tv Global 3000 PBS January 26, 2018 7:30pm-8:01pm PST
announcer: opportunity. prosperity. optimimism. nile. for many ethiopians, the river's water is sacred. and soon, it'll provide power to the country, too. which is what many egyptians, further downstream, are afraid of. the nile is the country's lifeline. but first, we head to china, where migrant workers are being ousted from cities en masse. where will they go? migrant workers make up a third of china's labor force. they are people who leave their villages and head to the
metropolises in the hope of finding a decent job. for years they were absorbed into city life -- after all, they were a key factor in china's economic miracle. but many are still treated as third class citizens, and aren't even officially registered. it's estimated that there are 282 million migrant workers across china. beijing's population alone has trebled over the past 25 years. authorities say it's too much. they want millions of the migrant workers to leave. reporter: these migrant workers have been evicted from their homes in xinjian village on the outskirts of beijing. they have to be out by dawn. mr. liu has to find shelter for himself and his workers. he came to beijing 23 years ago, and eventually became the owner of a small textiles workshop. now they have to pack everything into a truck and leave. tomorrow, the building could be demolished.
liu: two weeks ago there was a fire here in one of the buildings. the next day officials came and told us we had three days to leave. i said, three days? that's impossible. we've got no idea where to go. reporter: gas, electricity and water were shut off straight away, despite freezing temperatures outside. officially they say the buildings have to be vacated for fire safety reasons, but the residents suspect something more sinister -- that beijing wants to get rid of its so-called low-end population. daylight reveals where it all began. the fire broke out in this building. 19 people died. after that, the government hastily drew up a 40-day plan to evacuate all the illegal and unsafe buildings and structures in beijing. many believe it's a plan to drive the 10,000 affected out of the city.
wang gangqiang comes from the impoverished province of gansu and works in beijing ironing textiles. wang: we have to be out by this evening. and i really don't know where to go. reporter: a feeling of hopelessness permeates the entire workforce of the factory. many people have been here for decades doing work that people from beijing wouldn't do. they have no rights because no one has a beijing residence permit. now they have just hours to pack their things. zhao: it's not fair. they should have given us more time, at least. niu: i came here in search of a better life, far from my home. i was very ambitious. now i just feel sad. i have no other choice -- i have to go. reporter: on the outskirts of beijing, xinjian village is being demolished.
all that's left is debris and rubble. the old town has been disappearing for months. there's nothing left for the migrant workers who built themselves a life here. it's caused an uproar among the beijing population. but the photos and videos uploaded by bloggers quickly disappear from the internet -- censored by the state. one group uses an online map to show where the evictions are taking place across beijing. they call it a map of fire protection measures as a way to avoid censorship. support groups have also sprung up, like here in west beijing. an artist group wants to turn their cellars into accommodation for the migrant workers, to give a bed and shelter to these people who give so much to the city.
liu: the workers have established small convenience stores in our neighborhood, like the fruit vendor and the little shop on the corner. they make our lives more comfortable. reporter: these offers of support are being closely monitored by the government, because they're afraid that criticism could lead to protests. this small village lies in hebei, the neighboring province of beijing. migrant worker liu and his employees are staying here temporarily, but they're not really welcome. in the village, there are even official announcements warning not to rent to textile companies because of the fire risk. >> for the 2008 olympic games, beijing said everyone was welcome, even us. now we've just been discarded, it's so cruel. reporter: since the evictions in
beijing, liu has only secured himself a temporary refuge. the next step is still unclear. liu: we made a life in beijing as migrant workers, because we had no better option. now we just get thrown out wherever we are. there's nowhere for us to go. reporter: no space among the 22 million residents in beijing. in 2016, the government initiated plans to make cities cleaner and more livable. beijing set a target to reduce the population by nearly two million people -- starting with the most vulnerable. host: and it's the most vulnerable who generally lack access to clean water, too -- as many as 2.1 billion people worldwide. around 263 million people have
to walk at least 30 minutes every day just to access water at all. and 159 million get their water straight from lakes and rivers. the world's longest rivers, in fact, ensure the livelihood and survival of billions of people. rivers like the nile. for many in egypt, it's their only source of water. reporter: ahmed abdel hadi has been rowing on the nile for as long as he can remember. when he's on the river, the commotion of cairo seems far away. close to 23 million people live in greater cairo. egypt's capital is expanding, and so is its population -- by around two million people a year. almost the entire population of egypt lives close to the nile --
and drinks from it, too. the river is egypt's lifeline. ahmed: it's the center line in my life, i think in all egyptian's lives. without the river nile, egypt is just a desert. just a desert. that's it. for me, without the river nile, my life would be just a desert. reporter: egypt is mainly made up of barren wasteland -- sand and stones. the nile provides 95% of the country's water supply. fields are irrigated with water from the nile. ahmed, the rower, is an agricultural consultant. farmers share their worries with him.
