging video production we have undertaken,” says Nalaka Gunawardene, TVEAP Director/CEO who executive produced the series. “Early on, we recognized the scientific, survival and development value of these stories. Our challenge was to tell these stories using moving images in a way that everyone can understand and relate to.”
In conceptualizing and producing Living Labs, TVEAP applied its tried-and-tested approach: to be informed by science, but not immersed in it. The series was researched and scripted by Gunawardene, himself an award-winning science communicator, who worked with a multinational team.
“We need to increase water productivity because agriculture at present in developing countries uses 70 – 90% of water used by people. Cities are growing, the demands for drinking water for sanitation are enormous and will grow.”
- Dr. Jonathan Woolley
Program Coordinator, CPWF
“The Challenge Program really is a new way of the CGIAR system to look at research for poverty alleviation and livelihoods, but looking at ways of involving all the participants or all the stakeholders in approaches to research.”
- Dr Mishack Molope
Member, CPWF Consortium Steering Committee
“We had four months in which to move this project from concept to finished product,” says TVEAP Regional Programme Manager Manori Wijesekera, who production managed the global effort. “We worked across many time zones, languages, scientific disciplines and different broadcast standards. It was a huge logistical challenge.”
TVEAP engaged the services of Australian film-maker Adis Hondo to direct the series. Hondo traveled around the world working with locally-based and internationally credentialed camera crews in each country –- an important element of TVEAP’s policy of engaging local talent. They filmed to a common standard and were paid international rates.
|Living Labs location filming took place in the following
||In Asia: China, India, Thailand
||In Africa: Ghana, South Africa, Uganda
||In Latin America: Brazil and Colombia
||In Europe: Sweden
“We edited and post-produced the series in Melbourne, Australia -- so this production has truly involved five continents of the world,” says Wijesekera.
The films reflect the spirit of the Challenge Program: researchers work with -- and learn from -- farmers, officials and many others playing a role in water management, land use or agricultural productivity. Interviews in the series have been drawn from a diverse group of people from different backgrounds and speaking in different languages.
The series is narrated in English, with other language interviews sub-titled.
TVE Asia Pacific has a decade’s experience in documenting the Asia Pacific region’s quest for environmentally and socially sustainable development. It taps the power of moving images -– by telling factual, authentic stories drawn from the ground level -- and ‘ground zero’ -- on the struggle for reducing poverty and living more sustainably.
Living Labs builds on this communications expertise, networking capabilities and wide-ranging partnerships that have been built up over the years. All TVEAP films are produced journalistically to suit the non-technical public.
The Challenge Program on Water and Food is a worldwide initiative of action-oriented research operating under the umbrella of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research, or CGIAR -- a strategic alliance of members, partners and international agricultural centres that mobilizes science to benefit the poor.
CPWF is one of four challenge programs, designed to address global and regional issues of critical importance. It pools the knowledge and efforts of experts, policy makers, civil society groups and local communities in three developing regions -- Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Ultimately, the Program seeks to reduce poverty and enhance food security –- two of the most important international development priorities.
Look out for Living Labs broadcast version!
TVEAP has agreed with the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food to distribute the Living Labs series to broadcast, educational and civil society users anywhere in the world. The public version would be ready in early 2007
The series will also be added to TVEAP’s online film information database, and become available from the TVEAP online electronic shop from where DVD and VHS copies can be ordered.
For more information on receiving and using this series for education, awareness and advocacy purposes, contact TVEAP Distribution Division:
Click here for full credit list of the production team
Photos courtesy: Adis Hondo