Prioritizing the Challenges to the Development of Mining Communities in Nigeria

Prioritizing the Challenges to the Development of Mining Communities in Nigeria.

Sustainable Futures in Africa researchers from Obafemi Awolowo University and Women Environmental Programme headed to Komu-Igbojaye-Babaode Mining Communities in Oyo State to experiment methodologically  to uncover the socio-ecological impact of the mining on the local community.

You can find a snapshot of the trial below, where a drone was used to gather geographical information to support the data analysis.

A detailed report from our last research trial is here for more information: https://sustainablefuturesinafrica.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/itagunmodi.pdf


SFA researchers from Obafemi Awolowo University and Women Environmental Programme conducted field trials in the Isoya Community, Western Nigeria to explore the use of rituals in agriculture:  the indigenous practice of using dead dogs to control termites in cocoa farmlands.

Cocoa is the leading agricultural export of Nigeria, the country is currently the world's fourth-largest producer of cocoa, yet termite control becomes the major challenge for the plant cultivation. Though existent agricultural practice provides a range of plant protection solutions, the Nigerian farmers prefer to employ native rituals.

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Various beliefs guide the norm of ritual practice in Nigeria. The tradition of using the dead flesh in agriculture has been restricted in the country, yet farmers claim this method to be the most effective to prevent termites invasion and keep on practising this ritual through the restriction.

For the local farmers, this practice has a dual meaning: rational and spiritual. Rationally, they use decaying flesh to bring ants to the field in order to exterminate termites.  For this, the farmers palm-oil dead dogs and bury animals on every corner of the field. Spiritually, the farmers believe in a mysterious connection between dogs and termites that adds particular significance to the practice.

An interdisciplinary analysis will be conducted on this data during the upcoming Symposium and results will be shared shortly.

This January, SFA ran a Community Awareness event in Kampala, Uganda, to develop a deeper understanding of the impact of plastic waste on the environment and community life.
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In the recent years, Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, has witnessed an alarming growth of waste that equals to 730,000 tons a day, of which only 1% is currently recycled. SFA researchers from Makerere University and representatives of the Ugandan Art Trusts met the local community in Banda, Kampala city, to find possible solutions to plastic waste disposal through the art and culture practical tools. This event was hosted by EcoAction, a non-government organisation led by Reagan Kandole, an eco-artist and lecturer at Kyambogo University.
The participants gathered in the community space, designed out of plastic bottles, to find the answer to the question on how cultural practices can help to address the problem of waste disposal. The community members came out with some sketches on waste management, followed by the group discussion facilitated by the SFA researchers from the Makerere University.
At the end of the workshop, the community came up with various solutions on waste utilisation that we would be happy to share shortly.

ecoAction

EcoAction works in the field of waste management and environmental problems that threaten the health and quality of li
fe of the communities in the region for many years.  One example of a recent project delivered by EcoAction involved the local community in the creation of a mural aimed at educating community members about different recycling practices.  For more information, please visit the EcoAction website.

Africa in Motion (AiM)

Africa in Motion (AiM) is an annual African film festival, taking place in Scotland, consisting of film screenings and complementary events. It was founded by SFA partner Dr Lizelle Bisschoff. Now in its twelfth year, AiM brings the best of African cinema to Scotland—making it possible for Scottish audiences to engage with African stories and industry professionals from the continent.  Our 2017 festival was a great success, attracting diverse audiences to events in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. We presented a varied programme with a range of genres and events, with over 80 films from 28 countries. The programme included a number of dine-and-view events that paired food with films from the continent, community screenings, films accompanied by panel discussions and Q&As, workshops and even a club night!

Diversity and inclusion is at the heart of Africa in Motion, and at the 2017 festival we further developed our efforts to create an inclusive festival programme. This is hugely important for AiM as 27% of our audiences come from a BAME background. Many of our events were free, and we offered free tickets for refugees and asylum seekers for paid screenings (in particular we partnered with the Unity Centre offering free screenings to their members). Our programme was also inclusive in terms of gender, with 18 of the films in the programme being F-rated, meaning they were directed by women and/or have a strong female focus.

