The University of Iowa

WorldCanvass Topic for March 25 is Starving for Water

March 2nd, 2011

Host Joan Kjaer blends discussions of culture, history, literature, language, politics and art with live musical performances, all in an effort to illustrate and illuminate the complexities that make us distinct from one another while celebrating our common humanity. The live productions take place from 5-7 p.m. one Friday a month in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol Museum on the campus of the University of Iowa and are free and open to the public.  NOTE: NEW LOCATION THIS MONTH!  Room 2780 University Capitol Centre.

Produced by International Programs at the University of Iowa, WorldCanvass® explores topics that are international in scope and central to our understanding of ourselves as part of the global landscape.

“There is a water crisis today. But the crisis is not about having too little water to satisfy our needs. It is a crisis of managing water so badly that billions of people – and the environment – suffer badly.” - World Water Vision Report

Water and its relationship to the environment, global health, development and the rights of individuals and communities will be the topic of the next WorldCanvass on Friday, March 25 in Rm. 2780 of the University Capitol Centre.  The event begins at 5:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

The program begins with a performance of “Animal Songs” by UI School of Music faculty members Stephen Swanson, baritone, and David Gompper, piano.   This song cycle, featuring musical depictions of some of the world’s most beloved animals, highlights the diversity in the animal world and serves as a reminder that all living things need water and a healthy planet to survive. 

Climate, geography and water will be the focus when Bob Libra of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Rob Quick of the Centers for Disease Control take the stage.  Libra will give us an overview of Iowa’s water resources and challenges.  Quick will follow up with the CDC’s global water health perspective. 

Anthropologist and filmmaker Laura Graham will discuss her work with Amazonian Indians and the film “Owners of the Water: Conflict and Collaboration over Rivers” which documents water problems in two different areas of South America.   In one case, there’s too little water; in the other, there’s plenty of water but it’s become contaminated by agrichemicals used in the cultivation of soy crops.  In both cases, water is a societal and environmental problem of immense proportions.

Viraj Thacker, a native of Nepal and author of “The Myth of Prosperity: Globalization and the South,” will share his perspectives on globalization and development processes that, in his view, have led to the unsustainable depletion of finite resources like water. Thacker is also the International Executive Director for Manushi for Sustainable Development, a national level NGO based in Kathmandu, Nepal with over 15 years of experience in sustainable development, gender, environmental governance and social justice.

We’ll hear about the impact of catastrophic events on global health, water and food supplies from Dr. Chris Buresh, a clinical assistant professor in the UI Carver College of Medicine and associate director of the residency program in emergency medicine at the UI Hospitals and Clinics.   Buresh has conducted medical missions in Haiti for many years and has been especially active in Haiti since the earthquake devastated the country in 2010.

In our final segment, we look to the future by examining food health, hope and solutions with Matt Ohloff, the Iowa-based organizer of Food and Water Watch; Alexandra Douglas, the program manager for the Friends Women’s Association, a grassroots women’s clinic in Burundi; and Cliff Missen, director of the WiderNet project and founder of Wellspring Africa, a nonprofit designed to help villagers become more self-sufficient by using an ancient drilling technology.

Download this program for free on itunes.