Green Mirage: Documentary on communal water management in Tunisia


A description I was sent:

A documentary about the Demmer village in the southern Tunisia and its traditional water management.

The local population of the village of Demmer has been organized in a ‘communal’ system that guaranteed it a certain coherence and a ‘know-how’ of living together, that covered almost all aspects of life, from the rules of grazing and the conservation of resources, including management of alliances, marriage, heritage and conflict resolution. Without being ideal or devoid of inequality and injustice, this communal coherence managed to insure a permanence of life, and an evident durability and has prevented any dramatic socio-spatial breakdown or a premature desertification.

The set of traditional and artisanal rules, know-hows, techniques, technologies and practices that respect the environment and protect the biodiversity proved and guaranteed an indisputable durability. It lasted till the mid-fifties of the last century, when the external factors came to undermine the most solid foundations and launch a dangerous process of physical and human desertification.

Demmer is an isolated place. However this isolation is not an absolute rupture with the rest of the world, and Demmer suffers, like the rest of the planet from the global phenomena and processes, sometimes even in a more ‘violent’ way than in big cities. The phenomena linked to modernity, whether technical, technological, social, ‘cultural’ and even religious, is usually lived in these isolated spaces in a collectively dramatic way, even if in some instances, this modernity could be of collateral benefit those whose way of life is destroyed in the process.

This opening on the ‘modern’ world is unquestionably accompanied by the disruption and disappearance of the technical, technological, social and cultural local heritage. The film wants to preserve this heritage by raising awareness of its deep wisdom and capture it on film with the prospect of using the document in the future as reference in the probable case of total erosion of the socio-ecological system.

By stressing, highlighting and documenting the genius of management of resources in the village of Demmer, the film is a contribution to the many debates around the consequences – direct and/or indirect – of development policies, whether successful or failing, on the local populations and the isolated and/or forgotten regions. But beyond the specific questions to Demmer and its population, this film is about the reflection on the sense, advantages and consequences, sometimes dramatic, of modernity and particularly the consequences of the dominant discourses and models of development.

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