If you were hoping for an environmental twist on ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, I would move on now. But if you’re interested in how communities living in the cloud forests of Peru and Bolivia are beginning to experience the fifty shades of green forest that their ancestors once enjoyed, then read on.
For many years, settlers have lived in areas of the forests also inhabited by the Awajun, the indigenous communities. Renting land from the Awajun, the settlers’ preferred method of farming was to clear away the forest and plant seasonal crops to feed their families until the quality of the soil was so depleted that it was no longer productive. The families then had to move on. This was clearly not sustainable and led to conflict with the Awajun, whose land no longer had any value.
Working with the Awajun and settlers, Practical Action researched how the forests used to look, using local knowledge to identify the diversity of plants and trees (hence the fifty shades of green) that once grew naturally in the area. Using this knowledge, we worked with the communities to find ways of recreating the cloud forests while still providing them with a realistic living. An agro-forestry system was devised, which ensures that areas of indigenous forest are conserved for future generations, while at the same time communities are able diversify their crops, for eating and selling. I love the diagram below, illustrating simply how by working together, the Awajun and the settlers really can bring ‘fifty shades of green’ back into their lives now, and for future generations. It’s also a partnership beyond the cloud forest communities – we have been able to achieve this because of the partnership with three great Foundations: Innocent foundation, Waterloo Foundation and Z Zurich Foundation.
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Wise Men, camels, a journey – remind you of anything?
It reminds me of Practical Action’s Posts for Peace work in Darfur, Sudan. Let me explain.
My all-time favourite poem is T.S. Eliot’s Journey of the Magi, which tells the story of the Wise Men making the long and arduous trek to visit the baby Jesus. Finding him, having left summer palaces and endured hardship, T S Eliot sums up the meeting with the phrase ‘It was (you may say) satisfactory’. I am moved by the understatement and simplicity.
I had the same sense of simplicity yet profound impact when I first heard of our Posts for Peace work.
North Darfur, in Sudan, has few roads, a lot of sand and an on-going history of violent conflict. When I visited, people talked of the impact of the conflict, of desperately trying to make a living, wanting to stay in their villages and maintain their communities. Not wanting to go to the refugee camps, where they’d receive dwindling aid handouts, trapping them into dependency. I met lots of people who had hugely positive stories of working with Practical Action, but I met one guy whose story was more mixed.
Hashim worked with Practical Action to irrigate his land enabling him to farm vegetables. Year 1 was brilliant – his crops flourished, he could feed his family, his wife and three sons and one daughter, and had some extra he could sell so as to buy vital necessities. Year 2 was much more difficult, as the rains were poor, but even so, using the water harvesting and irrigation techniques he’d learnt, his crops grew and were doing well. He knew that given the poor harvest everyone was experiencing he was likely to get a good price, and incredibly thankful. But food was hard for everyone and as his crop ripened nomadic pastoralists came in the night, their animals were hungry and they drove them onto his land. His crop was gone.
I asked what he was going to do? He spoke of replanting, of trusting God and waiting for the next harvest. He also spoke of he and his neighbours fighting off the pastoralists should they seek to take his crops again. This man who seemed so peaceful was spurred to what he saw as righteous anger in defence of his family.
Practical Action is a practical and pragmatic organisation. We use technology – often very simple – to help people improve their lives. In our Posts for Peace work the technology, concrete posts, couldn’t be more simple, but the process and ultimately impact is something different. The Posts for Peace can make life better for Hashim, for his neighbours and for pastoralist communities.
Wise Men – Mohammed Siddiq, our Lead in Darfur for over 20 years. Siddiq has dedicated his life to helping practically the people of Darfur. Mohammed Mazjoub, our Sudan Country Director who retired a few months ago, and who was instrumental in making the Posts for Peace work a success.
Camels – A hugely valuable animal to the pastoralists and amazingly adapted to desert life. Camels will be the most valuable asset poor pastoralist families own. Practical Action has worked with pastoralist communities for example establishing para-vets able to vaccinate and treat simple diseases in animals. This work means we are trusted not only by the settled farmers but by the pastoralists too.
