UK-Nigeria meeting: witchcraft, sick child, plastic recycling, solar projects.

Integrated community development at Fantsuam is a continual dance between immediate needs and longer term plans and projects. Today was a holiday, but community needs still demanded John Dada’s attention, repeatedly calling him away from our weekly UK-Nigeria Dadamac meeting. Despite this we were able to give some time to longer-term projects and planning, with news from the plastics re-cycling programme, and discussion of Jeff LaHay’s work on small-scale solar, plus ideas for a possible follow up project (for a different piece of solar equipment) where the project would consist of a local pilot project and then replication.

In this blog I’ve copied some of John’s input to the meeting, Our weekly meeting are an ongoing story, so If you want additional background on what was being discussed please contact with “Additional blog information” in the subject line.

Meeting archive for January 24th - a bank holday

John Dada: Am sorry am late. It is Prophet Mohammed”s birthday today, so it is a bank holiday. I took that advantage to go for a bike ride, and went a bit far

John was called away soon after the meeting started properly.

A Social Protection issue

John Dada: Sorry sorting out a Social Protection issue; a young man got stung by bees, and he died. An old man has been accused of sending the bees to kill the chap......I have made some calls and got Ayuba to call the village chief to register our interest in the case. And arrange an immediate meeting for us to visit the village. I have called for a taxi to come and take us there.

Lets continue with our meeting until the taxi shows up, he says the car needs some fixing.

This is one of the hazards of the elderly especially in rural Nigeria. They get accused of being agents of the devil in causing death. illnesses, etc.

FF (Fantsuam Foundation) intervention has continued to be effective.

Social Protection remains a huge challenge and I just wonder how we can leverage the attention that ageing issues is now getting to focus on the special vulnerability of the elderly in poorer societies.

John disappeared again.

Sickle Cell

John Dada: Sorry a child in sickle cell crises arrived and the nurse was on break. Have stabilised him.

John vanished again

Plastics recycling

John Dada: Am back (again!)

Plastics recycling: we have completed the first phase of collection, sorting, washing, drying and weighing and sent the results to Ron. When he releases funds we will get on with the second phase of market survey.

We have engaged an assistant to administer the survey and she has actually started. I got her to travel to Jos last week to meet Linus for detailed briefing, and she has spoken to one of the stakeholder groups we will be meeting: architects. (Note from Pamela - the plastics are recycled into floor tiles.) We have several groups of stakeholders: architects, masons, building merchants, end users whom our assistant will be talking to get their views about the sample that Linus came back with.

Pamela: Of course we hope that the result of the market survey will be favourable - but the survey itself is a valuable project and useful demonstrator of local organisational capacity.

Kafanchan Solar Group

John Dada: Jeff Lahay and the Kafanchan Solar Group

The graduate assistant who is working with us on the plastics survey is also very keen member of the solar club. I will get her involved in Jeff's ideas and will be on the lookout for more stable membership.....Her name is Theresa and she recently scaled thru a pre-selection for funding for her project which is to assemble solar fridges for rural hospitals in our area.

The Knowledge Resource Centre

John Dada: Making the KRC (Knowledge Resource Centre) come into its own is something I feel deeply about. FF's progress has been because of the use of informed judgements based on research etc. I see the KRC helping to achieve more of that for us and partner organizations. I think that is a niche for FF (Fantsuam Foundation) FF has been effective in meeting local needs because Dadamac helps us see the global trend and we can see where we fit into it. I think its called GLOCAL? Linking the local to the global.

Jeff and graduate students

John Dada: For Jeff, maybe I should explore working with graduate students or with the science departments of the Colleges around Kafanchan. Jeff has so much skills and it is important that we put together a proactive team that can learn from him. He is also such a good teacher, and a seasoned techie. If we know the innovations that Jeff is looking at, we will provide the local context of the issues those innovations will address, and then the proposal writer can take it from there.

Note from Pamela - I asked John about the idea of following this up with training of people from other locations to enable replication.

Replication - beyond the local area

John Dada: Such training will be great Pam, bringing folks from other locations. All of these can be added into the funding proposals.

We will have some students from within Nigeria, including Fola, then we can have some East Africa.

The follow-up will be important and most of it will be at a distance; we can however include a F2F whereby I can go and see the participants at their various locations and see what impact their training is having.....(I say ME, as generic. Someone from FF who has Monitoring and Evaluation skills will do)

Sharing their knowledge back home

The value of the training will be in how effective the participants are able to localise and customise the new skills and knowledge and replicate them in their home environments. So our selection criteria of trainees will include ability to reach more people on return. They will have to convince us of how they intend to share their new skills and at the training each person will develop a workplan of what they see themselves achieving in 6 months, 12 prior to the training, we will include an online familiarisation of their local networks, their involvement etc.

An idea we're exploring

Note from Pamela - This is just an idea at present to follow up Jeff’s previous work with John related mainly to solar charging of phones. Jeff (in USA) and I (in UK) have had a long initial (voice) Skype chat about it and, given John’s enthusiastic response, we’ll now try to fix a typed Skype chat involving Jeff, John, me and Jeff’s funding-bid writer. (John's connectivity is too poor for a voice chat - and anyhow we find that typed chats have benefits as well as disadvantages.)

Youths desperate for opportunites

John Dada: I will wait until after the first Skype meeting so that we start exploring the local crowd of youths who can benefit from Jeff's training.These youths are desperate for guidance and support in order to help themselves. Some of them give up and look for more violent ways of helping themselves: a self destructive process, that.

The graduates are particularly vulnerable because they are better aware of their own potentials if only there is an enabling environment for them to get started. So it will be a whole value chain of training, so that KRC is like an incubator

End of long term planning - immediate needs call

John Dada: Another interruption, I have a child now on drip, so am going in and out to see how he is doing. BFN

Integrated community development

Thoughts from Pamela - As I said at the start. John's work at Fantsuam is integrated (deeply integated) community development. He serves local needs through various inter-related community projects, and the Fantsuam Foundation compound is often the first port of call when people have a problem. In addition to that, together through Dafamac, we also try to bring in projects that have the potential for much wider relevance (see Dadamac Ltd).

We're glad to have brought the plastics recyling iniital feasibility and market research study to Fantsuam Foundation, for Ron Dennis, Developing Technologies and London University, funded by Comic Relief. If the results are positive then Ron will try to get funding for the next stage - a pilot project running a small business to produce the tiles locally using equipent developed by his students, (equipment that Linus became familiar wtih during his visit to London last year).


If the solar project that Jeff has in mind does get funding then, like the plastics recycling project, it will connect with deep local knowledge and long term community development commitment. It will be genuine collaboration using local languages, involving the right people, and demonstrating thorough cultural appropriateness.  

We will see if it is possible to get any funding and, even more importantly, if such funding will cover the full costs. I mean all the invisibility factors of "getting it right with the people" and communicating effectively - things that we know affect long-tem outcomes and are important and extremely time consuming - but which don't show up easily in photo opportunity shots for funders or on tick lists of short term outputs.

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