American Univesity of Beirut

We made every living thing from water: A documentary about the political economy of water in Lebanon

At a time when climate change warnings are disregarded, and short-term economic development projects are prioritized at the expense of environmental wellbeing, the management of water resources, particularly in water-scarce regions like the Middle East, has become an alarming issue of national security.

In order to bring attention to this emerging issue, the Environmental Health Department at the Faculty of Health Sciences in the American University of Beirut organized a screening of a new documentary entitled “We made every living thing from water" at the Issam Fares Institute on Tuesday, February 27th, 2018. More than 100 students and members of the AUB community gathered to watch this documentary, and participated in a series of Q&A's over this sensitive topic.  

Dr. Rima Habib, Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental Health, stated: “this documentary on the political economy of water provides evidence that the understanding of water management and related issues in Lebanon cannot be achieved without adopting a multidisciplinary research approach that observes the political, social, economic, and cultural factors influencing the management of water resources".

In this documentary, independent journalist Paul Cochrane and researcher Dr. Karim Eid-Sabbagh investigate the political economy of water in Lebanon – how the flow of water is shaped by power and capital. Filmed in the wake of the July 2015 trash crisis, the film highlights the dangerous impact that environmental degradation is having on the country and its water resources, and how in the face of governmental disregard for ecological concerns the public is starting to mobilize in order to protect a common resource.

The 40-minute documentary shows how politics, sectarianism, development agencies and economics produce a specific management, and mismanagement, of Lebanon's water resources. Interviews with various stakeholders underline the ecological and health effects of the dramatic deterioration in quality and the unsustainable water use patterns that are the result of the private sector focused policies of the government and aid agencies.

This documentary is part of the activities sponsored by the 'Agriculture, Environment, and Health' Network, through funding from the International Development Research Centre to the Department of Environmental Health.

Dr. Habib added, “through the establishment of a multidisciplinary research network on 'Agriculture, Environment and Health', the Department of Environmental Health reached out to scholars from various disciplines including Anthropology, Geography, Political Science, Economics, Journalism, and other disciplines, to research problems in the management of water resources and the linkages with the recent garbage crisis in the Lebanon". ​

A detailed report on the documentary and water security in Lebanon featured in the Daily Star newspaper, in the 1st of March issue. 

Click HERE for more.​​

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