The Journey – I wasn’t thinking of the journey made by the pastoralists. Rather the journey of the communities who, with the help of Practical Action, negotiated a way that could work for both settled farming and pastoralist families. This wasn’t easy especially in a community where war and day-to-day violence is the norm.
Let me and try to explain the problem – and solution
The first diagram shows settled farmland –as the pastoralists’ animals move across it they fan out, destroying crops as they go.
In the second diagram the settled farmland remains the same but as the pastoralists move through they follow a route agreed between them and the farmers.
Through our Posts for Peace the route is demarked and both communities have agreed to adhere to the route.
Farmers can farm, pastoralists continue to be nomadic. Both communities can flourish. A simple yet life changing solution.
One of my friends seeing the photos said ‘but there isn’t even a bit of wire between the posts’. When communities have guns, it’s agreement not wire that works.
Wise men, camels and a journey – Our Posts for Peace work offers a further glimmer of hope for Darfur this Christmas.
For Hashim and his family I hope the posts provide a gift of peace this Christmas.
In December 2012, Margaret spoke to Premier Radio about this project and the incredible impact it is having.No Comments » | Add your comment
If, like me, you’re filled with excitement at the thought of tonight’s final of The Great British Bake Off, I think you’ll enjoy this story of how the fortunes of Peruvian baker Luz Marina Cusci Cáceres have been transformed, with a little help from Practical Action.
It is a Thursday morning in September 2012, and visitors are gradually arriving at a huge food festival that is a highlight for many Peruvians. Within a few hours, the place will be packed with hungry diners and long queues will form at the myriad food stalls. There is no respite for Luz Marina Cusi Cáceres, who has just returned to her stall after she has run out of stock. Her stall is to be found among the organic producers section, where delicious home-grown Peruvian goods are sold.
But what is so special about Luz Marina? And what does her story have to do with Practical Action?
Several years ago Luz Marina participated in Practical Action’s project ‘Development of productive uses of electricity in the Cusco region’. During her participation in this project, she developed her baking knowledge, and learnt how to bake traditional kiwicha [a traditional Peruvian cereal] biscuits in a more efficient manner.
Luz Marina used to make kiwicha products by hand until Practical Action came to her town, San Salvador, and worked with the community to introduce a variety of electricity-generating technologies such as solar panels.
“We knew nothing about electrified machinery before, but with the help of Practical Action engineers we began using kitchen appliances, like the electric whisk, which need electricity to operate.”
Luz Marina had always sold kiwicha, but she did not do anything to the raw kiwicha to add real value to it. An Italian woman in the town who knew how to make biscuits shared her baking skills with Luz Marina.
“She taught me that I could sell biscuits made out of kiwicha, which would fetch higher prices at market than raw kiwicha products.”
Once Luz Marina learnt how to bake the biscuits, rumours of her delicious culinary treats spread across town, and people started asking for more.
“People would eat them and then buy them. So I kept making the biscuits better, and although there is still room for improvement, I am now a much better baker than I was before. In 2009 I decided to start a baking business with three of my friends who also cook with kiwicha. It is very helpful to work as a group; we have a lot of confidence, we know each other, and we are united.”
The real turning point came when Luz Marina met a customer named Hugo. He was so impressed by the biscuits and the commitment of Luz Marina and her friends he helped the bakers to obtain the official hygiene certification they needed in order to sell their products in larger markets.
“Now we sell our biscuits in Ayacucho and San Gerónimo. We have to stock the stalls with 1000 packets every two weeks! What would we do without electricity? We use an electric whisk to make our biscuits. It saves us time and means we can make better quality biscuits that sell in their thousands! We still need more encouragement from the council though – it would help if they advertised and promoted our products.”
In addition to the biscuits, Luz Marina and the bakers are now selling kiwicha-based pastries and honey. At the bustling food festival these have been hugely popular.
