On a recent trip to Nepal I was introduced to Practical Action’s work on flood preparedness and in particular the development of Early Warning Systems to provide poor communities with advance warning of devastating floods. Poor people living in the Terai plains in Nepal are all too familiar with the danger posed by flash floods, which according to UNDP have on average killed 178 people, affected a further 114,000 and caused over US$ 34.5 million worth of damage each year since 1980.
Recognising this threat, Practical Action started in 2002 by engaging vulnerable local communities in flood prevention planning and it was quickly realised that the major problem was a lack of prior warning. Hence regardless of when the flood struck the losses were considerable, particularly for the poor and marginalised families that lived in the most vulnerable locations. Therefore Practical Action and the community constructed the first watch tower in Bhandara village, Chitwan district in 2002 and provided a basic siren that they could use to provide advance warning. The benefits this system provided were immediately realised as only a few moments’ advance warning enabled families to move to higher ground, protect their most vulnerable assets and importantly collect their official papers, documents that were critical to access relief services and to return to their farms once the floods had abated.
However, the limitations of the system were quickly realised. It only provided advance warning of a few minutes governed by how far the observer could see and the system was dependent on the observers remaining vigilant and was only effective during the monsoon when flash floods were most likely. Another limitation was the noise generated during a downpour when rain drops hitting a corrugated roof quickly overwhelmed the ability of the siren to be heard, so Practical Action subsequently modified the system with higher powered and linked sirens so that they could be heard by more people simultaneously.
Based on the lessons learned and the feedback from the local community it was realised that this technology was effective and could easily be taken to new areas. So Practical Action approached the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology of the Government of Nepal, with a proposal to link their river monitoring stations using mobile communications to communities downstream to extend advance warning from a few minutes to at least a couple of hours. Following the agreement of the department, Practical Action worked with local communications specialists Real Time Solutions Pvt. Ltd to link this information to SMS services and also connecting the data to the internet, allowing real time flood warning information to be disseminated to many different users. This system is now operational in 5 river systems in Nepal, the West Rapti, Narayani, East Rapti, Babai and Karnali Rivers, providing between 1.5 to 5 hours advance warning depending on the river system. This has reduced the flood vulnerability of poor communities living along these rivers and has enabled local authorities to deliver more responsive flood relief.
The system I viewed in the Karnali River basin has water levels displayed in real time at the district police station with a warning alarm linked to moderate, high and dangerous levels. The district police station in the administration centre was chosen as this is one of the few local offices that is manned 24 hours each day, and the police have good communications to the necessary agencies should a devastating flood strike, thus shortening the time needed for mobilisation and avoiding the need for the plea for help to come from the affected communities. One community member I met, mentioned that previously his family had spent two days living on their roof before an army helicopter was spotted heralding the arrival of assistance to their community.
Practical Action plans to roll out the system to other locations and is advocating for the system to be adopted nationwide. A first step was the demonstration of how effective and practical this technology can be to the United Nation’s hosted Nepal Risk Reduction Consortium a key platform driving Disaster Risk Reduction in the country. We are also exploring with key stakeholders how our developing expertise can be applied across borders to reach larger populations and to tackle more problematic early warning challenges such as Glacial Lake Outburst Floods and Landslides, so watch this space!No Comments » | Add your comment
Sometimes going back can spoil a good memory.
On my first visit to Bangladesh, to Gaibandha in the north, I was taken by boat across a broad, slow moving river to islands of homes created by Practical Action and riverside communities, whose homes, livestock and sometimes lives, were being lost on a regular basis, to increasingly severe flooding.
The project was called, ‘Disappearing Lands’, and had been funded by the Big Lottery Fund. The team worked with the communities to identify the poorest families who were most vulnerable to the floods and created a safe island home for them by building a raised platform of earth, on which were clustered one room homes, with space for a small homestead garden, together with emergency shelters for their livestock for when the floods came. The pleasure and pride these families took in their new homes was evident by their eagerness to show me inside. There was room to store pots, pans, clothes and blankets and a space for the parents to sleep on one side of the room, the children on the other.
Even in the last village I visited, completed only a few weeks before, small homestead gardens had been demarcated and the first shoots of spinach were unfolding. Seeing such obvious pleasure in their new, safe homes, was moving and was a good memory to leave with.
