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The Desert Jihad - Iran

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Uploaded on Nov 2, 2007

March 1998
An evocative piece describing the front-line in Iran's war against desertification.

Nasser Nikpay shows us around an eerie, deserted village, half-buried in the sand. The village is famous for the '120-day' wind. Nasser works for the Jihad-e-Sazandegi Ministry -- which is at war with the ever-encroaching desert. Iranians irrigate their land using qanats, underground channels which carry water from the mountains. But the sand is harder to control. The land can only be cultivated if the shifting sand dunes can be anchored in Place. And the Iranians have come up with a very clever way of keeping the desert from drifting in the wind. It seems like horrific pollution, but petroleum mulch from oil refineries is sprayed with a big gun onto the errant sand. A month later trees are planted. The petroleum mulch prevents the sand moving and the water evaporating. After five years the mulch will be removed, by which time the desert has been miraculously fixed in Place and greenery abounds. Land has already gone to the farmers who need it most for reforestation and cultivation. Now pistachio trees and alfalfa can be grown. A garden blooms with an abundance of pink roses - a testament to the regeneration of the land. Man's ingenuity triumphs over nature and pollution.

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