Running Dry: Agriculture and Water Shortage in 'Aghbalou- The Source of Water'
Under the growing threat of climate change, many farmers are under pressure to reconsider their farming methods, as the most fundamental resource of life becomes increasingly scarce. At this time of rapid population growth and rising global temperatures, water is more precious than ever. Many areas of the world, including the Todgha Valley in Morocco, are faced with the menace of desertification as fertile land turns into desert.

Water is intrinsic to the processes that sustain all life on this planet. Underlying our agricultural and trade processes, it is invisibly transported as the "virtual water" in food products. Because the human body is around 60% water, our populations are entirely dependent on a constant supply of water to survive. While it is easy to forget the vital necessity of water in the comfort of first world plumbing systems, in the Moroccan desert the struggle against drought is becoming increasingly desperate. The immersive documentary Aghbalou: The Source of Water exposes the harsh reality of farming in parched conditions, where irrigation is a constant battle of human toil against the relentless heat.

Faithful to Chouette Films' driving passion to propel social change, Aghbalou is more than a passive documentary observing drylands agriculture. The film is an active project that sparked discussions in search of the most efficient agricultural solutions to irrigation in dry conditions. With every viewing it has promoted awareness and a passion for change with the aim of contributing to a wider ongoing movement of tackling desertification. In addition to this larger goal, the production of the documentary was instrumental to locally supporting the progress of struggling farmers in the Todgha Valley. The project has aided the evaluation of different irrigation methods and prompted the piloting of IDE drip technology in the area.

Now, with the World Day to Combat Desertification approaching, followed by United Nations (UN) Day in October, it is the optimal time to advance sustainability projects. For the UN's 71st year, the UN Day concert will place a strong emphasis on activism, focusing on pushing for concrete action in support of sustainable development. The UN's 17 goals aim "to propel us towards a better future for all on a healthy planet" (UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon). Goal 6 specifically urges us to stop wasting water, stating that over 40% of the population is affected by water scarcity.

In the context of this current pressure for action, Aghbalou's insights into the problems and potential solutions of drylands farming are more important than ever. The documentary recognizes the urgent problem of increasing water scarcity and invites forward thinking. It dares us to reconsider our attitude towards water and calls for the advancement of new technologies and solutions to equip our ever hotter, ever more crowded world.

Aghbalou is being screened at various international events this summer, including the 3rd European Climate Change Adaptation Conference in Scotland. It is also being shown in the US at the International Water History Conference in "Grand Rapids", 14th-16th June.

In July, the documentary will be shown at the AIMS conference in Tunisia. The theme of this interactive conference is "Making Space in the Maghrib" and will investigate the (un)naturalization of space. Aghbalou contributes to the project, providing a perspective on the relationship between communities and their changing environments and looking towards a sustainable agriculture to combat desertification. In addition, the documentary will feature at various smaller events, such as "The Reality Check" in London and "Le 18" in Marrakech. Aghbalou highlights water scarcity as an urgent global concern, prevalent throughout human history and crucial today in our development for a sustainable future.

Now, at the onset of summer, it is paramount that we recognize the urgency of combating desertification. As temperatures climb and the days lengthen, the dependency of humans on water becomes ever more pressing. While in first world countries we refill our water bottles from kitchen taps, in the Todgha Valley the wells are dug ever deeper into the ground in search of the retreating water.


"ECCA Film Evening Highlight: Aghbalou The Source of Water". European Climate Change Adaptation (ECCA).  Web,

"Making Space in the Maghrib". The American Institute of Maghrib Studies. Web,

"United Nations Day: 24 October". United Nations. Web,

"Water History: 2017 Grand Rapids". International Water History Association. Web,

"World Day to Combat Desertification: 17 June". United Nations. Web,

Chouette Films,