That was four years ago. I’m back again in Bangladesh with Karin Reiter, Group Corporate Responsibility Manager for the Z Zurich Foundation. The Foundation has supported Practical Action’s work with communities in the district of Sirajgonj, also vulnerable to flooding , where extremely poor families have so little that even a small life shock, such as illness, is enough to destroy their ability to survive. So flooding is truly devastating. We’re here to see how the project, V2R (Vulnerability to Resilience) is progressing and what lessons can be learned for the future.
Using the principles and lessons learned from Gaibandha, the V2R project is taking an holistic approach. As well as ensuring people’s homes and livestock are safe from rising water, people now have choices in the way that they can support themselves, so that they are no longer reliant on a single livelihood option, which could easily destroyed by one flood. They are also involved in preparing plans to respond to flooding so that people know what to do in times of emergencies, such as which evacuation route to take, where the shelter areas are, and how to ensure the safety of their livestock. And when the rising waters isolate them, they have the means, in an emergency, to transport a seriously ill person to a hospital using an ambulance boat.
We visited a cluster village, now home to 25 extreme poor families. We were shown round neat rooms, with outside cooking areas, and access to clean water with tube wells. They also have thriving businesses such weaving, crocheting and tailoring, as well as raising chicken and ducks, and the newly introduced rabbits – a sure-fire high production product!
What struck me most forcibly is that it’s the women who are the running these businesses and their confidence and determination is inspiring. With the money they’re making, they are paying for their children’s education, investing in their businesses and putting money by for emergencies.
There are still issues to be solved – how to provide affordable and sustainable energy, for example, to the communities (ensuring technology justice) – but the partnership between the Z Zurich Foundation and Practical Action is changing lives for the better for many children, women and men living beside the river in Sirajgong district, and the good memory of Bangladesh, and the impact of Practical Action’s work, remains very firmly intact!No Comments » | Add your comment
Return to Sender – address unknown
As the Elvis Presley song goes. Despite email, for most of us the idea of not having a physical address to give someone is unthinkable and it would be almost impossible to function – how would you get a passport, how would you open a bank account?
I’m a bit of a serial house mover, probably around eight houses in the last 30 years, not counting friends’ spare rooms, rented accommodation, etc. I love the whole process of house hunting, moving in, planning the decoration, spending contemplative evenings with the radio and paint brush, and then just when it’s all tickety boo, I find myself cruising the estate agents’ websites, checking out what ‘doer uppers’ are out there. This all comes at a price of course, letting people know that you’ve moved and then the irritation when an important piece of correspondence goes awry. But I have to remind myself, at least I have an address.
A completed cluster village
Back in 2009, I visited Bangladesh, to see Practical Action’s ‘Disappearing Lands’ project in Gaibandha, where we were working with communities forced by their poverty to live on land at the edge of the rivers, land not wanted by anyone else because of the increasingly regular and severe flooding following monsoon which shifted the soil. As a result, each monsoon left them vulnerable to loss of crops, livestock, homes, and sometimes their lives. With Practical Action’s support, cluster villages were constructed on soil platforms built by the communities, raising their homes above the flood line. These cluster villages provide housing, gardens, schools, clinics and emergency shelters for livestock for when the monsoon season arrives. One of the cluster villages I visited had just been completed, but already gardens were fenced, crops planted, and people were busy setting up craft businesses to earn additional income. Amongst this busy, thriving community, I met a grandmother, standing in the doorway of her new house. She wanted to share with me her delight in her new home. That I completely understood! But what surprised me was her great excitement and immense pride in having an address. I just hadn’t thought about it before. For her, having an address meant that she existed, she lived somewhere permanently, she could tell someone exactly where she lived that day, where she would be next year, and hopefully for the rest of her life. Having an address gave her kudos.
I’m visiting Bangladesh again in a couple of weeks with a great Foundation, Z Zurich Foundation, which has supported our project, ‘Vulnerability to Resilience (V2R)’, for almost five years, continuing our work with communities in flood prone areas. I’m looking forward to seeing many of the ideas from our Gaibandha project helping others to finally have an address.No Comments » | Add your comment
Hobbits, hyacinths and happiness
Who would’ve thought that hyacinths and happiness would go together so well? But they do in flood prone Bangladesh. Practical Action works with some of the poorest people, forced by their poverty to live on land that shifts with the annual floods, so nowhere is ever really home, and making a garden is an act of faith. With water comes water hyacinth in abundance, a weed which Practical Action helps communities turn into floating gardens – an example of a really simple technology that works wonderfully well. The hyacinth leaves, supported by bamboo poles, are woven into a bed, on which is laid soil, into which seeds for lettuces, okra, sweet onions, pumpkins, etc., are planted. The plants’ roots reach down through the hyacinth bed to the flood waters, and nature does the rest. What could be simpler? It doesn’t have to be just hyacinth leaves; any material can be used to create a floating garden in this way, enabling food to still be grown when floods make normal planting impossible, bringing happiness to communities who previously struggled to meet their families’ food needs.
