Waste management in small urban context - Malawi

By Dora Nyirenda, Research Administrator of the Malawi hub

On January 11th 2020, I had the privilege to visit the Mzuzu (Nsilo) dumpsite located in the Northern part of Malawi. This opportunity arose while making arrangements for the symposium/workshop that was initially planned to take place in Mzuzu, Malawi.

The dumpsite was a project of Mzuzu City Council in conjunction with Plan Malawi, implemented with funding from the European Union. The facility was to be finished and put into use in 2017, but unfortunately, the place started being used without being fully finished, which made it a place that was perfect for breeding flies due to the lack of waste management. This is especially problematic because the facility is close to people’s homes and a primary school and that flies can be a vector of many diseases and infections.

I visited the area where the dumpsite was when the people were protesting on the 10th January 2020. I asked one of the community members why they were protesting, and she said, ’The unfinished facility is breeding and harbouring a lot of flies. We cannot eat or prepare our foods in the open as the flies land in our food, which puts our health at risk.’  It was on that day that the angry and concerned community members set fire to the facility, which has been closed.

This marked the end of the people’s patience. Before the facility was set on fire, the community members were promised that chemicals would be applied frequently to kill the flies, but this was not happening. The dumpsite was close to a primary school, meaning that flies were landing in the school children’s food.

One of the community members said, ‘We were told that the facility would have machines inside that would be processing and grinding the waste, and that the end product would be manure, which would even benefit the community. But this has not been happening as the facility started being used before they finished constructing it.’ This raised the interesting question of whether the community gave a consent to the facility’s construction or if they were even asked for their views and concerns before the dumpsite project was implemented. This is an example of a problematic situation where planners did not consult properly the local communities and where the implementation of the initiatives did not lead to the expected outcomes. Unless environmental initiatives are context appropriate and involve local communities from inception, the impact can’t be guaranteed.

The Malawi hub is working on a project proposal to investigate the local challenges in implementing solid waste management in Mzuzu and to facilitate the identification of potential situated solutions.


Impact Story from Nigeria: Policymakers Engagement on Artisanal Gold Mining

By Grace Idowu Awosanmi and Deepa Pullanikkatil

Dr Sola Ajayi, a Professor of Agricultural Science in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, got interested in agriculture through his experiences and observations growing up in a farming community. He is now the Director of the Nigerian hub of the Sustainable Futures in Africa (SFA) Network, a global network comprising members from the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Uganda, Malawi and Botswana. “Being auniversity teacher and a Professor of Agriculture gave me the desire to understand communities in a holistic manner,” says Ajayi. “I look at the issue of community development more than just that of agriculture because I know that the development of communities is a result of so many interwoven factors. This was my attraction for joining SFA.”

Since 2014, Ajayi has been researching the nexus between artisanal gold mining and agriculture. He has conducted several field visits and partnered with other universities (notably Goethe University in Germany and Murdoch University in Australia) on issues relating to mining, community relationships and social engagement. So at the inaugural SFA meeting in Botswana in 2016, where hub countries were offered seed grants and asked to come up with projects, Ajayi presented the idea of ‘Prioritizing developmental needs in agrarian and mining communities’. The research question was: What is the priority for artisanal mining communities in the face of limited resources? A variety of methods were used by Ajayi and his interdisciplinary team, which included Prof. Akande from Adult Literacy and Lifelong Education and Prof. Torimiro from Agricultural Sociology.

Ajayi recalls, “As we progressed, there came an escalation in the problem of artisanal mining per se, which also extended to both my immediate environment at Ile-Ife and to the community where I was born. The issue of artisanal mining in Nigeria spiralled to become a security issue that was also threatening the social fabric of communities where these issues were taking place. Therefore we decided to narrow it down and then look at it in context.”

Prof Sola Ajayi meeting with youth

Mining in Itagunmodi

About a year after the start of the SFA project, the government of Nigeria came up with the idea of changing its developmental paradigm to focus on agriculture and mining. They wanted to reduce the dependence of the Nigerian economy on oil, targeting other aspects of the economy instead. This prompted the SFA team to ask, “If the government considers mining and agriculture to hold the key to economic diversification, why are the communities where these activities take place poor?”

