Behind the Scenes of ‘A New Day’

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Behind the Scenes of ‘A New Day’

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
©IFAD/Chris McMorrow

Working with rural people means going to some of the hardest-to-reach places in the world to support those who live along ‘the last mile’. Here at IFAD, we are used to treacherous paths, long journeys and extreme conditions.

Yet, rarely have we experienced conditions as difficult to work in as those we faced when shooting ‘A New Day’ in Tunisia. It was summer 2022 and temperatures were breaking records, regularly exceeding 35° C. Our shoot days often started as early as 3 a.m. so we could record some footage before our equipment overheated and the torrid weather became unbearable.

In inland locations like Médenine and Siliana, where we’re told it rains just once a year, the sun beat down on the land all day, making it even more arid. It is unbelievable to think that anything can grow in these sweltering conditions.

And yet, small-scale farmers here are doing the nearly impossible: feeding their families and their communities.

Despite being at the frontlines of climate change, their defence systems are surprisingly simple.

One farmer, who is part of the Agropastoral Value Chains Project, showed us how he uses an ancient technique he learned from his own father, called Jessour, whereby rows of rock are placed down a nearby hill to collect the little rainwater there is and direct it towards the olive trees. Another showed us an underground water storage system that collects rainwater for livestock to drink.

“In the Sahara, you're seeing just how extreme some of these temperatures are getting and just how much these farmers are not seeing rain,” explains the film’s award-winning director, Jonathan Pearson. “This is a now problem, not a ten or fifteen years down the line problem.”

Although faced with an enormous challenge, local people are hopeful for the future and determined to lead solutions today so they can secure a better tomorrow.

Reflecting these farmers’ attitudes, the film opens with a sequence of people in darkness and moves into lusher, greener, brighter imagery as it progresses and picks up tempo. The film is sound tracked by Nina Simone’s song ‘Feeling Good’, known for staying positive amid adversity and echoing local people’s energy and warmth.

Small-scale farmers are leading the change, but a better, more resilient future is only possible if we invest in them.

“Hopefully this film will shine a spotlight on what small-scale farmers are facing and the vital work IFAD is doing to support them,” says Pearson. “I hope it goes a ways to getting resources to where they need to be.”

Find out more about the ‘A New Day’ film.

Learn why IFAD is asking its members to step up for rural people.