The Osa region of Costa Rica is the country’s last frontier, with a wealth of biodiversity, largely intact forests, healthy populations of jaguars and prey species and a wide array of protected areas. Here, ecotourism is still booming – beaches are pristine and the rainforest drips with life. Threats loom, however, as large-scale, unplanned and often destructive development jeopardizes these resources and those who depend on them.
In Nuestras Aguas, Nuestra Vida, CAVU, together with partner The Nature Conservancy, addresses the effects of unplanned development on water resources in the coastal towns of Uvita and Bahia, and the Parque Marino Ballena in the canton of Osa. Construction of second homes and condominiums in the watersheds above the park has denuded hillsides of trees and led to extreme siltation and erosion. Traditional water supplies, including springs and aquifers, have been destroyed, sometimes permanently, in the process.
The 26-minute film encourages grassroots activism as a primary tool in defending natural resources, and gives residents an opportunity to voice solutions and a path towards more sustainable development in the future. The complex scientific, economic and political issues are dealt with critically, and fairly.
CAVU takes viewers high above the Fila Costeña mountain range for a look at the destruction, then back to the ground, where scientists and water resource managers in the region explain in clear terms why such large-scale, uncontrolled development could lead to a water shortages and water contamination in the future.
The marine life of Parque Marino Ballena, the region’s major tourist attraction and economic driver, is also threatened, as erosion and contamination runs downhill to the sea.
CAVU’s production team arrived in Uvita in March, just as the community water board, or ASADA, announced emergency rationing. In the days that followed, the team filming the reactions of dozens of residents as they were informed of the shortage, then discussed potential ramifications with tourism guides, hotel owners, park directors and concerned citizens.
The following week, the team attended an emotional municipal meeting in which hundreds of citizens, developers and officials debated the pros and cons of placing a temporary moratorium on development, in an effort to sort out the issues before a true crisis emerges.
Shortly after production, the CAVU team screened a preliminary, “field-cut” version of Nuestras Aguas, Nuestra Vida in the Uvita town hall. Hundreds turned out to enjoy food, drink and dancing.
In interviews that followed, many expressed a new ownership and understanding of the water crisis – and said they felt more empowered than before to affect change upon their local government.
Over the next few months, CAVU’s team, together with support from The Nature Conservancy, will present the film to schoolchildren and residents of villages throughout the Osa region, in concert with an educational program that focuses on measurable results – gauging citizen understanding before and after viewing the film.
The hope is that this new consciousness of looming environmental problems, together with the constructive solutions and a call to grassroots activism presented in the film, will empower citizens to take control of their own future and development. As always, the message we hope to convey to the stakeholders and residents of Osa is clear: LOCAL ACTION MATTERS!