Their interest in this question led them to the village of Igbojaye, located in Oyo State.  The community is strategically located within a strongly traditional institutional environment. Itagunmodi is less than 20 km from Ile-Ife, which is regarded as the source/origin of the Yoruba race. However, with the rise of mining and the influx of migrants it brought to the area, the Itagunmodi Kabiyesi (king) had been displaced and had to leave the community. The Yorubas are predominantly farmers, traders and learned people. Therefore, migrants from the north of the country came for the jobs, displacing the original members of the community. Two in every three occupants of the community is a migrant Northerner who does not speak the local language. Prof Ajayi recalls an instance in Itagunmodi when the Jumat prayer was spoken in the migrants’ language. “The migrants were no longer learning the native language. Rather the few natives that were there were learning the language of the migrant miners. We also saw a shift in the kinds of business activities, in the kinds of food in circulation, culture and even the music played on the street. All these no longer reflected the culture of the people.” It was alarming to the locals that Itagunmodi was now being taken over by people of another tribe, and it was seen which was now a major security concern.

As tensions rose in Itagunmodi, Prof. Ajayi spoke with various concerned parties, including the Honourable Commissioner for Environment and Community Leaders and Traditional Rulers, the Deputy Governor of the State and the Chief of Staff of the State. The Chief of Staff was very glad that the SFA team had come to provide research-based perspectives and to draw the government’s attention to the issue, and eventually some of the information they provided led to the convening of a security meeting.

Ajayi also spoke to the Commissioner of Police for Osun State, who was not aware of the security implication nor that the situation had degenerated so much. The Commissioner later informed Ajayi that there would be a Security Summit, which was widely covered in the national dailies. Ajayi also spoke to a very significant and influential indigenous personality, who is presently the Director-General of the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (and was previously Nigeria’s ambassador to Australia), whom he had met during a research project collaboration. This led to the SFA group being put in charge of mining-related issues for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

At that time, the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, a group tasked with the sustainable development of the predominantly Yoruba-speaking southwest region, asked the SFA hub to prepare a presentation that would inform the policy of the commission on the issue of mining and artisanal mining. Ajayi is happy that through SFA, he has been able for the first time to engage with policy makers and provide empirical evidence that can form the opinions and positions of both government and traditional institutions. He says, The goal of the project is not just research. The way I understand it, research is not an end in SFA, research is a means to an end and the end is the development of the community. We want to facilitate development not just as an academic exercise but as a daily experiential activity. So research is only a component of it to the extent that it serves to provide solutions, understanding and index analysis that will bring out solutions to problems. The development will involve members of the community, whether they are natives or migrants. Everyone that lives, everyone that transacts, everyone that has a stake in the community is a stakeholder so they need to be actively engaged. It will involve regulatory authorities, government authorities, traditional institutions and the people. It is important to engage people since the facilitation of development is something that can not be done alone.”


Nigeria Hub's Field Visit to Itagunmodi – The City of Gold

By Grace Awosanmi – Research Administrator of Nigeria hub
Revision made by David Gerow

The Nigerian hub recently (April 2019) made a follow-up visit to Itagunmodi, an ancient but underdeveloped community of farmers famed as the “city of gold” in the Atakumosa West Local Government Area of Osun State.

Under the leadership of the Hub Director, Prof. Sola Ajayi, a team of 9 experts were involved in the field activity. They were drawn from First Technical University, Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. The team comprised specialists in Adult Education, Crop Production, Ecology, Geology, Geography, Remote Sensing, Youth Development/Psychology, and a bilingual Hausa-Yoruba-English interpreter.  The primary objective of the visit was to assess social and environmental changes in the community since the 2016 visit, during which time the community had witnessed an unrestricted influx of foreign and local migrant miners engaging in illicit gold mining, mostly coming from the northern part of the country. The assessment involved observations, key informant interviews, focus group discussions and the administration of questionnaires.

In the time between the two project visits, the community had been diluted. The miners who had previously lived outside the community have now settled in and make up about 75% of the population. Consequently, there has been an apparent shift in the social life and economic activities of the community. The new demographics have occasioned a shift in the kinds of businesses that exist, food preferences, music and even language. Rather than the miners learning the local language, indigenes were learning the miners’ language. The impoverished community members were jumping at the opportunity to make money from the miners without being mindful of the consequences. Home and land owners chose to rent out any available place/farmland to the miners, who are offering as much as four times the normal rates, and thereafter relocating to non-mining and safer communities. Particularly insightful were the discussions held with the women’s food vendor group, youths and other key informants in the community. Various concerns were raised over the recent developments: the invasion by artisanal miners from neighbouring communities, states and countries into their community; the negligence of the government; and the poor relationship between the residents and artisanal miners.

