Thanks for joining us this week.
We had a great week, because we launched our latest documentary film Water Stories from Bangladesh
during an online event. It was a great pleasure to host a discussion with many experts, journalists and ambassadors of the Netherlands as well as Bangladesh. Thanks to Earth Journalism Network
we could make this climate journalism project a success!
You can watch the film below. We are happy with the constructive comments from the Bangladeshi audience, and their support. We have hit 1K views already. If you have any ideas for screening opportunities let me know.
Let’s keep growing together!
Currently we are working hard to premiere our 40-minute film Me and Mekong on 26 October in the Watersnood museum in the Netherlands. While working on this event someone asked me about the parallels and differences between the Mekong Delta and the Netherlands.
I told her that the Netherlands is comparable to the Mekong Delta in terms of population (around 17M inhabitants), density and size. Both low-lying areas have the same preconditions, but different solutions and cultures to cope with floods, salinisation and subsidence.
For example, in the Netherlands we have a long history of making polders – areas surrounded by dikes with groundwater level control. This technique is quite easy and more economical than landfill, but only if it is managed and maintained well. In Vietnam you see landfill projects everywhere; it’s a low-cost way of keeping the area safe from high water, but it can be very expensive in the long run.
Another example: the Dutch government has full control over the water management system. So much so, that I don’t realise that I live in a vulnerable delta. The climate is changing: sea level is rising, intense rainfall events and droughts are on the increase. Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about this, because the government will fix it. But what do I do if a dyke breaks tomorrow and my house in Rotterdam gets flooded by one metre? Are the Dutch people self-reliant and resilient enough when their district floods?
Unlike my hometown Rotterdam, the delta is ‘feelable’ in Can Tho city. The tide of the sea is noticeable in the city centre, neighbourhoods are affected by flooding after monsoon rains, and street levels fall by up to ten centimetres a year. This is why self-reliance and resilience are in the DNA of Vietnamese people. It’s born out of necessity, because residents are more or less left to their own devices.
In general, solutions are not centrally controlled. There is no Maeslantkering (a storm surge barrier in the Netherlands) yet or a dike around the city to protect residents against flooding. Therefore the people vulnerable to flooding take the initiative to protect their homes, their belongings and merchandise by themselves.
During my travels through the Mekong Delta just before COVID-19 hit, I learnt that we have to learn from Vietnamese people how to become resilient. It’s time to learn from each other and stand on each other’s shoulders.