A documentary about the never ending quest for water in one of the driest habitats on earth
In the face of an increasingly hostile and unpredictable climate, AGHBALOU - The Source of Water combines a local story of struggle and neglect with a global call to action against the growing challenges of sustaining water and fighting poverty.
The oases of the Todgha Valley in Southern Morocco have successfully sustained livelihoods and agriculture for centuries through an ancient and elaborate system of underground channels, but today new threats and challenges are facing these age-old communities. The film aims to tell the story of people and their individual aspirations for a better future amid the swirl of challenges facing the area: population growth, groundwater over-extraction, emigration, climate change and unequal development, among others. The film explores irrigation practices in the Todgha Valley, a river oasis on the southern slopes of the High Atlas Mountains, revealing how agricultural developments can be both an opportunity and a possible threat to the rural poor. It looks at the future of agriculture in the region and presents potential strategies to adapt to growing water scarcity.
Water is an essential livelihood asset, especially for the rural poor who rely on agriculture. Improving both access to water and water productivity are important factors in the betterment of livelihoods and in poverty reduction. One of the crucial ways of improving water productivity is irrigation, which is believed to boost production by up to 400%. In the last century, the world's irrigated area has expanded more than sixfold, from around 40 million hectares in 1900 to more than 260 million hectares.
Today, 40% of global food production comes from irrigated land. In regions with little or no surface water, resource shortages are met by using groundwater. This is particularly true for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) which is home to 6% of the world's population and yet has some 1.4% of the world's water resources. In fact, groundwater is the main source of water in 54% of the region. In the non-oil economies of the region, irrigated farming is still the basis for many livelihoods and is the largest employment sector. With 50% of its population engaged in agriculture, Morocco is no exception in this regard. Groundwater irrigated agriculture has been the main means through which national food security has been pursued in the country and grew threefold from 1970-1996. According to AQUASTAT, Morocco is among the top 20 groundwater-irrigating countries. Yet, none of these 20 countries are located in areas with high average annual groundwater recharge. As in other MENA countries, groundwater use in Morocco dates back to ancient civilisation; khettara (also known as qanat or fogra) is an ancient technique of tapping groundwater which emerged in present-day Iran, but has been widely adopted in the entire MENA region since the 7th century. Khettaras can in many ways be considered a sustainable technology, as they cannot deplete aquifers, being gravity-driven and dependent on groundwater levels. However, the rise of motor pumping in the 1970s has greatly intensified groundwater abstraction and threatened the existence of khettaras.
Today, the continuing intense use of groundwater coupled with severe climatic conditions has had a dire impact on aquifers, thus reducing the potential productivity of groundwater irrigation. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Morocco expects a decrease of 20-30% in rainfall, perhaps even as high as 40%, and a 2.5-5°C increase in mean air temperature by the year 2080. Morocco's oases in particular will likely suffer from serious deterioration as a result of climate change, made even worse by demographic and urban pressures.
The pre-production stage of Aghbalou: The Source of Water concluded in June 2012. 'Phase one' of production commenced In July 2012 in Morocco, during which time farmers and directors of different irrigation associations were interviewed and filmed. In October 2012, 'phase two' of production began in London, consisting of filmed interviews with NGOs and prominent academics in the field of water management, including with Professor Tony Allan (King's College London, School of Oriental and African Studies), who developed the concept of virtual water, and with International Development Enterprises, a non-profit organization that has developed a range of low-cost, gravity drip irrigation systems appropriate for the budgets and land sizes of small farmers. If budget allows, there are also plans to interview Professor Thierry Ruf (Institut de recherche pour le développement) in Montpellier, who proposed the revival of traditional khettara irrigation through community participation and investment in ecotourism.
Why support our project
With the backing of the UK Irrigation Association, Chouette Films is working on this project as part of its campaign to raise awareness on development issues and help raise the voices of those that would otherwise go unheard. We have already made a great start, having completed the research and shot the core footage. Our immediate goal is of course to raise the funds needed so we can complete a great film and promote it, and we wouldn't be able to do this without your donations, large or small. But it doesn't end there, as we are most interested in what happens next. That is where you come in - we want you to be in charge of the campaign, as the larger goal of the film is to generate discussion, dialogue and exchange of ideas and information. More than just an educational resource, our aim is for the film to act as part of an open-source platform of discussion among students, academics, engineers, innovators, entrepreneurs, charities, NGOs and the wider public.
We are not claiming that we can change the world, but we believe that as part of the bigger picture, if we work together new collaborations may be born, new innovations encouraged, and new progress achieved, step-by-step. In the end it is up to you how much impact this film will generate, which is why we not only ask for any material contributions you may be able to offer, but just as importantly for your sustained interest in and engagement with our project. So please share this with your friends, and help us continue the discussion by contributing your own thoughts and ideas via our website or contact us via facebook or twitter
Would you like to know more or get more involved?
To contact us with questions or for other ways to help, get involved, donate or become a sponsor partner please email us at email@example.com
Thank you for your support.
Remigiusz & Anna
Chouette Films is an award winning and community-focused film production company that specialises in working with the charitable, non-profit and public sectors. Our mission is to draw on the experiences and stories of the world of non-profits, the public sector and academia and merge it with the creative world so that people’s voices are heard rather than being left to gather dust on library shelves or vanish in long forgotten memories.
Director: Remigiusz Sowa is an award-winning documentary filmmaker with directing, filming and producing experience in North Africa, Middle East and Europe. His film "The Last Anchorite" has won the Best Documentary Transmitter Award at the London Crystal Palace International Film Festival. He is the director of a film production company Chouette Films where he makes films for a wide range of purposes, from education to development, environmental to humanitarian, and far beyond.
Producer/Researcher: Anna Sowa has several years of experience as a film researcher since designing a filmmaking project in 2006 to involve inner-city London young people, supported by a grant awarded by the European Commission. She has worked on film productions in Egypt and peace-building filmmaking projects in Israel and Palestine for Middle East Non-Violence and Democracy (MEND) and the Anna Lindh Foundation. She holds an MSc degree in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Independent filmmaking is always a challenge, from financing to production to promotion, but we are committed to the AGHBALOU project and to delivering on our promises, and Chouette Films has all the skills, expertise and commitment needed to make a great film. It has taken a lot of perseverance to make it as far as we have, and we are proud to say that thanks in part to our expert backing by the UK Irrigation Association, Phase 1 of production has already been completed, meaning we already have plenty of stunning footage. The main risk to the project is that we don't get the funding needed to finish editing the film and promote it to its full potential, which is why we are asking for your help.
One specific challenge we face is meeting our own tight deadline for the film's completion. We have been invited to debut the film at the International Water History Association Conference being held in Montpellier, France from 24-29 June 2013. While we are confident we have the experience and staffing needed to meet this ambitious target, securing the funding needed and finalising the French translation in such a short timescale is admittedly a major challenge. In addition, the film score composer David Lazar is only available for a limited time in April, meaning we will need to have the film score and voiceover ready by the Spring.
In spite of these challenges, we know that our passion and commitment combined with the support of people like you will make this project possible.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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