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Project Notes from Ndanifor Permaculture Eco-village in Cameroon
(please note: most recent entries are at the top of the page and also refer to the Tag Betterworld Cameroon on the Blog )
Earlier this year, during the dry season November 2014 to March 2015, we built a meeting hall and kitchen for Ndanifor Permaculture Ecovillage. This became a demonstration project for ecological building, including teaching and awareness raising into the building process. We built good relationships with our contractors and further trained the women of Alegnwi.
The hall features:
- stone foundation
- walls of earthbuilding techniques Adobe and cob
- natural plasters
- window shutters of local raffia
- roof of local clay tiles
Our decision-making process was always guided by priority on local materials. We looked for durability as well, thus the decision for the tile roof.
We worked with local builders and included students from the technical school for some practice time.
Today the hall is used to host public seminars as well as the annual summer work camp of Better World Cameroon.
The attached kitchen is a demonstration kitchen for our Africa Kitchen Revolution project. It features a rocket cook stove and a cob oven.
Part of our efforts last dry season was also the completion of the eco hut. It is now ready to be welcome visitors and volunteers. A sweet place to stay indeed!
I have created a short documentary video about the building:
This season we are building further accommodation structures for the eco lodge and learning center.
April 27, 2014
A week ago we left Cameroon. We are looking back at a time of growth for Better World Cameroon. Once again I see that I am a catalyst for things to happen. The women are confident in continuing the building work. The website has given much more insight to the world. Better World now has more than 300 “likes” on the facebook page.
For the record I offer the following list of
Better World Cameroon Project achievements August 2013 – April 2014
With the decision to stay longer the scope of work with Better World Cameroon expanded.
In the time between August 2013 and April 2014 the following tasks were accomplished:
1. Facilitation and support for Youth Summer camp
2. Architectural concept for Ndanifor Permaculture Ecovillage Learning Center and Eco-Lodge
3. Work on major project proposal
4. Layout and content of new website for BWC
5. Production of YouTube video to introduce Ndanifor Permaculture Ecovillage project
6. International Youth Camp visioning/planning for 2014
7. Volunteer Staff training sessions in Excel and WordPress
8. Ongoing coordination support for activities of Better World Bamenda
9. Planning of 2014 trainings
10. Development of introduction to Permaculture course for Bamenda
11. Construction of Eco-hut through community education (women and youth)
12. 2 Stove building workshops for women
13. Edited and produced 3 mini-documentaries for YouTube
It is my intention to return to continue working with Better World Cameroon from the distance and locally. Watch for future programs and projects
A month has gone by – the youth camp is long finished. The composting toilet was nearly completed.
The work focus has shifted to planning and fundraising, as well as building a new website for Better World Cameroon.
I have set up a new wordpress theme and we are now creating pages to better explain how Better World functions and what’s being offered here. We have a small team working on different parts and hope to launch by the end of September.
On the drawing board (CAD) is also the design for the Learning Center at Ndanifor Permaculture Eco-Village in Bafut. This is part of a large funding proposal.
We started with a sketchup model and have now gone into more detailed planning and soon will have estimates from builders.
Out at the eco-village site it’s been quiet. The vegetables are growing thanks to plenty of rainfall.
A road is being cleared, which will provide much needed access to the construction site.
And a land survey has been conducted and will be available soon.
While things are moving along here, director Joshua Konkankoh has followed an invitation to participate in the Ecovillage design course at Siebenlinden Ecovillage in Germany. We expect him to return with many more ideas and relationships.
August 10, 2013 Bamenda
We are in the tropics and it is rainy season. Here in Bamenda and Bafut that means everything is growing and thick lush growth covers the earth. At the ecovillage site in Bafut vegetables are interplanted with corn and cassava. I asked if it is traditional practice to interplant and the answer is yes!
The earth is heaped into rows that follow the contour of the land, compostable matter gets thrown between and on the mounds I see sweet potato, beans and corn or cassava at the top. Climbing varieties grow up sticks. Tarot root (called cocoyam) grows widely and plantains are plentiful. There are Avocado (called pear) and Mango, Guava, Papaya and Bananas, and a tree that is called apple and another they call plum.
During our mapping exercise I was looking at a small area and couldn’t name many of the plants that covered the ground. A true food forest.
The land is sloped and in the lower parts where water collects, the raffia palms thrive . They give a building material that is called bamboo here, although it is not truly bamboo. We will be working with an artist to create with this material. For now we have stacked the long, very lightweight poles against a tree to protect them from insect damage.
Our first project with participants of a Youth Summer Work Camp is a composting toilet. When working with groups it is helpful to keep the scope small enough to be able to finish the project.
We have started by placing a few earthbags that will support the “seat box”, around which a small structure will be built of wood and raffia poles, with a grass roof. We want to keep the footprint of this structure very small, and we expect that soon other toilet facilities will be constructed to replace this one. So no permanence is expected here.
The vision for Ndanifor Permaculture Eco Village includes a learning center for presentations and workshops with facilities to house students. We are discussing and designing structures to suit this purpose, and will begin construction of a meeting hall.
Having the ability to host programs at this village site will be key to the success of the future development. And it will be central to the larger vision of a Bafut eco-city which has been adopted by the village council. I look forward to meet with council members to find out more!
July 29, Bamenda, Cameroon
“The soil is rich in Cameroon. There is no reason we couldn’t grow enough food for everybody in this country. “
I’m sitting beside Konkankoh Joshua, on the bus from Yaounde to Bamenda, looking at the lush forests and farmland that cover most of Cameroon. It’s a broken up bus-trip conversation where we occasionally exchange a few thoughts and the go back to watching the land go by or enter short sleeps. And it is part of our getting to know each other time as we move from the head office and guest space to the Bamenda center of Better World Cameroon, where we will spend most of our time in Cameroon.
Every organization I have worked with has an inspirational, charismatic and engaging leader. This is the case here too, in the person of Joshua, who is the leader of Better World Cameroon. He left his work as journalist and a government position in order to learn about Permaculture and study social enterprise, and develop the vision for this organization. Driven by a deep conviction that change can come about only through education and intercultural connection of young people, he mentors the volunteers who run the programs of Better World Cameroon.
“Young people need to see a way to engage. To tell them what’s not good, or to stop hanging around doesn’t give direction. Give them skills and the freedom to use them and you will see them thrive.”
From the start Joshua has been fully committed to the work of developing this organization locally and building relationships internationally. He brings an African perspective to the global approaches of Permaculture and eco-village thinking, and I look forward to learning where the differences are. To be successful here, any training has to adapt the principles of Permaculture to the local experience, views and cultural context as well as climate.
My first connection with Joshua Konkankoh, director at Better World Cameroon results in an invitation to work together and create a Natural Building program.
Ndanifor Permaculture Eco-village is located near Bafut, North-West Cameroon. This is a project under the Umbrella of Better World Cameroon, an organization dedicated to develop sustainable farming, settlement and culture to Africa.
Education is key and programs have been visioned for Permaculture training and Natural Building. A Permaculture plan is in place and gardens are already producing organic food for an Orphanage.
The current project is the building of an Educational Center at the Eco-village Site, where successive workshops and Educational Camps can take place.
As always we will know much more when we get there, see the place and meet the people.
Our commitment is to travel to Cameroon to be there for this year’s work-camp in August, work for the organization and develop a framework for the training for natural building, train trainers, and begin a “village to village “ relationship between O.U.R. Ecovillage and Ndanifor Permaculture Eco-village.
Are you willing to support this work? We are grateful for your donation .
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