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Elementary school and eco village in Africa, and I'll take all the suggestions I can get!

 
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Kristina Raza wrote:I love this thread and what you are doing!
It may take a generation but you have a hidden weapon that will make it so much easier to change the minds of those that are negative.
You have a school full of students! They will soak up everything like sponges and soon they will be teaching their families permaculture and defending the trees for you.
I would love to come teach there!



Thanks Kristina!
You're welcome to come teach...do you know French?
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Jeremy,

Happy to meet a fellow worker in Chad! I live straight West of Salamat, so we have the same climate here. I'm excited to hear of your software project. There is a whole lot of information that needs to be brought together to help workers.

Take trees, for instance. I'm a tree guy, and have undertaken to master all the native trees. I've pretty much got all the food species down. There are masters theses on the internet on all of these trees, exploring nutritional value and cultivation. But you have to hunt for them, and dig through them to get to the good ones. There is an incredible wealth of food right here in the bush trees, but they are just not appreciated enough to be cultivated and put into production.

The savonnier tree is one good example (Balanites aegyptiaca). The bark and leaves are used as detergent, the leaves are used as a vegetable, the fruit are sucked on like candy, the almond is bitter, but very nutritious--but the oil? Oh, the oil... I just paid my neighbor to buy several pound of nuts from the Arabs nomads--who are the only people who go through the work of cracking the nuts and selling them. She extracted the oil for me--twelve litres. So delicious. Like the oil you get from melting butter. That used to be the local cooking oil before Westerners introduced peanuts. And if you actually compare the labor, I'm convinced that the savonnier nuts are actually less labor intensive than plowing, planting, weeding, harvesting, drying, and shelling peanut. Plus: it's a tree!!! Growing them will improve the soil rather than impoverish it as well as producing many other products. I must do it.

And that's really my answer to everything: it is unrealistic, exhausting and condescending to tell local people to live differently than they want to. So I'll live differently and teach that to the kids. Some people get curious over time...

Besides, many of our Western initiatives have VERY little benefit. You mention the 'zero defecation in open air' campaign. I have to confess, I'm a sceptic. The alternative to defecation out in the bush is defecation in a latrine. Have you been in one? There's urine all over the ground you have to walk in, and if you shine a flashlight down the hole the blackwater glistens with fly and roach larva. Because the place stays wet the diseases stay alive and are carried by every fly and roach that goes in and out of there--not to mention on my own feet as I leave the place! African latrines are an unmitigated disaster. And think of the lost nutrient! All of that manure that used to be placed in the surrounding fields through open-air defecation (and somewhat sterilized with intense UV rays) now gets encapsulated in a pit, often times lined with brick and ciment.

Personally, I use  humanure compost toilet. Africans will not use that because they wash with water instead of using toilet paper; they would end up with a smelly bucket of slush. So for my guard's family I just dig a very short latrine hole, do not line it with bricks, and simply move the concrete slab to a new hole every year. That way, at least, I can plant a tree in each of those nutrient pits once a year. You should see the tree from two years ago :-) Not to disparage CLTS in general. I'll give it a look-see.

Let me know next time you're in Chad.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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The pit garden terraces are complete. My plan is to lay down loads of weed tree branches, cover that with a thick layer of peanut shells, cover that with dirt and plant lablab in it this year. The heavy  rains over the next four months will do its magic. That should give us some nice thick composty soil for the next school year to start planting trees in.

   


 
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Nathanael Szobody wrote:Jeremy,
...
The alternative to defecation out in the bush is defecation in a latrine. Have you been in one? There's urine all over the ground you have to walk in, and if you shine a flashlight down the hole the blackwater glistens with fly and roach larva. Because the place stays wet the diseases stay alive and are carried by every fly and roach that goes in and out of there--not to mention on my own feet as I leave the place! African latrines are an unmitigated disaster. And think of the lost nutrient! All of that manure that used to be placed in the surrounding fields through open-air defecation (and somewhat sterilized with intense UV rays) now gets encapsulated in a pit, often times lined with brick and ciment.
...




not to mention that all the nutrient (think blue baby syndrome) and pathogen (think anaerobic, the same conditions as in the intestine) flow with the groundwater into the next well with deep pit latrines.