This is just one example of a project which Trusts and Foundations are helping Practical Action implement….and we have many more for which we need support. If you’re a Trustee of a Trust or Foundation and would like to know more, contact me on Liz.Frost@practicalaction.org.uk.
And the hobbits? They don’t have anything to do with floating gardens I’m afraid, but being keen gardeners themselves and enjoying at least six meals a day, I think they would really approve of such a simple but productive technology.No Comments » | Add your comment
Could better market systems help people rebuild their lives after the disaster of river erosion?
Jashim, Mahbub and I drove to Jamalpur in northern Bangladesh this morning. It was a fine cool morning with sunlight dappling the tree-shaded road – and plenty of activity to admire in surrounding fields, fish-ponds and homesteads. After crossing the mighty Jamuna river near Tangail, we took a relatively minor route snaking along tree-lined embankments between paddies rich with fields of winter rice and freshly planted vegetables. The road was busy with bicycles, rickshaws and small lorries laden with jute, but it was a relief to have few of the heavy trucks and careering buses that terrorise the main road to Dhaka.
An hour after crossing the huge river, we entered Sorishabari near a village called Amtola. Suddenly I was surprised to find the road almost walled-in by sheets of corrugated iron assembled on wooden frames. Walls inset with shuttered windows, and bricks stood piled at the edge of the tarmac. I realised I was looking at dozens of flat-packed houses, stacked more or less neatly at the side of the road, like goods in some unlikely, out-sized IKEA warehouse.
Walking between homes a few yards from the road, we stumbled out of the trees onto a desolate scene. Fertile fields ended abruptly at a plummeting edge: the freshly eroded bank of the river. All around, the sad remnants of homes – foundations torn, walls razed, a lonely tube-well, the pathetic remains of a kitchen hearth. A neighbour explained that the families had desperately demolished their homes to save the materials from the encroaching river. “How far has the river bank moved this year?” Jashim asked. “Two kilometres!” the man replied. “It obliterated four villages.”
Later I learned that during an unprecedented third flood event this summer, the main flow of the Jamuna river unexpectedly changed course at this point. It rapidly ate into land that must have felt safe-as-houses to its residents only weeks earlier.
We moved along the bank a small distance, and met a family whose home, but little of their land, had just about survived the summer erosion. An old man, Razib, and his two sons greeted us warmly – optimistic perhaps that this visiting foreigner was an omen of assistance. The women kept a discrete distance. A young deshi cow and her calf were tethered to a wicker manger full of rice straw, and a couple of fat chickens scavenged as close as they dared to a modest harvest of rice drying in the sun. The bank here was crumbling and vertiginous. I could imagine it too, collapsing and sliding in moments into the muddy abyss twenty feet below. How do they sleep at night?
“What are you going to do?” we asked. The old man pointed through the midday haze – over the abyss at his feet and half a mile across the water – to a vast island of sand and silt emerging mid-river. “We will move there, and start again – on the chars.”
Chars is the Bangla word for the sand-banks, mud-flats and islands that form and re-form in the great rivers of Bangladesh: the Jamuna, Padma, Teesta etc. They accumulate during the summer from eroded sediment washed downstream by monsoon rains, and emerge as the flood-water recedes – sometimes forming islands that endure for ten or twenty years before the meandering river consumes them once more. In recent decades, as population pressures on the mainland have grown, chars land in northern Bangladesh has become refuge and home to more than two million people – mainly victims of river bank erosion. They usually arrive with barely any assets.
