Climate Change and going for ‘Green’ in the New Year

Wednesday saw the first UK-Nigeria online meeting of 2011, and it was straight down to business as usual.

Following on from discussions at the Dadamac Day (Local goes Global) - and from the Directors’ meeting at the end of 2010 - the topic of climate change had already been identified as a focus for the New Year.

As ever, John Dada is keen to be at the forefront of raising this important issue at grassroots level. The hope is to develop the Knowledge Resource Centre and Attachab, ensuring that we are mindful of the issue of climate change.

The team identified that monitoring the impact of climate change, anticipating its effects and disseminating such information is a role that the team could perform, but that we would welcome collaborators who could help us achieve this. Pam Mclean mentioned the online community of the Coalition of the Willing as a possible source of collaboratora interested in climate change. It was suggested that perhaps the first step is to see what practical, cheap and easy ways Fantsuam Foundation can employ to monitor the impact of climate change.

John added that maybe rudimentary documentation of changes, the observation of weather impacts, older folks’ recollections and the effects on crops etc might be the first data to collect. John illustrated this by explaining that 2010 saw a failure of the back-eyed beans crop due to unusual, unpredicatble rainfall patterns. This means lower income, the loss of a cheap source of protein and, ultimately, poorer nutrition.

The team agreed that we must look for cheap and easy ways to document and report the observed local changes. As John said: “Such information and little observation of impacts on local folks’ life is what makes climate change relevant to us.”
Pam added to this: “The little observation of impacts on local folks’ life is what people beyond Africa cannot pick up. I think if we bring particular problems to the table then people will begin to realise wider issues and complexities. We need to find some way that they (the local people) benefit from giving the info.”

Attachab: John reminded us that the VSO volunteer Jim Guy has just another 17 days to go before his placement is over. Attachab intends to provide hands-Attachab inends to provide learning.experiences on modern, affordable, green farming and building technology. The photo above shows the drainage channel into the reservoir.

We learned that the tree planting programme has been very successful, with a survival rate of 95%. We were also told that construction work will start shortly on a wooden house - another new technology which can then be shared with farmers/ students visiting Attachab.
John informed the team that the surrounding farmers are still curious about the new irrigation methods being introduced. For although they are less labour intensive, cheaper etc, he pointed out that it will take a successful crop to convince them.

John explained that if you are near a stream, as at Attachab, your water supply is assured and you can use drip irrigation to water the crops. At the moment Attachab has one plastic 5,000L reservoir, two hoses and a 5HP petrol pump. The water is pumped into the reservoir located uphill and the water is then distributed using gravity. John reported that they could really do with more water hoses and a 20HP pump.

The interaction with local farmers is one of the key achievements at Attachab. They make suggestions on what they think the team should be doing, they are sceptical about the drip irrigation - being used for the vegetable beds. John went on to say that drip irrigation appears too slow to the farmers, the finer points of controlling how much water and how quickly water reaches the plants are lessons that are not easily passed on.

John made the very interesting point that in terms of coping with climate change, dry season farming may actually turn out to be more predictable and amenable to control than the rain-fed method. For instance you have no problems of the deluge and soil erosion caused by the torrential rains. At Attachab the dry season is November to April.

John reported that the Attachab team are still challenged by the high leakage from the earth ponds. As the dry season comes, the pond walls shrinks and cracks leading to a loss of water. He told us that if they could get pond liners that could be a solution and that they have heard of a local clay, mostly used in the oil producing industry, which may help reduce the leakage in the ponds.

Graham Knight suggested the use of clay pots for irrigation and Fantauam Foundation have bought 8 such pots and will be using them at Attachab. It turns out to be an age-old method of irrigation which is no longer practiced.

Hopefully, Attachab will resurrect more of such viable, cheap technologies and encourage their adoption.

Other topics covered

  • First Thursday meeting scheduled for Thursday 6th January 10:00-11:00 (BST)
  • Zittnet: Chollom reported that this week is expected to be especially busy as the ZittNet team hopes to be setting up their repeaters.
  • Fantsuam Foundation’s 10th Anniversary at Bayan Loco falls during 2011. Discussions to mark this have begun.