You may be interested by "smart sanitation solutions" https://www.samsamwater.com/library/Smart_Sanitation_Solutions.pdf
The ArborLoo which you use takes the first place, I think in many situations it is the optimal system.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Last day of school! Afterwards some of the kids came over to my place to pick Chaya leaves.

   
 


Stew leaves are the main sort of vegetable eaten here. So, while Chaya is from South America, it fits nicely in the local cuisine. It's also super easy to grow. This is a hedge outside my house that was planted with sticks broken off of a single plant. In fact, all of my Chaya (hundreds now) come from one stick I planted three years ago. It makes good stew, good hedges, fast mulch, nice partial shade for a hot season garden, and a great conversation piece. It will be growing all over the school grounds by next year :-)
 
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Nathanael, keep up the good work and thanks for the updates!

Re: CLTS:

Besides, many of our Western initiatives have VERY little benefit. You mention the 'zero defecation in open air' campaign. I have to confess, I'm a sceptic. The alternative to defecation out in the bush is defecation in a latrine. Have you been in one? There's urine all over the ground you have to walk in, and if you shine a flashlight down the hole the blackwater glistens with fly and roach larva. Because the place stays wet the diseases stay alive and are carried by every fly and roach that goes in and out of there--not to mention on my own feet as I leave the place! African latrines are an unmitigated disaster. And think of the lost nutrient! All of that manure that used to be placed in the surrounding fields through open-air defecation (and somewhat sterilized with intense UV rays) now gets encapsulated in a pit, often times lined with brick and ciment.



I want to make sure my primary point about CLTS wasn't missed, because I'm not qualified to try to justify the implementation or results of the work and that wasn't what I was trying to do.  What was most impressive to me about the CLTS is how it was seemingly able to do what many in this thread have bemoaned as insurmountable, and that you touch on in your response:

it is unrealistic, exhausting and condescending to tell local people to live differently than they want to.



I really wasn't intending to open a debate about the effectiveness of the solution provided by CLTS (less than effective wasteful latrines) or even a debate about the outcomes of those latrines vs. open air defecation.  That would require consideration of different context (eg, village of 500 vs 20,000... Time of year...) and would also require data that I simply don't have beyond anecdotes (eg, studies showing results of disease/infection reduction).  I think it would also require consideration that improvement is incremental, but seeing the need for improvement may be the hardest part at times.

What's interesting to me about CLTS is that they did what is so hard; they lead communities towards recognizing the way they were living isn't ideal, what that they had otherwise accepted as normal, and led them to consider improvements that would be beneficial them.  And their methodology in how they did this on a broad scale across thousands of communities was what was so interesting to me.  

Isn't this what the permaculture community seeks to do in influencing toward sustainable/regenerative growing practices?

I think there is potential inspiration in the CLTS methodology to consider in advocating permacultural principles on a broad scale.

 
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Nathanael Szobody wrote:The pit garden terraces are complete. My plan is to lay down loads of weed tree branches, cover that with a thick layer of peanut shells, cover that with dirt and plant lablab in it this year. The heavy  rains over the next four months will do its magic. That should give us some nice thick composty soil for the next school year to start planting trees in.

   



This looks great, if you feel like it you might be able to put a shade "net" or structure over the pit to reduce the evaporation while allowing smaller plants to mature. planting trees around the pit will have a similar effect.
you may also want to look into banana circles
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Good idea Connor. I think I will put a banana circle in the middle of the pit. And I think I'll put a tree in the middle of the banana circle! Hmmm, what kind of tree? Something that will grow for a very long time, get very big, but preferably not a real dense canopy. I could do an acacia albida...But I would rather a food tree.

Also, partial shade for the rest of the pit is a must. I think perhaps planting moringas every few feet should do the trick. In the long term guava interspersed and pruned regularly would probably work. Citrus would grow too fast and dense to garden underneath. Naturally there will be some leucaena as well. Any other thoughts?

-Nathanael
 
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