Kokota: The Islet of Hope

29 min. Cinema Guild. 2017. $99.95. ISBN 0781515726.
Gr 7 Up—Kokota is a very small island located off the coast of Tanzania. In the near past, it had a small, self-sustaining community of fisherman and farmers. Over time, the once ample forests were cut down to make room for an expanding population and for use in cooking and heating. However, deforestation led to poor soil quality and climate change brought about droughts. The once abundant supply of fish diminished drastically. With no schools nor medical care and a severe shortage of water and food, the island was on the verge of collapse. Mbarouk Mussa Omar, from the neighboring island of Pemba, recognized that his island was following Kokota's destructive path. A chance meeting with Jeff Schnurr, a young Canadian forest expert, led to a plan of simple actions. In the course of one year, 100,000 tree seedlings were planted on Kokota. The resulting trees increased the health of the soil and contributed new food crops. A project to collect rain for fresh drinking water incorporated the building of a school. A more sustainable approach to fishing increased the fish harvests and solar batteries reduced the need for the burning of wood. This inspiring short film emphasizes that simple solutions to worldwide problems are possible and necessary. Much of the dialogue is in Swahili with subtitles, and the film's message is clearly understood. The ability of a small African community to adapt behaviors to survive hardships brought about by global warming will inspire viewers.
VERDICT Useful in science and environmental studies classes.

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