For more information, see: www.africa-in-motion.org.uk

https://www.facebook.com/aimfilmfest/

 

https://twitter.com/AiMfilmfest


TRENDS2017 | Between Cities and the Rural: The Role of Universities in Developing our Societies

Reflection on Conference Attendance

Conference Name:          TRENDS2017

Location & Date:              Pretoria, South Africa – October 17-19 2017

Paper Presented:             A Cross-disciplinary Approach to Locating Human Wildlife Interaction in the Mmadinare Region of Botswana

Authors:                              Modise OM. Lekoko RN , Thakadu O & Mpotokwane M.; University of Botswana

Presenters:                         Profs. Modise & Lekoko

TRENDS2017 marked the 14th year of PASCAL International conference and the first to be held in South Africa. The theme of the conference was Between Cities and the Rural: The Role of Universities in Developing our Societies. Team Botswana was particularly attracted to the conferences strands that weaved around important areas of (i) the role of nation state versus the global economic power (ii) Cities would be like countries with global power and (iii) Rethinking the role of universities. The theme of interest for the Botswana team was the third strand because it wanted participants to dialogue about and gauge the present and future responsibilities of universities in collaborating with communities to address community or national development. Botswana’s paper on human-wildlife interactions fitted well in this strand calling universities to team up with communities to address local challenges using traditional community approaches such as Kgotla and story-telling thus connecting ‘with the old and modern African tradition’, as was one main theme of the conference. Proceedings were thus tailored to take a form of everyday life consultation and dialogue as used in “the Kgotla or Lekgotla in Botswana and South Africa”(TRENDS2017).  To this respect, our paper was able to bring unique practical perspectives on the importance of using traditional indigenous community practices in dealing with human-wildlife conflict.

The paper we presented was enlightening, shedding light on how universities can make themselves valued by the communities. Like the Sustainable Futures Network, the Pascal 2017 Pretoria Statement stated that “Pascal’s Learning City Network must be sustained in order to provide a platform for inter-cultural, inter-disciplinary and international exchange between cities/regions”.  It unpacked how worldwide perspectives generated through research in universities could be prolifically applied on local possibilities. This we believe echoes the sentiments expressed by the Sustainable Futures Network.

 Our paper attracted constructive feedback:

Suggestions for improvement

Explore in detailed elephants migration routes

  • Correlation analysis and comparison with experiences elsewhere may add value
  • A broader geographical sampling (within Botswana) may be considered to allow comparison
  • Construct a robust sampling of study site
  • Collect more publicly available data e.g. through informal discussion of the villagers.

Commendation

  • The use of familiar and non-traditional research techniques like community forum (Kgotla) and story-telling
  • Cultural sensitivity of respecting community leaders (Dikgosi & elders) as principal investigators
  • Approaching the study with an interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary mind-set and respect for community members
  • Robust data selection and analysis to bring out what conflict meant for the villagers
  • Presenting the interviews with more authority from the voices of community members

With all these comments our study will continue to improve and advance into a more holistic exploration of this challenge of human-wildlife conflict.

The Research Team in Botswana would like to appreciate the support and thank Mia Perry (coordinator of University Court of University of Glasgow - Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for this opportunity to present at TRENDS2017 conference, which in our opinion is a giant step on a journey to Building Connections for Sustainable Futures in Africa.

The comments given will be taken into consideration as the research advances.

For more information please visit: http://pascalobservatory.org/ & http://cradall.org/resources/links/pascal-international-observatory

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A 'No Method' Approach to Empowering Local Communities

Team Uganda carried out field trials in two distinctive communities namely; Kibanjwa Community in Hoima district, Western Uganda and Apala Community in Apala sub-Country, Alebtong district in Northern Uganda. The choice for Kibanjwa community was influenced by the recent discovery of oil in the area and the impacts that this has had on the communities surrounding the oil wells. The whole experience although challenging, was worthwhile and insightful as it delved into how the local people in Uganda view and interact with their environment. It was also a learning experience for the multi-disciplinary research team, as they worked together on an issue of common concern. People came in large numbers for community forums, especially in Alebtong due to the fact that it is served by Widows and Orphanage Centre (AWOC), a partner of the SFA network.