“We have sold 6000 packets of biscuits in three days! I am very grateful to Practical Action – without electricity we could not have made a productive or profitable living from baking. The electricity has transformed our baking. And baking has changed our lives”.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
Further along the embankment we stopped to talk with another family. Two years ago Practical Action identified Moniva Begum as needing help towards a sustainable livelihood, and provided her with three sheep. Two years later she has eight, four of whom are pregnant (one due any minute), and has sold a further eight.
I asked what they had used the money for? Her husband put his arm around her and said, “My wife was ill now she is well – we used the money to pay for her to go to hospital.” I’ve found that you rarely see public displays of affection between husband and wife in Bangladesh and this was just lovely. Moniva then added, “Of course we also fixed the roof too,” pointing to a new tin roof on their small house. I think she was worried in case anyone would think she spent all that money on herself!
They believe they have earned about 24,000Taka in 2 years by selling sheep – that’s about £200 I think – but it’s made a huge difference in their lives.
To the question, are sheep better than goats – the answer was very firmly sheep. When I dug more I was surprised: “Goats are trouble, they get angry, they wander around and make trouble with your neighbours. Sheep are calm.”
Good reason to have sheep, I thought!No Comments » | Add your comment
Now, I know about floating gardens, I’ve seen them before and think they are fantastic. I also know about pit cultivation and have spoken with families who have benefitted hugely by growing and selling pumpkins. But until today I didn’t know that with some communities we do both!
Today I travelled to Rangpur, a district in the far North of Bangladesh. I met with communities living on the very edge of the river – precarious banks deeply susceptible to river erosion, but for these people there is nowhere else to go.
Mohammed Munis Ali told me how he had lost his home three times to the river, making it difficult for him to care for his family. Now, with the help of Practical Action, he has two ways to earn a living and provide food for his family – in the rainy season he tends his two floating gardens, while in the dry season when the river recedes he grows pumpkins using the Practical Action pit cultivation technology. He also uses the old floating gardens as compost to improve his pumpkin yields.
He and the other members of the community talked about lives changed and lives saved, about being able to work and provide for their families. They were really positive about the help they had received from Practical Action, our local staff and the innovation the community had continued – showing off new crops they had trialled and found to be successful.
There are 20 families in the community and each family have two floating gardens – they’ve shared out the water space between them. They told me that in six months they have between six and eight harvests, on average harvesting 40kg of veg per harvest (mainly Kang Kong, which is quick growing, but also okra, red onions and other veg). I asked the ladies what they thought: ‘Great to have food, great to have veg, but tastes slightly different – but we are used to it now,’ they said.
As were leaving the village, walking on the embankment, one young man started to dissent from the others – he was shouting slightly and wanted to be heard. He didn’t want to grow pumpkins or make and cultivate floating gardens – it was too hard work; he wanted a job. What can we do to help?
Our project manager spoke about how he had grown up in a family impacted by river erosion – they had lost their home too – but education had been his escape: he’d worked hard, been clever and now had a good career and was working for Practical Action. I don’t think it satisfied the guy who at probably 20 was maybe too old to go back to school, but I did like his passion for more, his push for development and his willingness to speak out. The other members of the community eventually shushed him and talked of a ladder, one step at a time and things will get better.
It is brilliant that we can help – but when, like here, we are working with people who are counted as the poorest of the poor in Bangladesh, it’s not surprising that the young are ambitious for more. I am not young and fit, but when I was, I think I too would have thought this a very difficult way to make a living.
This only served to emphasise to me how hard working and committed to caring for their families the villagers were. Mohammed Munis Ali must, like me, have been in his early 50s, and is doing all he can to keep his family going. It is very hard but they do it!
On a very practical note, the project manager also talked about pumpkin cultivation combined with smaller squash – both have a good market, but the small squash takes only half the time to grow, meaning you can get a quicker return for your labour. When the pit cultivation starts in December they plan on testing some with both squash and pumpkin and think it may be possible to get two good crops from one pit – nearly twice the return for the same labour.