The field visit afforded the hub an opportunity to pre-test the questionnaires designed for a socio-economic and demographic survey and to strengthen relationships with the community through the identification of community representatives.


Malawi Stories: Mapping an Art-Science Collaborative Process

Three SFA partners – Dr Deepa Pullanikkatil (Co-Director), Dr Boyson Moyo (Malawi hub Director) and Dr Brian Barrett (Glasgow hub Director) co-authored this open access article as part of SFA (published in the Journal of Maps in March 2019).

ABSTRACT

This paper outlines a project drawing together an artist working on creative GIS, a geomatics scholar, an NGO leader, a rural geographer and soil scientist, an environmental geochemist, and a political geographer. With a shared interest in the social and physical processes affecting people’s lives in Malawi, and the possibilities for interdisciplinary collaboration, the team engaged in practice-based mapping of our data sources and respective methodologies. The project relates to two sites in Malawi: Tikondwe Freedom Gardens and the Likangala River. The paper details our practices as we shared, debated, and repurposed our data as a means of situating these practices and data. Using paper and pen, whiteboard, PowerPoint, and web-design software, we note here our effort to map a ‘space of experimentation’ highlighting, and reflecting on, our diverse disciplinary orientations, training, instrumentation, recording, and reporting procedures, as well as bodily practices that enable and give animation to these factors.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17445647.2019.1582440


Impact Story: A Solar Dryer Tent to Support Farmers in Nigeria

The Problem

For the farmers of Adogo, a community in Nigeria’s Mbaya district, sun drying was the only way to preserve produce. Local women would lay fruits and vegetables on the ground to dehydrate them for future use. But sun drying brings problems: it’s weather-dependent, it exposes the food to contaminants like dust and insects, and it’s surprisingly time-consuming, as the women need to guard their produce from scavenging animals, both wild and domestic. In Adogo, where the majority of Benue State’s peppers and tomatoes originate but which has no nearby market or processing industry, the smallholder farmers faced a lose-lose situation: either inefficiently dry their produce in the sun, or sell it at giveaway prices before it rotted. All too often the food went bad, just because the farmers lacked a safe, sanitary, reliable method of preserving their produce.

The Idea

Enter Pricilla Achakpa, a celebrated environmentalist and Executive Director of Women Environmental Programme (WEP) in Nigeria. In 2017, Achakpa was invited to the University of Glasgow for a meeting of Sustainable Futures in Africa (SFA). There she heard a fellow SFA member, Dr. Deepa Pullanikkatil, present on climate change adaptation technologies that were used in a project in Malawi. One technology mentioned by Dr. Pullanikkatil made a particular impression on Achakpa: the Solar Dryer Tent. Here was a simple construction, similar to a greenhouse, that would not only allow produce to be dried quickly, safely and hygienically, but which had already been successfully implemented in Malawi, where it was used to dry fish. Achakpa knew at once that she was on to something that could change lives in rural Nigerian communities like Adogo.

CONSULTATIVEMEETING

Three months later, Achakpa and Pullanikkatil met again, this time at an SFA conference in Nigeria. This time Pullanikkatil brought along a model of a Solar Dryer Tent as well as a how-to construction video. Achakpa brought these to Adogo, where the farmers responded with overwhelming positivity. They recognized a priceless opportunity to stop their produce from rotting, meaning they would be able to dry enough food to last all year, and also to sell preserved goods at fair prices rather than offloading it dirt-cheap before it rotted. With the community whole-heartedly on board, WEP delegated a team to strategize with the villagers in a consultative meeting.

The Project

The people of Adogo committed to providing land for the tent as well as labour, wood, sand, water and cement. WEP would provide the necessary funds as well as bricks, tin roofing sheets, plastic sheets, nets and other materials. To oversee the construction of their tent, the community formed a project Implementation Committee consisting of local masons, carpenters, church leaders, enthusiastic youths and the community head, Zakki, who mobilised people and played a supervisory role.

Carpenters

Construction began in July 2018 and was completed a month later. The result was a tent built 21 feet wide and 32 feet long, with a 2-foot deep foundation. The walls, made of burnt bricks, stand 5 feet high, giving the tent a strong foundation and protecting it from animals, wind and flooding. The wooden pillars bring the height of the tent up to 7 feet, with galvanized aluminium sheets used for roofing. These sheets absorb sunlight, and the heat they generate is retained by hard polythene sheets used as walls, with vents for circulation. Inside the tent are double-decker racks, each 4 feet wide and 22 feet long, covered with polythene and netting on which produce can be left to dry with minimal monitoring from the farmers, freeing them up to tend to other duties.