Rebuilding a farming livelihood on the chars is desperately hard. Having lost any land they held title to, migrating families are frequently at the mercy of local mastaan (or muscle-men) linked to ‘influential’ land-owners and political chiefs, who control the new chars land. Land must be leased (or share-cropped) from often ruthless ‘land-owners’. Most terrain is liable to flooding during the summer months, but due to low water-retention of the sandy soils, also prone to drought for half the year. Men often have to migrate seasonally to cities and richer agricultural areas for work, leaving women-headed families vulnerable to abuse. Meanwhile, the displacement that drove most households on to the chars often disrupts the social networks that women in poorer households rely upon for mutual support.
On young chars, especially, there is usually no infrastructure: no roads, no schools, no medical facilities, no irrigation, no electricity nor other basic services. Transport of goods to and from markets is expensive and slow. In the summer, when waters are high, boats ply between the chars and ghats (landing stages) on the mainland. The ghats too are controlled by mastaan, who levy taxes of their own devising on the farmers and traders. When the river recedes, transport options are usually worse – with char villages often stranded far from the water’s edge across baking stretches of trackless, sandy soil. As a result, despite large (seasonal) expanses of land, markets for agricultural inputs and services are feeble, the economic output of chars land is low and the poverty of most households is intense.
My companions on the journey today, Jashim and Mahbub, are project officers for a recently started poverty-reduction programme called M4C. Making Markets Work on the Chars – a five year joint-initiative between Practical Action Bangladesh, Practical Action Consulting and Swisscontact, that is paid for by the Swiss government (SDC). We were on our way to Jamalpur to help run a workshop that brought together char farmers (like Razib), input suppliers, traders and agricultural service providers to explore how these diverse ‘market actors’ might work out practical solutions to some of these challenges. The workshop used a process called Participatory Market Mapping: creating a space for people, who do not normally talk on equal terms, to understand each other, discuss how different crop sectors (maize, chilli, jute etc) work, learn what each others’ needs and problems are, and begin to build trust and explore different ways of doing business together to make these ‘market systems’ work better – particularly for poorer farmers.
Unlike many donor-funded projects, M4C will not be handing out money or goods to poor households. It will instead be supporting and relying on the char farmers’ capabilities to work out mutually-beneficial solutions to their problems: to work out better deals with each other, and involve the private sector in innovative ways. Helping farmers work out how to coordinate and bulk up their production is one clear opportunity – since this quickly reduces transport costs for input suppliers and traders, and gives them a good reason to enlarge their business activities and provide better services on new chars. This is a key step in enabling chars households better access to income and opportunities spilling over from expanding markets in the thriving towns and cities of the ‘mainland’.
It take time for people to build trust and devise new ways of working together effectively. M4C’s approach is not instant palliative relief, but a long-term strategy for transforming access to services and income opportunities on the chars. We believe that initiatives that stem from farmers’ and other market actors’ own ideas, and that align naturally with their interests, are much more likely to endure, and spread spontaneously to other locations. Entrepreneurial traders, input-suppliers and service providers will copy business ideas that work, taking good ideas to new chars, and extending the impact of our work far beyond what we could ever achieve directly. With this vision, M4C is geared to achieving changes that are intrinsically long-lasting and reach significant numbers of poor households.1 Comment » | Add your comment
“One of the most fateful errors of our age is the belief that ‘the problem of production’ has been solved.” E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful, Economics as if people mattered.
The global food system is close to breaking point: growing populations and dramatic changes in dietary habits are fuelling increasing demand. Whilst increasing severity of natural disasters and escalating competition for water resources are further complicating the situation. The food system’s vulnerability is characterised by soaring food prices and more frequent food crises.
So, the question facing us today is how can increasing demand be met when conventional yields are flatlining? Is the solution to be found in the research laboratory, or is there a cheaper, sustainable and already tested solution staring us in the face?
Today, over 500 million smallholder farmers, fishers and agro-foresters supply food, fuel and fibre to almost 2 billion people living in the poorest and most vulnerable communities around the world.
A recent visit to the people living in Wokin Kebele in Amhara region of Ethiopia highlighted the difficulties that these people face in accessing support. The government extension office was over one hour drive away on an unmade road and was staffed by a handful of government officials who have significant demands placed upon them. As a consequence the villagers that I met were self-reliant. They used basic technology and largely renewable inputs. If these smallholder farmers were to receive one tenth of the support available to farmers in developed countries, their production gains would be considerable.
