Global Connections!

Wednesday's weekly online meeting linking the Dadamac UK office with its sister organisation Fantsuam Foundation took place as usual - but with an unexpected (and welcome) twist!

In addition to the regular connection between the UK and rural Nigeria, we also established a link with the Streaming, Sharing and Learning workshop in Vienna.

How did this come about? Well, the meeting followed its tried and tested path of discussing the agenda - covering topics as varied as the provision of footballs with bells to aid blind players to a  major issue of permaculture.

However, when we reached any other business, were were joined by Pam and some her fellow participants who are attending a workshop in Vienna.

First Wednesday Meeting of 2010

Wow, what a start to the New Year!

Although it had been a few weeks since our last UK-Nigeria online meeting (due to connectivity issues and holidays) I was quickly reminded again how thrilled I am to be involved with this dynamic group of people.

Although these meetings with Fantsuam are arranged for the same time and day each week, they are never routine, dull or a chore.

Fish Farming

Until recently my experience with fish had been limited, to say the least. In all honesty, it had consisted of watching my children win goldfish at a fair - and the occasional cod and chips supper!

However over the last 18 months the subject of fish farming has captured my attention and I have been lucky enough to have my eyes opened to the many and varied challenges involved. (Although I'll be the first to admit I still have a great deal more to learn!)

Last Wednesday Meeting of 2009!

Yesterday saw the last scheduled meeting of 2009 between the UK-Nigeria team.

The main item on the agenda was to thank everyone for their continued commitment to these meetings and for all their hard work during the past year.


We also wanted to reflect on the successes we had shared and explore together any aspects of our collaboration which might be improved upon in the coming year. We also hoped to clarify what should be our first objectives togeher for the New Year.


In the event, the meeting departed from its usual Skype format involving all members together because of technical difficulties which caused a time delay between the UK and Nigeria. However, the UK  team was able to meet as usual and to go through the agenda items together. This main meeting was supported by sms messages, emails and individual Skypes to our colleagues in Nigeria. One advantage of using Skype is that usually the messages will eventually be seen by all. Let's hope that is the case here!


Close Collaborations

I’ve been struck by the high quality of collaboration demonstrated in the regular UK-Nigeria meetings, so thought I’d say a few words about this in this week’s blog.

I’m talking not just about the obvious collaboration of these weekly online meetings between the UK and Nigerian teams - but also the more subtle and equally important collaboration between Pam and her network.

Dadamac meetings go global!

Yesterday's weekly UK-Nigeria online meeting was a truly global affair, involving no fewer than three continents and nine people! John Dada was travelling in Asia, Pam and Nikki were in Europe (UK) and, of course, we were joined by our six Fantsuam participants in rural Nigeria, Africa.

Despite a minor problem accessing some links, we were able to cover in some depth topics ranging from witchcraft in rural Nigeria to the inclusion in the community of those with disabilities - and the building of links with NITEL to provide local affordable phone and internet connectivity.

We also discussed microfinance and funding Business Development Services. Phew! All in all, not bad for an hour's work. Though a few of us did remain to chat after the official hour ended . . .

Victims of Witchcraft

Phones and Fantsuam

Yesterday's online UK/Nigeria meeting saw several exciting developments. First and foremost was the news that Fantsuam has reached agreement to broadcast its radio signal through the communication towers of Nigerian Telecoms company NITEL.

Because these towers are much bigger and higher than those currently used, Fantsuam will now be able to serve a far wider area! In fact ,Fantsuam will be able to mount it's equipment on masts in Kafanchan and Zonkwa which will enable them to reach distances of up to 70kms.

Also as a result of the meeting between these organisations, the telecoms company has asked Zittnet to become its wholesaler for bandwidth. Which sounds very impressive and I have yet to fully understand the implications of this :-)

Initially, the phone market will operate only within Kafanchan. However, the long-term goal is for Fantsuam Foundation to eventually serve Southern Kaduna state.

A 'Juicy' Story!

The need to find alternative livelihoods for local Nigerian women has become a recurring theme in recent online/Nigeria meetings.

In particular, concerns have been expressed about the issue of those who collect firewood to sell. This practice is unsustainable and is contributing to de-forestation.
The women themselves recognise this but cannot afford to stop until they have an alternative source of income. Initially the team believed that the purchase of efficient wood stoves would be benificial. But they are very expensive and it was felt that this would not be feasible until a new stream of income is in place.

However, never fear! The ever-resourceful John Dada and his team have come up with a suggestion that Dadamac Foundation  is only too happy to support. Juicers!

Farming at Fantsuam

THIS week's UK/Nigeria meeting provided another fascinating and informative hour, covering subjects as diverse as the training of local Nigerian instructors, crayfish and sms credit!

And all this despite an intermittent problem with time delay, which served as a gentle reminder that connectivity is still a considerable problem for most rural communities.
What particularly caught my attention was Fantsuam's ability to identify and respond to their communities' local needs. They are concerned, for instance, that their women farmers - comprising of around 1,500 of their microfinance clients - have difficulty affording fertiliser. This of course affects their productivity and ability to repay loans.

To combat this Fantsuam has put in order for a delivery of organic fertiliser to serve these women, which is due to arrive within a fortnight. They will then monitor the situation to see if this helps alleviate the problem. Should it do so, the order will be repeated!

I was also interested to learn of research by the new VSO at Fantsuam, which is focusing on two main local agricultural markets - namely catfish and soya bean. We will look forward to hearing the results in due course.


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