People of Kibanjwa putting their heads together to identify their challenges, and how they can tackle them

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apala community was chosen because of its native identity as a “healing community” recovering from a 20-year old insurgency that claimed so many lives, and left families in distress and brokenness. The field trial for each study site lasted four days. In Kibanjwa, the field trial was from the 10th June to the 13th June 2017, while in Alebtong it was from the 17th June to the 20th June 2017.

The team employed a “no method” approach in the two study sites, which was very much influenced by the desire to empower the local people to talk freely about their world. Data collection approaches used included observations, quasi-transects walks, community forums and home visits. The level of knowledgeability, open-mindedness and degree of freedom of expression portrayed by the community participants, made the process enjoyable, fruitful and offered a desirable degree of flexibility not restrictive to any specific method. The whole process was a mixture of compromises, surprises, breaking new ground and contestation, but eventually the team reached a common understanding.

Joseph & Kevin from the Ugandan Research Team with notebooks listening and recording experiences of Apala community members during a quasi – transect walk

Unearthing the Dynamics of Human and Wildlife Interactions

On the 10th July 2017, the Batswana research team traveled well to Mmadinare, Botswana where they conducted field research. Goitse, SFA Botswana network partner shares her experience below:

We were well received by the village Chief and elders. The community also received us warmly and they positively shared information with us. They showed a high level of interest during discussions which enabled us to achieve the idea of a Kgotla forum. The positive attitude and response portrayed by the community guaranteed future cooperation. People were very balanced as to what they could also do as a contribution to the problem of human-wildlife interaction. They were familiar with the subject as it transpired that they had already made a proposal for a game reserve through the ‘Community Development Trust’, with the objective of both keeping elephants away from people and at the same time benefiting from them as a tourist attraction.

'This experience brought to the surface that the issue of human-wildlife interaction was not an imagined thing, but rather a reality.'

The venue was conducive for the community forum discussion, as it was a familiar and non-threatening environment. The team managed to achieve our goal because a smooth relationship was established right from the beginning. The community members participated fully and brought to the surface that the issue of human-wildlife interaction was not an imagined thing, but rather a reality.

The team presented itself in a manner that enhanced the reception that they received. There was a free flow of information and people were free to discuss issues and there was no evidence to suggest that they perceived the team as outsiders. They, in fact, felt that a collaborative relationship could be established where they could always consult the team should they need technical or professional assistance.

The harmonious process helped the forum to produce quality results as people shared relevant information.

The forum was focused in terms of identifying the realities of their lives. While they shared concerns relating to their interaction with wildlife, they indicate a desire to co-exist with elephants which demonstrated a high level of maturity, knowledge, and understanding of environmental issues. They even asked to be part of the next network meeting through a representative if it were possible. Overall, people showed eagerness to participate - an attitude that made the whole trip a success.

 


Reproductive Health at Mbando Village: Dispelling Myths

Making informed choices regarding reproductive health is something that is taken for granted in developed countries with good access to health services. This is often not the case in developing countries, and particularly so at Mbando village which is located by the shores of Lake Chilwa, in Machinga District, southern Malawi. Being one of the poorest countries in the world, Malawi faces a number of challenges, including poor access to reproductive health services and inadequate awareness. Mbando is a small village with 95 households consisting of mostly subsistence farmers and fishermen. It is vulnerable due to being prone to droughts and having few livelihood options. However, there is a vibrant youth community at the village. They have organized themselves into a club called “Wonderful Youth Club”. Being concerned about the high number of teenage pregnancies and many misconceptions regarding reproductive health, this club requested Abundance to hold a training session to discuss sexual and reproductive health.

Stewart Paul, Secretary of Abundance and a person of multiple talents, offered to undertake the training and was the right choice, being a youth himself (22 years old). On the 22nd of July 2017, Stewart joined Ruth Mumba (Director of Abundance) and others to Mbando village to meet with the youth to discuss this important yet often neglected topic. The youth face many challenges including poor access to contraceptives. They said that the nearest clinic was 3 km away and contraceptives were often unavailable and when it is available they were distributed to more established youth clubs in surrounding villages. Youth could not access any “counselling” or knowledge on sexual and reproductive health. Often girls were uncomfortable approaching older women to request for contraceptives at the clinic because they feared being judged immoral.

