Delta Blues – in a land of cotton

In 2000 Mirrormundo went to Uzbekistan for interviews and to shoot footage for the documentary film Delta Blues (subtitled: In a Land of Cotton). The movie deals with the environmental degradation and human health problems in the Aral Sea region, and how this strains the relations between the former soviet Central Asian republics (especially Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan). In particular, it focuses on the Water-related vision for the Aral Sea basin for the year 2025 by UNESCO, as presented in 2000 at the 2nd World Water Forum in The Hague. This document has been criticized for setting unrealistic goals, and also, by focusing on the entire basin (south-west Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan), for implicitly giving up on the Aral Sea and the people living downstream in Karakalpakstan.

The cause of the drying up of the Aral Sea is the extensive irrigation, used for the production of (mainly) cotton. Apart from cotton being a thirsty crop, the irrigation canals are very inefficient and a lot of water is wasted. Furthermore, the water that is returned to the rivers is highly polluted (with pesticides and fertilizers). There is however no incentive to change the irresponsible use of water in the region. Water is an externality, regarded as given by nature or by God. This leads to a situation where those (countries, regions or farms) who use most of the available water, benefit the most, but don’t pay for it, leaving others (living downstream) with less and polluted water.

Whereas in most debates about water privatization is seen as the enemy of the people dependend on the water (view), many NGO’s in this (former soviet) region claim instead that the source of the water related problems lies in the irresponsible use of water; mainly by the agricultural sector (which is still predominantly owned by the state). Many claim that this can only be changed by changing the soviet paradigm, namely by putting a price tag on water: the more water you use and/or pollute, the more you should pay.

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interviewees

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READ (EN) the article about the recent history that has led to the environmental degradation

LEES (NL) het artikel over de geschiedenis die geleid heeft tot de milieu-problematiek

WATCH the TRAILER (English and Dutch spoken, Dutch and English sub-titled)

MORE documentaries by MirrorMundo

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2 Responses to “Delta Blues – in a land of cotton”

  1. […] For more documentaries by MirrorMundo click here […]

  2. Where can i find this movie? can you buy/download/streem it somewhere? please help, I have been looking forever for something about the Aral sea…

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