HANDOVER

The Impact

The community have reported that their produce dries faster in the Solar Dryer Tent than it did outdoors, and that the nutritional properties of the produce are better retained. The Solar Tent Dryer is cost-effective, easy to build (requiring only semi-skilled labour), and suitable for rural areas of Nigeria where subsistence farming is highly concentrated. The widespread use of Solar Dryer Tents would have a huge impact, enhancing the storage of produce during harvests and reducing post-harvest losses, all of which means an increase in the availability of food and a major reduction in food waste.

PEPPER

Safer, healthier, more abundant food for the people of Adogo to consume and sell, and a permanent structure to ensure continued success into the future. It’s easy to see why Zaki Linus Asorzwa, the district head of Adogo, called the Solar Dryer Tent a “momentous milestone for the good of the community” as he expressed his gratitude to WEP for their efforts. But it was not WEP alone that turned the tide in Adogo; it was the result of a collaboration between WEP and the community, as well as a fortuitous meeting between Achakpa and Dr. Pullanikkatil. Thinking back on it, Pullanikkatil says, “It is heartening to know that a simple conversation and meeting through SFA in Glasgow helped transfer this technology to Nigeria and is now helping communities there.”

You can see a short documentary about Adogo’s Solar Dryer Tent here: https://youtu.be/jT4usNwpSkg


Publication: Modelling of Extension and Dyking-Induced Collapse Faults and Fissures in Rifts

This publication is an output of the research conducted by SFA researchers in Uganda on ‘Understanding the structure, permeability and activity of faults in and around the Rwenzori mountains, Albertine rift system’

Koehn, D., Steiner, A. and Aanyu, K. (2018). Modelling of extension and dyking-induced collapse faults and fissures in rifts. Journal of Structural Geology, 118, pp.21-31.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • This contribution presents modelling of fissures and faults in rifts induced by extension and dyking.
  • Faults nucleate as hybrid shear surfaces and migrate upwards as fissures and downwards as shear fractures.
  • Dyking tends to localize faults on top of dykes and produces narrow vertical collapse structures.
  • Collapse structures are rhomboid blocks that form along conjugate fault sets and move down with normal and reverse sense.
  • The most localized collapse structures develop on top of thin and shallowly intruding dykes.

For more information, you can find the publication by using the DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsg.2018.09.017


Botswana Hub - Publication

The SFA Botswana Hub conducted a trial study titled Unearthing the Dynamics of Human and Wildlife Interactions: The Case of Mmadinare Community in the Central Region of Botswana. From this study a journal paper was extracted and submitted to Wildlife Interactions Journal. It is exciting to announce that finally the paper entitled “Toward Sustainable Conservation and Management of Human-Wildlife Interactions in the Mmadinare Region of Botswana: Villagers’ Perceptions on Challenges and Prospects” has been published and can be accessed from the below link:

HTTPS://DIGITALCOMMONS.USU.EDU/HWI/VOL12/ISS2/8


SFA Documentary: Cultural Practices and Perspectives

By Elson Kambalu, Art House Africa

On the 17th January 2018, the Sustainable Futures in Africa hub in Malawi held a workshop on “Exploring the role of Arts in Development Projects” held in Lilongwe at the beautiful Child Legacy International premises.

Helen Todd of Arts and Global Health Center Africa (ArtGlo) introduced the World Café method of participants working together and developing ideas. Sitting in mixed groups of artists, development practitioners and academicians and brainstormed on sustainability topics and how arts can play a role in such work. Elson Kambalu, Lilongwe based artist created the below documentary on some of the work that SFA partners in Malawi do.

For more information about this event, read SFA Malawi’s Research Administrator Stewart Paul‘s reflection on the day here:  https://sustainablefuturesinafrica.com/2018/04/11/art-and-development-walking-hand-in-hand/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UZad8ucmvQ&t=2s


SFA Network Seeks New Ways of Managing Elephants

The University of Botswana’s Department of Adult Education led an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the Sustainable Futures in Africa (SFA) Network for a workshop on human-wildlife interactions at the Mmadinare Main Kgotla on August 14, 2018. The Patriot on Sunday, a Botswana national Sunday newspaper, has featured the Sustainable Futures in Africa’s research trial, community event and community partnerships in a recent article discussing wildlife management:

http://www.thepatriot.co.bw/news/item/6003-ub,-sfa-network-seek-new-ways-of-managing-elephants-in-mmadinare.html


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