Robert Redford and Will Ferrell Ludicrously Debate How to Help the Colorado River Delta Fun way to tackle a dry subject

Robert Redford and Will Ferrell use some new tactics to get attention to the dried up Colorado delta.

the goal of the video is to attract attention to Redfords organization to bring the Colorado delta back to life. On their website they write:

If we can add a relatively small amount of water to the Colorado — less than 1% of its annual flow — we’ll be on our way to restoring 2,300 acres of forest and marsh along a 70-mile stretch of river, generating rural economic activities and job opportunities for local people, including river restoration, tourism, recreational hunting, and sport and commercial fisheries.

Help us breathe life back into the Delta and let’s watch it grow.

Our goal is to raise $10 million by 2017.

The money will be used to conduct essential restoration work, such as putting native trees in the ground, and for the purchase of permanent water rights dedicated to the Delta.

In meeting our goal, we will rebuild the habitats that support local communities and wildlife.

The Delta is the most broken reach of the Colorado. If we can fix the Delta, we can demonstrate that no place is beyond hope.

Join us in rewriting history. Let’s raise the river.

Here on Disputed Waters you can read Olivier’s article ‘Those who lived on the river‘ for a personal insight into (former) life in the delta.

Ronald de Hommel - Blog


Getting to the Ukrainian Danube Delta

Ismail – It`s very close, but still a long long way from Romania (EU!) to Ukraine (NOT EU!!!). Three days ago Johannes and I took an adventurous trip from Galati on the Romanian Danube to Ismail, a dreary port town on the Ukrainian part of the Danube, where the economy seems to have come to a standstill. In order to get to Ukraine, one has to walk (!!!) through another country: Moldova, for one and a half kilometres. Then you get to Reni, a dusty Ukrainian town, from where it is still 70 kilometres to Ismail, hometown of the driver of this beautiful Lada. So, here comes the question of the day: who is older, the driver or the Lada?

Photo’s by Johannes Abeling

Jeroen Kuiper - Blog


Deadliest Catch in the Khone Falls

Deadliest Catch is a hugely popular TV series on Discovery Channel. This reality show portrays the tough men of crab fishing vessels on the Bering Sea. I wonder if these daredevils would still be so tough if they had to jump in the raging Khone Falls for a handful of fish. Because that’s the daily routine for some fishermen in Southern Laos.

As the sun starts to set over the 4000 Islands in southern Laos, Ronald and I start to worry we might be in the wrong place at the wrong time. A couple of fish traps, constructed of wood and bamboo, indicates that there must be some sort of fishing activities going on, but we’ve been here since three o’clock in the afternoon and so far we haven’t seen a living soul.

Just as we’re about to give up and head back to our guesthouse (even in broad daylight, the bike ride across the muddy island of Don Khone is a risky undertaking) a few Lao fishermen emerge from the jungle. The game is on.

From the shore it’s impossible to tell if any of the cages contain fish. So the fishermen take a big leap and holding on to a rope with one arm they use the other to check the traps for fish. If they lose grip, the violent falls will sweep them away instantly.

After dangling in the stream for almost ten minutes, one of the fishermen raises his arm, triumphantly showing us a humongous catfish. His colleagues break out in joyful exclamations, excited as they are about this big meal. A little later they are back on the shore, proudly weighing their catch of the day. It’s a solid nine kilograms. In a cheerful mood they make for their way home, where they will undoubtedly celebrate their success with cigarettes and a big bottle of Lau Lao, the locally distilled whiskey.

Risking your life in the Khone Falls just to catch a daily meal seems to me like a rather extreme way of life. And these guys are no TV celebrities, they don’t drive fancy cars and nobody is asking for their autographs. To me, however, this truly is the Deadliest Catch.

Camera and edit by André van der Stouwe

The catch: a nine kilo Mekong Catfish. Photo by: Ronald de Hommel

André van der Stouwe - Blog

Aerial views of Tonle Sap Lake

Extreme flooding in the Mekong Basin

This year’s flood has submerged too much land. It’s good for the fish, but not for the farmers and fishermen.

Correction: According to Prof. Chavalit Vidthayanon, fishery expert of the Mekong River Commission, this flooding may actually cause the spread of invasive non native species from fish farms. This may endanger local fish species.

