| August 25, 2010

We don’t come across too many truths on a daily basis. We are not always given even the most basic information concerning the major issues plaguing the world, leading most of us to believe that certain problems are too complex for us to understand, well beyond our mental grasp, and therefore beyond our reach altogether.
Documentaries like “WATER WARS: WHEN DROUGHT, FLOOD AND GREED COLLIDE,” however should be in everybody’s grasp. It should be a section in our newspapers, a chapter in our current events literature and a segment in our news program. And, with the recent floods in Pakistan urgency for basic knowledge should be seizing us. “WATER WARS” would be a good start.
Remember when our teachers made us list basic human necessities: air, food and… water? “WATER WARS,” introduce us to those who are deprived of clean drinking water, while also suffering from droughts and floods. The film, directed by Jim Burroughs, who spent two years with his crew probing the cause in Bangladesh, also introduces us to the many people fighting for this basic human right. Activists, engineers and professors explain to us how man-made structures are the cause of the droughts, floods and contamination that kill 35,000 people per day.
The facts usually speak for themselves and they certainly do here: More than 884 million people around the world lack access to drinking water and 2.6 billion are without access to basic sanitation. Such numbers are overwhelming and seem beyond us, but the problem isn’t as complicated as we may think. The film explains how building of dams disrupting the natural flow of rivers is the cause of most water-related problems. It is why majorities of towns and villages are under water, why rivers are now banks of sand and why arsenic lives in 73% of irrigation wells in Bangladesh.
The film doesn’t stop in Bangladesh, but also takes us to the Netherlands and New Orleans to show us that the problem is worldwide and growing.
Most importantly “WATER WARS” reminds us of something we all sense on some level—that only monetary value and efficiency hold any weight in the world. Even the value of rivers, of water, is reduced to that. One Bengali woman reminds us that rivers hold spiritual and cultural significance, that they encompass the best of life, the best of mankind. This film is informative, but doesn’t neglect the heart of the matter.

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