mohammed: if the water go down, egypt will be a desert. an old civilization, like old ancient egypt, the nile valley. if this goes down, it would be a catastrophe. reporter: many fear that this is exactly what could happen when the grand ethiopian dam upriver is completed. egypt would not have as much water for irrigation. ahmed: if you stop irrigating, the salty water will get up, and you will be affected for many years. if you keep growing the land, you won't have any problem. but if you stop, if you have no water for some time, you will have a problem, and the problem will stay with you. reporter: here in the nile delta, there are wide canals, and water seems plentiful. this is a fertile area, but
people don't appreciate how valuable natural resources are. rubbish floats on the water. although egypt is already dealing with water shortages, farmers often use an ancient irrigation method -- they completely flood their fields. hassan el sayed cranks up his water pump. experts say this old-fashioned method of irrigation wastes much too much water. the solution would be that farmers like hassan should learn how to save water. water shortages in the summer months are nothing new. hassan, however, blames it all on the ethiopian dam. hassan: the dam is already having an impact. this canal always used to be full and i didn't need a pump. there's clearly less water now.
reporter: kirsten nyman is from the giz. the german development agency is providing support to a farm school in the nile delta. these farmers don't just need to save water, but must learn to grow more food with less of it. egypt's population is growing dramatically -- there are two million more mouths to feed every year. even small changes can have major consequences. kirsten: any drop in water levels will have an impact, whether it's because of the dam, population growth, or climate change. it will affect the soil, and farmers will have to learn to deal with that in order to secure their future. reporter: as soon as ethiopia starts filling its new giant reservoir, there will be less water for egypt. according to ahmed, the agricultural consultant, no one is quite sure how much less or
for how long. but one thing is certain -- there will be less, not more water. at the moment, egypt imports around 60% of its food stuffs. but the country can't really afford any more expensive imports. >> i think we need to get more of everything. more housing, more food, more water. not less water. so, less water with the same equation would be catastrophic. reporter: when ahmed is rowing on the nile, he's removed from the commotion and the hubbub of cairo. but as soon as he's back, he's confronted with the fact that the nile -- egypt's life-line for all of history -- may soon dwindle to a shadow of its former self. host: and this mighty river is not just a lifeline for egypt,
either. the white nile and blue nile join in sudan, and the nile continues its journey northwards towards the mediterranean. today, this waterway provides around 300 million people in five different countries with water. but by 2030, the region's population is forecast to reach 396 million. will the nile still be able meet all their water needs? especially given that africa's largest dam is currently being built in ethiopia. reporter: beyond this simple string barrier lies one of the most sacred locations in ethiopia. only orthodox christian males, who are fasting and barefoot, are allowed past. the legendary source of the blue nile, or gish abay as it's called here, is off-limits for all others. some 100 kilometers downriver, the precious waters flow into
lake tana -- the largest lake in ethiopia. one of the many orthodox monasteries which dot this region is located on a small island in the middle of the lake -- debre maryam. belief in the power of the river's water draws pilgrims to debre maryam as well. priest eshete medhem was born and raised on the banks of the abay river. eshete: abay means life to me. not only because the water is holy, but also because the church on this island gives me work. the church and the river are closely entwined. people come here to be cured. once upon a time the nile's waters even raised some from the dead. reporter: a river so powerful, people even ascribe miracles to it. 30 kilometers south of lake
tana, the blue nile falls are africa's second biggest. the falls are themselves a miracle in ethiopia, a country generally notorious for drought and hunger. time appears to have stood still in the impoverished highlands. further south, the blue nile bends westwards, heading towards the sudanese border, where it will be used to provide the country with electricity. 40 kilometers before the river reaches sudan, a huge dam and hydraulic power station are taking shape on africa's biggest construction site. 10,000 workers toil here day and night. the grand ethiopian renaissance dam was supposed to be completed last year, but it's behind schedule. ethiopia intends using the blue nile's physical power to end its dependence on international development aid. tenalem: africans can make a
difference. africa is a resourceful continent. africa has all the potential to develop. so that's -- we have to look inwards. if we think that way, then we can change our continent. i think it's an eye-opener to the continent, i can say. reporter: at over 1800 square kilometers, the dam's reservoir will cover an area three times the size of lake constance. its power station will generate over 6000 megawatts. that will supply all of ethiopia's electricity needs, with some left over for export to generate some income as well. project manager simegnew bekele says the dam is good for the soul of a country that the world underestimates.
we know that we are poor, and we have committed ourselves to come out of this poverty level. reporter: it's an expensive way of tackling poverty, especially without foreign funding. ethiopia's government is financing the mammoth $5 billion dam out of the country's own pockets. quite literally -- because there wasn't enough cash available in the treasury, civil servants' pay was withheld -- ostensibly on a voluntary basis. public donations and lotteries also channeled money into the project's coffers. simegnew: this is a project that will benefit others equally as it will benefit ethiopia. and we know this is a historic river. we have a strong relationship to the downstream countries. they are our brothers, they're our sisters. we are constructing this project in a responsible and professional manner.
