Delta Blues (film)

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Delta Blues (In a Land of Cotton)
Directed by M.E. van der Tuuk
Starring Oral Ataniyazova
Yusup Kamalov
Meryem Aslan
Max Spoor
Ian Small
Scott O'Connor
Sagitzjan Aitzjanov
Frits Verhoog
Rashid Koshekov
Bakhtiyar Zhollybekov
Music by M.E. van der Tuuk
Bazargul Karimova
Cinematography M.E. van der Tuuk
Edited by M.E. van der Tuuk
Release date
Country Netherlands
Language English / Dutch / Russian

Delta Blues (subtitled: In a Land of Cotton) is a documentary film shot in 2000.[1] The movie deals with the environmental problems emanating from the drying up of the Aral Sea, and the impact this has on political relationships in the Central Asian region (especially Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan). In particular, it focuses on the document Water-related vision for the Aral Sea basin for the year 2025 [2] 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.[3]


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 much 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 God. This leads to a situation where those (countries, regions or farms) who use most of the available water, benefit the most, but do not pay for it, leaving others (living downstream) with less and polluted water.

Whereas in most debates about accountability for water use, privatization is seen[by whom?] as the enemy of the people dependent on the water, many NGOs 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[who?] claim that this can only be changed by changing the soviet paradigm, namely by putting a price tag on water: the more water one uses and/or pollutes, the more one should pay.


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