Friday, February 27, 2009

Slow Water

"As the ball got rolling, this was not the case at all: first, a farmer from Mexico stood up and began to talk about water access issues and the perils of privatisation. He talked about how his farm was affected, the everyday issues of not having enough water to grow crops and what his preoccupations for a very dry-looking future. Next, a strikingly graceful woman raised her hand. She stood and explained that she was from the Tuareg tribe of the Sahara desert in Africa. The Tuareg are primarily nomadic pastoralists and their main livelihood is livestock breeding and trading. The woman who spoke during the workshop talked about the challenges faced by her people due to long periods of drought: she explained that when no water can be found, her people must slaughter their animals and drink the water found in their stomachs. To a Tuareg this is an action taken out of desperation, when there are really no other options. This is a form of killing off your long-term source of life to save you in the short run from thirst. Drought and water access issues reach far beyond agriculture and perhaps hit those practicing other forms of subsistence the worst. This story was particularly moving but there were many others throughout the session.

You might be asking yourself how all of this talk of water fits in with Terra Madre and Slow Food? Well, without water there would not be any food. That is why water is perhaps one of the most pressing issues that Slow Food and the Terra Madre network need to address. In the face of climate change and raging issues of environmental pollution, the participants of the water and agriculture workshop agreed that it was time to take action. We all felt it was not enough to just talk once and then return to our own isolated realities. As the session was wrapping up, Rami Zurayk could feel the energy in the air and he proposed that we not end here. He could tell that this discussion was far from over so he moved to take a few minutes at the end of the workshop to define the goals for a new network focused on water."

Rachel Black writes about Slow Water

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