reporter: that may well be, but downstream, sudan and egypt are fearful the dam will restrict the nile's flow. for ethiopians though, the new dam is not only a symbol of national rebirth, it's nothing short of a modern wonder of the world. host: and now it's time for global ideas, when we meet people dedicated to protecting our planet's wildlife. this time we're off to meet some pink dolphins. we joined a very special expedition in brazil. for the first time, scientists are researching these mammals along with their habitat. reporter: gotcha! researchers have just captured an amazon river dolphin mother and her calf in a branch of the river in brazil's juruena national park. the team says it's all for their own good. everyone's focused.
this world wide fund for nature-led expedition is the first to land the animals, which will be given a medical examination and fitted with gps transmitters. marcelo: we know very little about the pink river dolphin species. we know a few things about their distribution, but nothing at all about their numbers, their health, their blood values, parasites, or if they have been exposed to toxins. reporter: the animals are given a thorough check-up. the unprecedented project is a cooperation between vets, marine biologists, fishermen, and conservationists. they have to work fast because the dolphins can only survive on land for a short time. no pink river dolphin has ever had an ultrasound scan before -- it presents a challenge even for the vet. and whilst the mother is undergoing tests, her baby has already been weighed and measured.
after nearly an hour, it's time to return the animals to their natural element. [applause] miriam: it was a complete success -- the team was exemplary. a few adjustments might have to be made, but it was the first time. and it was a mother and her calf, which makes things more difficult, but they stayed calm. everything worked out perfectly. they've already swum out, but without a transmitter, unfortunately. the next one won't get away. reporter: the fishermen come from the nearby village of sao manoel da barra. the people here live with and
from the river -- they're just as dependent on clean water as the dolphins. with hardly any jobs available in the heart of amazonia, many leave the villages. not everyone can work in the local shop. some try their hand gold prospecting -- often illegally. >> it's how i survive. it's all i've got -- panning for gold. when the gold mines on land closed down, things got bad here. there's a bit of tourism, but that's not enough for everyone. the only thing left for me to do is look for gold. reporter: slag heaps left by mining barges are everywhere, even right next to a nature reserve. the barges pump gold-bearing mud and gravel up from the riverbed.
it's collected in mats where it is then sifted by hand. the noise is deafening, and there are hardly any safety measures in place. is it dangerous? guido: look at this -- it happened while i was changing the suction pipe on the pump. parts are all heavy, and if you aren't focused on what you're doing, it's easy to have an accident. reporter: even more dangerous, especially for the environment, is the mercury used to extract the gold from the water. it enters the food chain in waste water, eventually reaching humans and dolphins. the wwf team wants to find out how it affects the animals. marcelo: we know very little about the effects of mercury on animal organisms. there are findings about the
effects on people -- damage to organs and the central nervous system -- but we know next to nothing about its effects on wild animals. ultrasound and blood tests as well as tissue samples. we want to find out how the toxin functions. reporter: the increasing number of dams and hydroelectric plants are also a threat to the dolphins. marcelo: separation caused by the presence of power stations is the main problem. they pose a barrier to genetic exchange. a male and a female can't breed if they're kept apart by a dam. reporter: this time the team is determined to attach a gps transmitter to a dolphin. it can take hours to net one. and then they still often mange to escape. research into river dolphins in colombia and bolivia is also underway, with other countries to follow. the wwf hopes to build a
database of dolphin health throughout all of amazonia. most of the animals here are relatively small and lean -- none weighs over 70 kilos. breathing and heart rate are constantly monitored. this examination runs more smoothly. inside half an hour the tests are complete, and a gps transmitter is attached to the dolphin's dorsal fin, which consists almost entirely of cartilage. miriam: the animals do feel what we're doing to them. but for the invasive interventions, the biopsies and attaching the transmitter, they're given a local anesthetic. reporter: the dolphin will be released back into the open water as quickly as possible.
the wwf hopes the project will help to get the pink river dolphin onto its list of threatened species, to better protect them and their biosphere. back in the water, the erstwhile captive's buddies are there to welcome it home. host: and that's all for today. but we love hearing from you, so do write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on facebook. bye for now. see you soon. ♪ [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] announcer: opportunity.
this program is made possible in part by the town of marion, home of the wayne henderson school of appalachian arts, celebrating 21 years as a certified virginia main street community. the historic general francis marion hotel and the speak easy restaurant and lounge, providing accommodations and casual fine dining. in downtown marion, virginia. the bank of marion. technology powered, service driven. wbrf 98.1 fm. bryant label, a proud supporter of our region's musical heritage. ("cherokee shuffle" by gerald anderson)
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