Hopefully another small step on the ladder out of poverty for this community.No Comments » | Add your comment
Every time I visit northern Kenya I learn a thing or two. Sometimes the learning is overwhelming. Most times I marvel at how rich their resilient lifestyle and culture is. I have learnt from the paradox of the complex lifestyle clothed in simplicity. Increasingly, I have developed a passion for observing nomadic pastoralists and their way of life. I am sure pastoralist way of life is full of new learning for everyone.
From the scenic environments, the rich fauna and flora, to the rich culture and the people, the images are hard to forget. The beauty of the locals cannot be overemphasised. The hospitable, usually happy people, are hard to part with. Despite the unforgiving environmental harshness, you always want to stay longer.
I was in Mandera in early this month. Exactly a year since I last visited the area. Unlike in my last trip to the vast region when the area was strewn with carcasses of domestic animals due to the now cyclical and prolonged droughts, the weather was friendly. It was cold, very cold as per the locals’ definitions of cold. It was their ‘winter season’ as one Alikhery Mohammed put it. I put winter in inverted commas since the temperatures were about 20-24 degrees Celsius.
The last time I was in Mandera, I was leading a team of 10 international journalists covering the devastating drought. The visit was sponsored by The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA). We not only gave prominence to aspects that were not being highlighted by other agencies (the plight of animals and the need to secure a nucleus herd for each household in order to recoup after the drought) and media houses but also officially launched an emergency program that aimed at ensuring the locals retain a nucleus herd. As with last year the team visited Borehole 11 village in Elwak and selected sites around Mandera County. But this time, I was leading a team of consultants to film, produce and package short films on our projects in the area. The details of our mission are a subject of discussion for another time.
One specific feature caught my attention this time. The singing wells of Lebihia village, Mandera County. It started with the organisation by the herders, their animals’ urge to quench their thirst and the musical approach the locals fulfilled their animals’ needs. From the vast fields, the animals run to the wells from all directions. In response to their shepherds’ commands, they cheer each other as they run towards the water troughs by the rehabilitated shallow wells.
They (animals) converse in low tones as they approach the watering troughs. And with little commotion, they line up and take their positions on both sides of the troughs. Their conversations decrease as they settle to drink their fill. Others wait for their turn to drink too. All the while, the livestock owners and handlers are busy fetching clean water for their animals.
They sing melodious songs (in local dialects) as they pick; roll-down the ropes and bucket to the shallow wells and as they pull the bucketful of water and pour onto the ever decreasing volume of water in the troughs. The rope and bucket technology is one of the appropriate technologies Practical Action has supported in the area. It is affordable and easy to maintain.
The unified voices of the singers are inviting. And as if in agreement, the animals have learnt to – in turns – appreciate the euphonious melodies from their owners and handlers by sprinkling a few millilitres of their share of water and by twisting their tails and raising their heads in an orchestrated manner.
Some spillage is reserved for their herders/handlers who oversee them as they drink from the troughs. Am sure some of the older animals spill some water from their mouths as a sign of their gratitude to their ancestors. The Moooo, Meeeee and HeeeeHoooo sounds surrounding the troughs is enough proof that the animals being watered are not new to the lyrics of the songs. They have learnt to honourably acknowledge the heaps of praise from their owners as they quench their thirst.
“The songs we sing serve two main purposes. We sing to praise our animals: for their beauty, their ability to reproduce regularly and to commend them for their obedience. Additionally we sing to encourage ourselves as we fetch water for our animals,” explained Abdi Hassan, a herder.
And when all the animals have had their share, the herders take turns to cool their systems with the remaining waters in the troughs. It was interesting to witness other owners and herders pour numerous buckets of water on the soloist as he comfortably squatted on one of the troughs as he led the rest on with the song’s lyrics to the climax. ‘It must be a very fulfilling practice,’ I thought. So, where did they learn this, I asked?