The potential for production gains with more investment is show in the entrepreneurial way that these farmers have innovated using their own resources. I visited one farmer who had developed a new plough to cope with increased water logging in low lying fields and met a second who had started to plant small areas of Teff (Eragrostis tef), a traditional Ethiopian staple, as warming winter temperatures allowed cultivation of the crop in an area that was previously unsuitable.
However, to encourage further local innovation as a vanguard to smallholder-led growth, a major transformation of the global agricultural system is required. This would reward innovation and optimise production by making the most of each unit of existing agricultural land.
The first step of such a transformation would be a change in the way in which small scale production is viewed, recognising the benefits of the diversity, traditional skills and potential for crop improvements that smallholder systems present.
The second step would recognise the potential for human agency and requires a change in the future choice for smallholder farmers. Smallholder producers should be offered appropriate rewards that recognise their role as custodians of the planet. Rather than repeating the mistakes of the past and driving smallholders off their land through the gradual conversion of small-scale into large-scale industrial systems, a new and alternative agricultural future for smallholder farmers should be promoted. A future that meets their livelihood aspirations while delivering a global food system that doesn’t cost the Earth.
What I saw in Ethiopia reconfirmed my belief that by improving the capacity of the poorest performing producers, the largest gains in terms of global food production can be made. Importantly these gains would be delivered where they are needed most.
This BLOG is based on work undertaken while Colin worked for Oxfam and was originally published on their Policy and Practice website. http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/No Comments » | Add your comment
My trip up north, as I have always shared, comes with many lessons for me. This time I had a personal objective. My mission was not just to pick peculiar aspects of the Cushitic culture but to learn a word or two. The ‘classes’ were random. All my acquaintances were my teachers. They all wanted to teach me a word or two. The daring ones ensured I sang along to their satisfaction. I enjoyed their enthusiasm.
At the Mora geel
Among many new lexicons I managed to comfortably take home with me was the word mora geel. Mora geel is a place where camels are sheltered. It is the same place where camels are milked. It was easy to memorize since I was leading a team of videographers to document Practical Action’s innovative camel milk project in Mandera County. And in our numerous trips to capture the moods, the changes, interview locals and filming the environment in general, I noticed that a lady milking a camel’s stubby udders at sunrise is not a novelty, but a daily chore to get milk valued by their tribe for generations.
So how do I say I want camel milk, I asked? Cano geel ayan raba said my teacher.
To them milking of camels is not only an act of work, but an integral part of the local culture and heritage. The milking itself has its own rules. Two teats are left for the calf, while the other two are milked-out for the family. The milk is either consumed fresh or sour.
This arid region in northern Kenya, like much of the greater horn of Africa, has in recent years been hit with less predictable and more intense droughts. Many pastoralists have lost their mainstay – livestock. The changing weather condition has not only led to loss in thousands of livestock but it has also hindered cow’s milk production. However, the value of the camels has been boosted. Milk and meat from the animal now enjoys the highest prices in the market, both nationally and internationally.
Although camels are more expensive to buy than cows, they are cheaper to keep and their milk fetches more on the market. Camel milk is said to be three times as rich in Vitamin C and is known to be rich in iron, unsaturated fatty acids and B vitamins,” according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s website.
According to Viola Sugut, Practical Action’s project officer, “Camels produce milk all year round and produce when other livestock stop or die from dehydration. This ensures a steady income for the family. Businesses have also been established selling camel milk and other milk products like yoghurt and sweets. This has generated a lot of interest among local women and other women are looking at the Bulla women’s group and seeing that they can also just come out and participate in business,” she explained.
The women milk traders have found their niche says Sugut. The women’s business model has proved to be successful. The hope is that camel milk will continue to empower women, feed their families and change lives in Mandera.No Comments » | Add your comment
Why on earth did I agree to do this? Surely I must be old enough to know better! These were the thoughts running through my mind on Thursday, as I stood outside a London tube station clad in wetsuit, mask and snorkel engaging with bemused members of the public. Why, you may well ask?
Many areas of London near the Thames are likely to be underwater by 2100. A small group from Practical Action were handing out tube maps showing what London might look like then – hence the scuba gear.
Londoners fortunately have time to prepare for this but for the people of Bangladesh the crisis is already unfolding. Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world and already half of the country can be inundated during the floods.
At an event in County Hall tonight Nazmul Chowdhury will be talking about his work with some of the poorest people in Bangladesh. Nazmul supervised Practical Action projects with communities who face frequent flooding. We are building flood proof housing, embankments and refuges as well as providing training for alternative livelihoods for flooded areas such as fish and duck rearing. Floating gardens and pumpkin growing are two of our proven technologies which help people to adapt to the changing climate.
