Words by Kit
At our March Film & Feast, we saw three short films about water by an Austrian documentary maker, collectively titled Uber Wasser.
We saw close up, the plight of people on the coast of Bangladesh being confronted with their coastline shrinking in front of their eyes. They might wake up in the morning to see yet another slab of land now collapsed into the sea.
A harrowing situation to view (let alone experience)…..the unpredictability of rain, and sea-level movements require them to lift their houses (made of corrugated iron) inland, with bare hands, with the help of a group of family and neighbours. That is, if they are lucky enough to know someone who will let them share the land. Saltwater contaminates the rice fields, and traditional practices and cycles are less and less sustainable.
The people spoke of these changes with a sense of resignation. The cause of the changes was thought to be the will of Allah.
How different might be their demeanour if they knew about the concept of anthropogenic climate change (caused by human activity). This part of the world brings home to us the effects of the rich world’s lifestyles on the lives of the poor. How clearly we can see that environmental issues are bound up with social, political and economic issues.
The Aral Sea
Once the fourth largest inland lake; now a shadow of its former self. The water diverted for irrigation for agriculture gradually dried up the lake. A vibrant fishing industry that employed over 60,000 people, is no longer in existence. The industries, cultures and lives that used to centre around fishing, are a thing of the past, and for many living there, their history and heritage has been obliterated.
Water management must be one of the biggest issues of our era.
The third documentary about water was set in Nairobi, capital of Kenya. The film showed agricultural labourers who had been forced off their land due to drought and desertification.
Clustering on the edge of towns and cities, without access to the urban infrastructures of sanitation, electricity, rubbish collection and water supply, people living in such slums get by, using Government water points or bores.
The distribution and economy operating around rationing water at those pumps were shown, highlighting hardship for water-carriers, and the hazards of relying on the water ‘gate-keepers’. Research tells us that now, micro-financing is making a positive difference in some people’s access to water. (It is mostly women who take up these loans.)
Exploitation by multi-national corporations exacerbates the water shortage situation in many developing countries. In Nairobi, entities such as Nestle and Big Alcohol use enormous amounts of fresh water in making their products, and they put toxic run-off into local rivers.
Reflections on the three short films
These films brought to our ‘lounge-rooms’ the situations and struggles of people in countries far from Australia. I appreciated getting a broader view of human societies and the role of environmental issues in the day to day lives of others.
Film & Feast is Transition Bondi’s monthly movie event. Come for 3-course locally-sourced vegan meal and documentary film. Stay for the conversation afterwards. Check our events page for upcoming Film & Feast event details.