I am delighted today to get news of an award (Gender Just Climate Solutions Award) that was given to Sonita Mbah from Betterworld Cameroon. She actually received the award in 2017, but could not participate in the event. So today I saw the press conference recording from COP 24 which I will share below.
Sonita is championing the project we started together in 2015/16: the Africa Kitchen Revolution. We started in the local village with a group of women and taught them to build rocket cook stoves. The model for this was to teach a group by building or two example stoves in home kitchens and then ask those women to build stoves for the rest of the members of the group. In 2016 we held a training for trainers to be able to reach more women .
If you listen to Sonita’s statement the intention we set together has been moving forward:
Women are teaching women to build their own mud stoves.
Following this work in Cameroon I have shared the stove building process again in Kenya. And the rocket stove technology has been moving into a few other countries in Africa . Here’s an example from the Gambia by builder Alagie Manneh:
To me it comes down to this:
In order to serve the needs of the women who in many cases have no access to cash income, a technology has to be culturally acceptable, attainable, locally doable and independent from industrial processes . If the women succeed to spread the skills and continue to develop the design to suit their particular cooking needs, this project is successful.
If you are interested in trainings for stoves like this please contact me. I will be in East Africa in 2019 and can be available to groups or organizations.
Here now as promised the award presentation: Sonita is speaking at 16:25
Today I want to share a campaign worth considering:
Of course I’m biased, I used to live there.
I spent more than 10 years designing, building and teaching at O.U.R.Ecovillage.
While life at O.U.R. Ecovillage consumed a lot of my energy it has given back equally:
- become a communitarian
- learned to listen
- had a venue for natural building and creativity
- felt the power of the circle
- witnessed the sparks when people wake up
- met hundreds of people young and old
- enjoyed countless delicious meals in community
- lived in a cob house
- shared skills I learned at O.U.R. in several settings worldwide
and most of all O.U.R. Ecovillage is my home community no matter where I am.
Eco-villages are seed communities for a change in lifestyle. Important processes happen there: people learn to live and work together, deal with personal issues that are triggered by living in close proximity with our “mirrors”. Staying longer has us ever more deeply connected. Moving away from individualism to communal power.
Living in Africa I’ve experienced a culture where the community comes before the individual. This is something those of us from Northern developed countries are not used to and struggle with. The African village community quickly gave a sense of belonging for me. Helping each other goes two ways.
I believe it’s time we become villagers again and step over our fears of losing private space. Places and Organizations like O.U.R. Ecovillage are leading the way to sustainable community. Breaking new ground, sometimes literally with development permits and Natural Homes, with Permaculture vision and local food and the courage to step outside the box.
Speaking of food: one of the incentives of the campaign is a nice meal at the Zero Mile Eatery…..
Claim yours by making a contribution
When a traditional Cameroonian fon (king) has passed a new one must be “caught”. This was the case in Nkwen, one of the communities in the urban area of Bamenda. Ritual celebrations go on for days culminating in the catching ceremony at which dignitaries, traditional dance groups from many villages and the local residents gather at the palace grounds to greet the new fon.
This happens with tremendous noise: guns are being fired, drumming and singing and a master of ceremonies on loudspeakers. People wear their colorful traditional clothing and anyone of stature in the community is there. We were happy to meet Mayor Langsi of Bafut, with whom Better World Cameroon works in close relationship.
Only a few days later, the Mayor Langsi was installed into office at Bafut council- following a successful re-election earlier this fall.
But it’s not just major celebrations that make volunteering rewarding and fun. While work isn’t always exciting or glamorous, we do make sure that we spend time together and acknowledge our achievements. When Italian volunteer Isabella Bonetti was about to return home we organized a farewell party in connection with our own housewarming. It’s not easy saying good-bye after three months of collaboration- but we’re grateful for a new friend.
The launch of the new website for Better World that is one of my projects here was highly anticipated by all of us here and our partners in the world. We’re happy it’s there and we continue to add more information and events as they come up. Check out next years International Summer Workcamp for young activists and change makers from Cameroon and abroad.
As the year draws to an end, plans are now made for the 2014 calendar: Permaculture classes, Natural building projects and a new office location in Bafut will keep us busy in the coming months. Sonita Mbah from our team is now a National Volunteer under VSO (Volunteer services overseas). In Cameroon VSO has been a strong partner to organisations supporting them with capacity building and placement of national and international volunteers. Sadly, CUSO has withdrawn their funding to VSO Cameroon which means that as of March 2014 there will be no more VSO Cameroon.
In my role as independent international volunteer and line manager for Sonita’s VSO program, I was invited to be on a panel on local radio”Afrique Nouvelle” . The program was part of the celebration of international volunteer day on Dec. 5. Also on the panel were from Better World, Silvestre Ngwasuh from VSO and Pascaline from COMINSUD.
Christmas is coming into our awareness as every morning some neighborhood loudspeaker is blaring Boney M’s Christmas album. The region here is very much christian so I expect that the holidays will become more and more evident.
Should you be interested in directly supporting my work with Better World Cameroon I’d be grateful for your donation through paypal (see link at top right).
Happy holidays to all – Peace and Prosperity in Sustainability
Much attention in Permaculture is directed to growing things and planning sustainable land-use. I invite you to think for a moment about Zone 0: the home. How can we apply Permaculture thinking here?
My passion for a long time has been with the design and building of houses and work-spaces that are friendly to the occupants as well as the environment. I call it “Building as if people mattered”.
What do I mean by that?
Here are 7 main qualities I hope to achieve with my designs:
- Connected to surroundings = fits into a Permaculture design of the land which includes looking at weather patterns, neighbors (human and animal) and other activities on the land. I look for the best possible relationship between all these factors, which results in ease of use and natural benefits like cooling or warming.
- Well fitting = enough room for the purpose or the activities that will happen inside. I think about getting the most use out of least amount of space while making it easy to operate inside. Designing with “what will you do in this space”.
- Planned for expansion = I encourage my clients to start by building something affordable, and in the planning include possibilities for future expansion. For example: build openings into walls that may become doors, think ahead when designing a roofline.
- Healthy for people and planet = I choose non-toxic materials, locally harvested or produced as one part of this. Another aspect is plenty of natural light, fresh air and beauty for the soul. Systems should consist of complete cycles, where whatever comes in will be treated in such a way that it will return to Mother Earth without causing harm after we’re done using it. This applies especially to water, but also to construction materials.
- Maintenance friendly = Let’s build it so that repair is easy: good access to shut-off points for water, gas and electricity. Invest in durable infrastructure (good pipes, wiring). I also teach people how to do basic maintenance and repair, on earthen walls and plasters for example.
- Materials put to their highest use = consider strength and structural needs when choosing what to build with. Cement and concrete are high strength and often overused in applications. I look for smart ways of reducing these high impact materials like vaults and using materials like stone and earth.
- Beauty = put love into the building by adding personal touches. I involve people in the process of building and invite their creativity. The energy we put in will radiate out.
Developing a sustainable lifestyle is easy when houses are planned to support us. Becoming part of natural patterns, paying attention to inputs and outputs can be facilitated by design.
In the end our experience is enriched and we feel more connected to Nature.
Interesting linksHere are some interesting links for you! Enjoy your stay :)
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