Thursday, July 10, 2014
The "great" and the "not great", Part 1
I should be writing more and putting some effort into this blog while I am here alone. Perhaps the reason I have not done that yet is that I prefer to keep myself very busy when I’m alone. So I’ve kept busy in the office, with the teams, in the villages, and doing some work on the house, and that helps pass the time.
I have slowly come to realize that in community development work, there will never be a time when everything is going great. I was going to write perfect, but I have known for a long time that perfect is not what I should set my heart on! Instead I hope for projects to be “great”, but it is not possible for them all to be “great” at one time. Each community goes through an amazing assortment of circumstances that influence and affect and shape the way they live and how they interact with us as a team there to work with them. Here’s the rough list, then, or the “great” and “not great” things going on:
In MZ village, the construction of the irrigation reservoir has not begun, even though the materials were sent out in May. The community did a terrific job of digging the sub-foundation for the 14,000L reservoir, but then there was a conflict with a neighboring village regarding that land that the reservoir would be built on. This became an acute issue at one point, but the right mediators were around and violence was averted. That situation is completely resolved now, says the community, but it will be a few more weeks before most of the families return from the mountaintops where they go each summer for wheat and pistachio harvest. This is “not great”, because I wanted to see this project through. I’m confident, however, that my local staff can finish the job when the time is right.
Also in MZ village a group of young women has just completed a quick hands-on training in knitting. I let 2 of our female facilitators design this intervention and do it as an experiment, and I’m glad I did! For less that $3 we equipped each woman in training with the materials needed to make 2 child-sized sweater-vests, which they are now selling for $4 apiece. The girls that have sold have bought their own materials and are continuing on. This is “great!”
In AQ village, the community is once again without water. I was out there this week, and arrived just in time to hear that the well has filled with over 5 meters of sand, burying the electric pump. This is probably due to the rise in the water table. We considered our options for resolving this problem, but at 40 meters in the ground it’s too dangerous to depend on water pumps to keep the water level down while digging out 5 meters of sand, that is, 5 meters below the water table level. It is just too risky right now, so we have to wait for the water level to go down. This is “not good”. We are now working on advocacy to neighboring villages to share their drinking water with AQ for the time being.
This week when I came out to AQ I went with a few of the farmers and a couple of our guys up on the mountaintops to evaluate the chemical weed control trials they did this spring. It was a blast stomping around the mountains with the farmers, because they were so enthused to show me the difference that the herbicide 2 4D made. The broadleaf herbicide not only eliminated the broadleaf weeds (including nasty thistles that destroy the farmers’ hands during harvest), but it also made a serious reduction in the grass-type weeds, which was unexpected. Few farmers sprayed, (perhaps because many were scarred after we gave a warning training on the hazards of chemicals!) but the ones that did were very excited, and the ones that did not regretted their decision. We harvested 1m x 1m sample from fields that had been sprayed, and from their control plots. Saturday we’ll thresh these by hand and find the difference in wheat weight, in order to determine if the yield increase will pay for the chemical or not.
I have more to write but I am out of time. I guarantee Part 2 will come soon!
Posted by ATB at 8:53 PM