But much, much more needs to be done. Millions of people facing the effects of climate change in Bangladesh should have a chance of adapting to a future of more severe flooding. Currently, less than 10% of climate finance is spent on adaptation – we want this to increase to 50% - join our campaign on Twitter to apply pressure.No Comments » | Add your comment
Here in the UK we’ve probably had the biggest rainfall in years. There have been regular news stories about floods affecting people, houses and roads (apart from the hosepipe ban debacle), and it’s all very inconvenient, and for some, costly.
But imagine living in Bangladesh where nearly a quarter of the country is regularly flooded and at times 50% of the country is underwater. Where people’s livelihoods are swept away in the monsoon season – and others become stranded for months on end. In June this year 100 people died and 250,000 were marooned. Life during the monsoon season in Bangladesh is more than inconvenient. That’s why Practical Action is working with some of the poorest communities to help them prevent the devastation caused by flooding and the unpredictability of the rainy season caused by climate change.
I recently visited some of Practical Action’s work in Bangladesh. Here’s my video blog about what I saw.
Help to us to carry on helping those affected by flooding in Bangladesh: take our Nightrider challenge and tell your friends.No Comments » | Add your comment
I feel so strong
These were the words of a woman member of the Rural Service Centre (RSC) co-operative I visited today. I didn’t get her name, which my colleagues in communications will tell me off about – but she spoke so softly I had to strain to hear, and she spoke even more quietly when saying her name. Others then cut in to tell their stories and I couldn’t go back – sorry!
She said in answer to my question what do you value about the RSC? “I feel so strong. I am from a livestock group and rear bulls. Before we had RSC I got at most 8000 Taka a year, now I have a shorter season between breeding and I can make 24,000 Taka a year. The training on feed was very useful. I can make the combination I was shown how to make and my feeding practice has changed – before I used to feed only straw. I have invested the extra money back in my small farm and am trying to buy another bull.”
Another lady added, “I started with one bull, and then I invested and bought a second bull, now I have three.”
The testimony of these two ladies and the fact that they were reinvesting in their small businesses was a great sign of success. Others then went on to speak, talking about being able to purchase seed at lower cost, selling their produce through the centre being easier and saving transport costs, learning about artificial insemination, how to deworm goats, etc.
The RSC centre is an initiative of Practical Action together with the community, set up just 15 months ago. It helps the community bulk-buy essential inputs for their farms – such as worming tablets for bulls – and acts as a joint marketing initiative, saving on transport costs and making sure the farmers get the best price for their crops.
I wanted to know how the RSC was now owned, as Practical Action, having ensured its sustainability, moved to having only a watching brief a few months ago. I am not anti-business (enterprise can be a great model for successful sustainability and scale) and asked if it was an enterprise or a communal effort?
The President, Mr Shuttann, might have been offended and had a somewhat different view of business versus community, saying, “I run the centre not because of profit but because of honour, I take pride in being the President of the group. All the profit goes back to our savings account in the bank. We use our savings to buy different equipment needed by farmers which we then rent out to them – we’ve bought some things already and are thinking of buying a net that we can rent out to our fishermen. We would like to imagine in the future being a centre for credit for farmers at a lower rate than the 25% for weekly payment currently charged by BRAC or Grameen – the credit they can now get.”
The RSC is owned by the farmers, and the President – who receives no salary – says he finds it an honour to represent his community. The RSC originally started with 10 groups but recently, because they have seen how successful the members of the RSC are, another group has joined. In total they now represent over 250 small farmers. Each group has one executive committee member which meets each month to take decisions, receive orders for inputs etc.
Alongside this collective purchasing and marketing the centre also acts as a base for Practical Action-trained paravets, who provide animal treatment and advice on growing crops.
And finally, today I heard about the simplest technological innovation we’ve introduced – ever. I am sure it was learnt from traditional farming – sticks! Yes, sticks – you stick the sticks at regular intervals in your field above the height of the fully grown crop. Birds land on them, watch the ground and crops and eat any insects they see. It’s a kind of reverse-engineered scarecrow! I’d never thought of using sticks in this way, neither had the farmers, but someone somewhere in Practical Action had –No Comments » | Add your comment