Stewart Paul talks to the youth, as Ruth Mumba (left) looks on.

It was surprising for Stewart to hear about the myths and misconceptions regarding this topic from the youth:

“Artificial contraception methods lead such as using pills lead to sterility or infertility.”

“When boys use contraception, over a given period of time they lack sexual prowess and stamina”.

Through the training Stewart dispelled some of the myths and provided much needed information to youth about sexual and reproductive health and how contraceptives work. The need for family planning was emphasized and he explained that good sexual and reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being in all matters relating to the reproductive system. The importance of taking care of the reproductive system to avoid injuries and infection was also emphasized.

The session was only for a few hours and the youth requested for more such sessions to be organized for continued awareness raising on these matters. The access to contraceptives remains a challenge to be overcome. Abundance hopes to collaborate with organizations that provide these services and work towards improving access for youth at Mbando village. We envision a Malawi where all youth will be free to take informed decisions regarding reproductive health. This training was a small step towards that vision, but many more needs to be taken.

 

For more information visit: http://www.abundanceworldwide.org

 @abundanceworldwide

 @Abundance_ww


Periods; Let’s talk about it!

Menstruation is the most dreaded time for adolescent girls and women in poor communities such as those in Mbando village, Machinga District, Malawi, where Abundance works. Why is such a natural health cycle, so difficult for them? The girls describe it as a time of anxiety and worry.

“When I get periods, I use pieces of cloth and am worried that it will fall off when I walk. That would be so shameful! So I don’t go to school those days. Also, it is difficult to sit on the floor while having periods, as our school does not have desks and chairs and we sit on the classroom floor.”

-A girl in Chirimba Secondary school, Mbando village.

Our rapid assessment in the village revealed that lack of access to and inability to afford proper sanitary napkins, caused the girls to resort to poor menstrual hygiene practises. Only three out of 53 girls surveyed at Mbando village have ever used proper sanitary pads. Lead by Abundance Director Ruth Mumba and her team, a one day training workshop (22 July 2017) was held at Mbando village on production of reusable sanitary napkins. The training was in response to a request from mothers in the village, who were concerned about young girls’ menstrual hygiene and related impacts.

Abundance Menstrual Hygiene Training

Grace Moyo began the training by first removing the “social stigma” on menstruation. “It is healthy to menstruate and you should not be ashamed of it. If you are a girl, you will menstruate”, she told the girls. She reiterated that being teased by their peers should not let them down, in fact, menstruation should be viewed as a sign that they are fit. Reusable sanitary napkins are made from used cloth and shaped like proper sanitary pads, but have an addition of buttons on the sides to secure them. Thus the worry that the cloth may fall off is no longer there and this gives confidence to the girls. Furthermore, the pads are something the girls can make on their own with a little training. They can be washed and reused, thus being an inexpensive and sustainable solution.

In the large classroom of Mbando village’s Community Based Child Care Centre, girls grouped themselves into groups of 6 and began making the pads with help from Ruth Mumba and Grace Moyo. Used cloth was sourced by Ruth from the local markets and sewing kits were purchased which was distributed to each group. Every girl got a small sewing pack which she could take home with her and continue making pads at her home. Care was taken to include aspects of washing pads with soap and drying them thoroughly before use, in the training.

Present at the workshop was the “Mothers Support Group”, which is a volunteer group of women in Mbando village who support women and children and help bring back children who drop out of school. They welcomed the training as a means to reduce girls’ absenteeism in schools. But there were also a pleasantly surprising cascading effect from the training. The Chairlady of the group said, “Because of this workshop, I believe that not only will the girls help themselves, go to school during periods, but, they can also use the skills to make pads and sell them for an income.” The possibility of income generation movement from this workshop was a positive spill-over that Abundance’s training did not expect, but happily welcomed.

Making reusable sanitary pads is not just a menstrual hygiene project, it has multiple benefits of improving confidence in girls, reducing absenteeism of girls in school and possible income generation venture. This is one small way Abundance is trying to help communities in Malawi. Let us break the silence about menstruation and promote dignity for girls!

Written by Deepa Pullanikkatil (PhD)

Founder & President of Abundance.

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