Deserts of Italy, tourist guide on the effects of drought

An initiative that comes to life as part of Finish’s ‘Water in our hands’ project with the contribution of photographer Gabriele Galimberti

A tour guide who talks about the effects of desertification in Italy. Is called Tourist Guide to the Deserts of Italy and comes to life in the context of Finish ‘Water in our hands’ project with the contribution of photographer Gabriele Galimbertiwinner in 2021 of the World Press Photo, who has traveled during the past months, with his collaborator Camilla Miliani, with the aim of document and tell anomalous ‘tourist destinations’ for our country, in the process of desertification (PHOTO).

A journey along the boot that lasted throughout the summer and whose photos, interviews and descriptions gave life to the guide, in paper and digital format and full of details and tourist advice, which invites people to visit these territories : rivers that have become trekking paths, lakes reduced to arid expanses, landscapes that no one would expect to see and which, instead, are real. After all, the data, as well as the images, tell it, with 70% of Sicily, 57% of Puglia, 58% of Molise and 55% of Basilicata at risk of desertification. The areas photographed by Gabriele Galimberti, winner of the World Press Photo in 2021 with the project ‘The Ameriguns’, directly concern Sicily, Abruzzo, Marche, Tuscany, Lombardy, Umbria, Emilia-Romagna and Molise, with a particular focus on rivers and lakes.

This initiative is part of the ‘Water in our hands’ project, which in recent years has developed a deep commitment on the issue of protecting the water resource, with concrete projects in the area aimed at supporting agriculture and fighting, thanks to interventions targeted and to support technology, desertification. With this in mind, some initiatives have recently been presented to support the planting and cultivation of the olive tree, a plant that is fundamental for maintaining the correct environmental balance and a natural barrier against desertification.

The intervention, carried out in Puglia, one of the regions with the greatest risk of desertification (57% of the territory), saw the direct planting of over 500 trees resistant to the Xylella bacterium in land now disused due to desertification and a monitoring intervention water supply of crops on a total of 500 hectares distributed in the province of Brindisi, which will guarantee annual savings (considering the 20 weeks of summer season) of over 150 million liters of water. To support this intervention, the use of technology. In continuity with what has been done in the past, in fact, the innovative ‘Daiki’ technology of SmartIsland was installed, a Sicilian startup selected in 2021 as part of a dedicated Call for Startup, which is able to detect, right from the moment of planting , climatic and water data useful for monitoring the water needs of plants, managing the irrigation supply and preventing diseases.

Each of us, then, in his daily life, can do his part and make a concrete contribution, even at home. For example, using a fully loaded washing machine and dishwasher, reusing water and wetting flowers and plants with water used for other purposes, watering fields and gardens in the evening and avoiding rinsing dishes by hand before putting them in the dishwasher. A simple gesture that contributes to saving 38L of water with each wash and that has determined important results in the preservation of the water resource in recent years.

Today, among the owners of dishwashers (17.0 million in Italy), there is a significant improvement in the percentage of those who no longer rinse their dishes by hand before putting them in the dishwasher (33%), with an increase of 3% compared to 2021 and 7% compared to 2020. All this translates into an increase of a further 600,000 families who have chosen to adopt this behavior (+1,300,000 families in two years). Therefore, with a water saving of 38 liters at each wash, by calculating the average use of the machine in a week (4.56 times), an additional saving of over 5.3 billion liters of water is determined in a year ( 11.3 billion in two years), which corresponds to a figure of approximately 2,100 Olympic swimming pools (4,600 in two years).