André and I have been on the road along the Mekong River in the past 2 weeks. We revisited some places on the Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia that we visited last May already. It was great to see with our own eyes the huge difference in water level between the dry season and the wet season. Unfortunately for the local population this wet season brought the highest flood in 11 years, submerging whole villages that normally stay dry and even flooding the center of tourist city Siem Reap near Angkor Wat.


In a way the extremely high water this year does not illustrate the story we want to tell which is the benefits of the fluctuating waters in the lake. The high water is the time that billions of fish spawn in the lake. The flooded land that is covered in bushes, forests and rice fields provides a safe haven for the young fish. Without the flooding this safe haven disappears, seriously affecting the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of fisher families. But when you ask these families right now, they complain about the high water that floods their houses and disperses the fish temporarily making it hard to catch enough for daily sustenance.

The floating villages in the Tonle Sap Lake were not much affected by the extra high flood. Their location, though, was many kilometres from where we encountered them a few months ago. 

We did manage to take aerial photos this time. Last time the weather was too unpredictable. This time it was a close call too. We had rain and thunderstorms every day. But the first morning we had in Siem Reap we took a flight at seven in the morning, the light did fade away a little behind the clouds during our round trip over two floating villages. Be we managed to produce some good pictures and some great video.  The days after we didn’t have any good mornings or evenings anymore.

It was our most expensive fight so far 35 minutes in a helicopter for US$ 1000. But it was a great experience and looking at the images it was worth it. Thanks to all our financial backers we managed to do this.  Thank you very much, your contributions made the difference!


In a few weeks we will have a great series on the Mekong map.

Ronald de Hommel - Blog


The river Rhine from above


Last friday I flew above the Rhine in Germany in an ultra light airplane.
Because I had to photograph through a tiny hole in the window, it was not that easy. But it was a lot cheaper than renting a helicopter.
From the air you can see the old Rhine meandering around the canalized Rhine.
This canalized Rhine is good for transportation, but can cause heavier floodings downstream.

Johannes Abeling - Blog


The Red Disaster, One Year After

Tomorrow exactly one year ago, on Monday October 4th 2010, near the small town of Devecser in Hungary a large reservoir of aluminum bauxite waste collapsed and approximately one million cubic meters of toxic waste poured out polluting the town and many kilometres of nature and agricultural land. Most of it ended up in a small river delivering the toxic waste to the Danube. The pollution was 70 times as bad as the Erika disaster (the greatest pollution scandal in France).

Almost one million cubic meters of Toxic red mud swept all aquatic life and killed at least nine people and wounding more than 120, many with chemical burns. The flood of 12 meters high passed several towns, sweeping away cars and houses and drenching the soil.

Six months later in May 2011 our French friend and colleague photographer Pieter-Jan Louis visited the site. He encountered a virtual ghost town. The pollution was less concentrated but extended by the dust cover. In the small rural villages police was posted every kilometer denying access to the most sensitive areas. Pieter-Jan had to hide several times in order to be able to take the photos for his report.

The reception of the people and local associations was itself cold. Nobody wanted to talk to him. Farmers cultivated the land, still red. Fresh red corn hung drying in the ruins. The economy seemed to be picking up even though the red pollution was still ever present.

Go to his images here (English) or To Babel Blog (French).


Ronald de Hommel - Blog


A few teasers of the new Mekong page that is under construction.

Check out the categories Video, Articles and Photo series in the menu for a few examples of the content you’ll see on the new Mekong maps in a few days.

Ronald de Hommel - Blog

Nile River, Ethiopia, August 2011

Farm Stress in Ethiopia

Allright; I admit it: I`m putting this blog online back in Europe after returning from Ethiopia, since internet connections over there were terrible. Still, the country is developing itself really fast, largely unnoticed by western media.

Jeroen Kuiper - Blog


The Mystery Dam

After ending up at the wrong dam yesterday I went on the road again early today to reach the Xiaowan Dam in the morning.

Ronald de Hommel - Blog

Manwan Dam

The wrong Dam!

Today I spent 9 1/2 hours on the road with a guide and driver winding through small mountain roads to reach the Xiaowan Dam, the highest arch dam in the world.

Ronald de Hommel - Blog