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Ben Please

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The primary project in Tanzania has been based in the central region of Iringa. The partner organisation for this project is the Friends of Ruaha Society (FORS) - a local NGO previously concerned with the running and conservation of the Ruaha National Park, but now has expanded to work in the surrounding communities.

There are a number of critical issues facing the region. With water being so integral to many of these FORS and the Brock Initiative decided to work first on a film addressing some of the issues.

The major environmental concern surrounding water here revolves around the Great Ruaha River. This major river used to run all year round, from central Tanzania, to the coast. It goes through the heart of the Ruaha National Park, the second
largest in Tanzania, whilst also providing almost half of the country's electricity at the hydroelectric dams downstream from Iringa. However, problems in the catchment for this river have meant that despite no real decrease in
rainfall, the river now dries up completely for most of the year. The surrounding area, the industries, the people, the park and the environment are all suffering as a result of this. In the surrounding area there are many signs of decertification, drought and environmental degradation.

There are said to be three primary causes for this. Firstly, massive deforestation on the catchment.Secondly, massive agricultural development in the wetland directly below the catchment, which syphons off most of the water.And thirdly, also on the wetland, massive grazing activity, which has drastically reduced the wetlands capability to retain water. Therefore, in the wet season, massive flash floods rage down the Ruaha, causing much damage and soil erosion. And then in the dry season, nothing.

FORS were also concerned that attitudes to water on a local level were rarely concerned with using it efficiently or carefully, and much was wasted. They wanted a film that would educate people about the importance and fragility of our water resources, whilst also offering practical and positive steps that everyone could do to improve the situation on a local level.

FORS currently works on developing teacher packs to initiate, encourage and facilitate teaching of the new Tanzanian primary school environmental syllabus, which is currently widely neglected by teachers. They saw a film as being a
fantastic, and potentially highly effective addition to this pack.

Obviously not many schools have the facilities to use videos. However, FORS has a manageable remit area and therefore were willing to find ways of delivering and showing the film, as part of its work, in its designated schools. With this large yet tangible target audience we decided to move ahead with the project. It is however hoped that beyond this, others will request to use the film, thus slowly increasing distribution of a slowly increasing library of films, including the Ministry of Education, who have been very interested in developing teacher resources such as this in the coming years.

FORS' work, though restricted to a particular area, is however relevant on a national level as it deals with the national syllabus, therefore the options to increase and expand distribution will come in the future.