Sahel stories: Ethiopia

June 30, 2008

Excerpts from At the Desert’s Edge

Read about: Kebede Bantiwalu (Male, 75 years), from Cherecha, Adis Alem.
With the present ban on hunting, we farmers are having to stay around our farms the whole day long, just to protect our crops – because a herd of pigsor troop of baboons can completely destroy our fields in a few hours.

Sahel stories: Mali

June 27, 2008

Excerpts from At the Desert’s Edge

Read about: Se’e Dembélè (Male, 70 years), from Tana
We have benefited from new equipment. Now we believe we must place our trust in them because we realize we cannot begin to redress the damage done without their help

Sahel stories: Chad

June 25, 2008

Excerpts from At the Desert’s Edge

Read about: Elisabeth Nadjiyo (Female, 45 years), from Mara
Our ground never refuses to accept what we plant. Even if it is tired it still does its best to produce a small amount. “

Sahel stories: Burkina Faso

June 24, 2008

Excerpts from At the Desert’s Edge

Read about: Kabré Gomtenga (Female, 70 years), Samné Goama (Female, 40 years), Roamba Tampoko (Female, 40 years), from Saponé
We have no methods of contraception other than abstinence. Women try to wait three years between each child.”

Oral Histories from the Sahel

June 24, 2008

Summary

The stories of the Sahel, told by those who have long lived in the region, and who relate a lifetime of changes. These oral accounts, used with permission, are from “At the Desert’s Edge: Oral Histories from the Sahel” published by SOS Sahel and the Panos Institute.

The Sahel Oral History Project, conducted in 1989 and 1990 by the UK-based voluntary organisation SOS Sahel, involved interviews with approximately 650 men and women from 8 Sahelian countries. The book which resulted – At the Desert’s Edge – was produced in partnership with the Panos Institute. By talking with farmers, pastoralists, refugees, and others, researchers hoped to gain a better understanding of traditional land-use practice, land tenure, farming and pastoral systems, the causes of desertification, and many other aspects of Sahelian life.

Featuring a selected number of oral histories, the book explores the culture, history, and environment of the Sahel through the memories and recollections of its people. The interviews – most of whom feature rural, elderly, illiterate Sahelians – cast light on questions like: What was the way of life in the past? How and why has the land come to its present, desertified state? How and why do Sahelian farmers and nomads keep going in the face of such odds? What specific kinds of indigenous knowledge have been developed to improve life? The stories are identified by the person’s name and age and divided by country: Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Sudan, and Ethiopia. The collection, which might be a source of reference for development workers, teachers, and journalists, highlights the changing ecological conditions, conservation practices, traditional medicines, and agricultural practices of this part of Africa.

I am going to post selected quotations from the story tellers. Contributions, comments and discussions are welcome. I hope we can all learn from these experiences.

Water management in Siketi – Clean water and university studies

June 19, 2008

Siketi, his home village, was known for its water resources even before the war, with plentiful ground-water reserves discovered near the village in the 1980s. The Ministry of Water dug an eight-meter well four meters in diameter. Whenever water shortages have struck the capital city, as during the drought of 1984/85, up to 30 trucks a day, each with a 13-cubic-meter tank, carried Siketi’s water to Asmara.
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Solomon, or “The slightly different farmer”

June 19, 2008

Only a few small-scale farmers in and around Adi Behnuna irrigate their small parcels of land. But Solomon Ghebrekidan is one of them. During a three-week local visit while producing the Adi Behnuna Community Profile, I was able to have a long talk with Solomon. Among other things, this “slightly different farmer” explained to me how and why he started irrigating his fields.
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Trade Reforms Can Cut Food Prices

June 19, 2008

The causes of rising food prices are reasonably well-established. The consequences are daily becoming more apparent, especially in Africa. What is less well-understood is the implications a successful conclusion to the World Trade Organization’s Doha Round of negotiations on a new trade deal might have for African agriculture and consumers of food.
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Implications of the Food Crisis for Long-term Agricultural Development

June 19, 2008

The prices of maize, wheat, rice, and other crops have more than doubled over the past two years. These price hikes have been catalyzed by various factors including the rising cost of oil, biofuel subsidies in the US and Europe, the depreciation of the US dollar, the prolonged drought in Australia, and restrictions on the export of rice and wheat by various countries including Vietnam, India, Russia and Argentina.
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Nanotechnology, Food, Agriculture and Development

June 19, 2008

Imagine eating foods without absorbing harmful allergens and cholesterol into your body. Imagine farmlands in developing countries with environmental sensors that automatically release pesticides and fertilizers only when absolutely necessary. Imagine going to your nearest market and being able to modify the foods you purchase to suit your nutritional needs and tastes. The first two concepts are fast becoming a reality. The third appears to be on the horizon. These are some of the revolutionary means by which nanotechnology* promises to transform the way we grow, process, and eat food.
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