“This aspect of our lives is historical. It’s been practised for many years. It is handed over to the next generation with each generational change,” explained Ali Noor, a local.
And when I asked about the future of this unique practice, Noor was quick to say, ‘this is something that is at the core of our lifestyle. It will not die.’
As I put myself to rest that night, I could vividly remember the images at the wells. I tried to find an equivalent in my culture in vain. I scribbled it on my note book and promised myself to ask my kinsmen when I go back home.6 Comments » | Add your comment
Over the last 48 hours I have listened in horror to the tragic news of the shootings of the British family in the French Alps. The detail that makes me shudder most, that fills me with the deepest distress, is the fact that the youngest child, a four year old girl, was so scared that she sheltered under the legs of her murdered mother for eight hours. I cannot imagine the fear and utter trauma that must now envelop her, and her critically ill seven year old sister.
That sense of terror, of shell shock, reminded me of a story I heard in Sudan. I interviewed a woman called Sara, who aged 21, is only a few years younger than me. She told me how when she was only five, government soldiers stormed into her village and shot everyone they could see. She was so frightened she could not move.
Sara’s story is one of dignity and of hope and of survival against all odds. But above all, it is a story of one woman’s strength. I think you will find it an inspirational and a moving one. I hope so anyway.
“I was born in Al Llafa, near Fato, in Kassala, in the east of Sudan.
I remember the first day the war came to Al Llafa. It was in 1996. It was early morning, the first day of Eid and my best friend and I were holding hands and walking through our village, going to the celebrations. At that moment, we heard gun shots. We couldn’t make it back to our families in time, because of the fighting. I was separated from my mother and was so scared. Most of the villagers fled, they ran into the desert and hid. But I could not move. My friend and I stayed together, cowering under a bush, and then under the cover of the night we found our families. I still have nightmares about the sound of the guns. A school friend was hit by a shell. We had to travel to a safe place in the same truck as her dead body. I still remember the smell of the blood. For months afterwards I couldn’t eat or drink anything, I felt so sick all the time. The smell of the blood.
Organisations like the Red Crescent came to provide shelter and build a camp for the people who were fleeing the war. We stayed in this camp, in little tents. My whole family in one tent – my parents and my three brothers and my four sisters. We lived in that tent for two years, until I was seven.
Then another NGO came and helped us to build some new houses in Fato. Slowly, very slowly, we have rebuilt our lives.
I didn’t go to school for two years. I was just in a constant state of shock and also my parents had no way of earning money for the school fees. They had been farmers in Al Llafa but when we fled, we left the land. It was an impossible time. We used to get food from some of the kind people in the village, and from the World Food Programme. My parents used to sell the food from WFP so they could earn enough money for my school fees. We were hungry but at least I was getting an education.
Sometimes I can’t believe my childhood was like that. I can’t believe I got through it.
I left school when I was 15. I didn’t pass my Maths and English exams. Since then I have stayed at home helping the family.
Every day I get up at 6am, pray, and I clean the house. I cook our breakfast. It’s my job because I have siblings younger than me. The duties are divided between me and my sisters. The boys don’t do very much.
We buy water from the water tank in the village and my father goes to get the firewood. We cook on an open fire which means that there is lots of smoke inside the house. It can be difficult for our chest and our eyes.
We get electricity in our home by using our neighbour’s generator. This means we have can have light. The main reason for getting electricity though is so my siblings can read in the evenings. We’ve had it for one year and it has changed our lives, although we can’t afford it all the time, and we can’t afford our own generator.
During the afternoon I’ll make coffee for the family and then I cook dinner. In the evenings I help my brothers with their homework. Then we pray. Then we sleep. My days are very busy.
I am a member of the Village Development Committee which Practical Action helped us to set up. I was nominated by my village to be in the VDC because I am strong-minded and have my own opinions. The men worry about women like me. The fact that I completed my school education was also a good thing. No-one had a bad word to say about me.
One of the things our VDC has done, with Practical Action’s guidance, is set up a social fund. Everyone pays in a small fee to a central pot each month and then if someone gets sick there is money to help the ill person and their family. All the villagers will also come together and help that sick person with the farming work – planting seeds or harvesting, or whatever needs doing.
Practical Action has also trained me on food processing. I was one of 30 women who participated in the training. We learned how to make jams, spaghetti, cakes, biscuits, juices, and chutneys – all of this from the produce we grow on the land. Food processing is a wonderful thing for us because it helps us to make our food last longer and also get more value from what we sell at market. Instead of selling a pumpkin, we can sell the pumpkin chutney we make, which enables us to earn more money.
I’m proud of myself because food processing helps me to make a living and also take care of my family. For example, I am paying for my brother to go to school so he can have a chance at life.
I am so happy that now I have skills because I can earn money to have control over my own life. My Dad cannot tell me what to do. I have freedom. Thank God for this.
As a child I had no hope. I never thought I would be strong enough to live again. I am happy Practical Action has changed my life in a way that brings our community together. Before everyone was isolated, as if we were all existing in our own separate shells. But now we are connected. And the men in my village respect my contribution to the development of our community. I never ever thought I’d have the chance to come to Khartoum. I didn’t even have to ask my Dad’s permission. I could just come, because I wanted to. Because now I am free.”
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A new report published today suggests that up to 1.6 million people in Zimbabwe will require food aid next year. http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2012/aug/01/zimbabwe-food-shortages-aid
This is an appalling position to be in. Zimbabwe used to be Southern Africa’s breadbasket – producing and exporting food but a combination of poor rainfalls and political turmoil have reduced their output dramatically. The problems are exacerbated by a lack of skills, inputs and knowledge by farmers, all of which reduces productivity.
The response form the international development world to Zimbabwe’s downfall has been slightly mixed. The big agencies like USAID, World Bank and others, who I met recently in Harare, want to see an emphasis on support to commercial farmers. They think that, if they can get the export market up and running, some of the income will trickle down to the 1.6 million – who have very few resources.
Practical Action believes strongly in working with those in immediate need – who may own only one cow or a goat. Helping them to make the most of their meagre resources, gives them a safety net and an ability to take their own choices. This is what we mean by a hand up and not a hand out. Our podcasting work, for example, helps people to tackle disease and get the best form their livestock. We are also working to get people access to clean water and better sanitation.
On reading the new report my thoughts are with the women I recently met. I wonder what their fate will be, come January and February next year when the problems are due to be at their worst.1 Comment » | Add your comment
We travelled for a day and a half to reach Ntepe – a ward in Gwanda district, south western Zimababwe. A crowd of 50 – mainly women greeted us beneath the spreading arms of a huge, but dead, tree. Around us the earth was completely parched and there was red dust in the air as the winter wind was picking up.
I was travelling, with the Permanent Secretary of the Zimbabwean Ministry of ICT and a number of our key local partners – to witness for myself the podcasting work that Practical Action is delivering there.
Podcasting is effectively a way of communicating with people who have no access to the internet, no access to mobile phones, no TV and no radio. We use it to share information with remote and vulnerable people around agricultural techniques and issues of water and water conservation.
Local knowledge workers charge their MP3 players and are given new materials through our local partners who operate from the nearest market town (Gwanda) some 70 km away. They take the new messages out to community meetings where they play them. Unlike traditional extension services – where the Ministry of Agriculture employee comes, delivers a lecture, and then goes, the podcast and MP3 is left in the community, so anyone who missed it or wants to listen again can do so.
The most effective thing about the podcasts is that they are recorded in local languages and dialects. This means that unlike many knowledge materials – they really do reach the last mile. One of the women told me that what she liked best was that she could trust the podcast – it was accurate where, she suspected the men from the Ministry did not always tell the truth!No Comments » | Add your comment