Friday, April 13, 2012

Finding a site for our building, latrines and water supplies

We have decided that we cannot proceed with our work of providing local people with a central place to bring their honey for trading without a building that is permanently staffed.  We also have the problem that the extension worker James Assam has his family at a distant village in the rainforest and rarely sees them because he is constantly travelling round visiting the bee keepers.  We would like to think that James could have a base where his family live, from which to go out and do his job.

If we build a honey collection room with filtration and storage that is bee proof we can test the honey for quality when it arrives, clean it and seal it ready for transport.  This means it will remain in good condition even in the rainy season and not take up water.  With a base we can ensure that there is someone available at all times to receive bee farmers honey, assess it and pay them immediately.  This will encourage the farmers to bring their honey to us rather than going to the markets in Nigeria where they are kept waiting all day and finally paid a much reduced sum at the end of the day by traders who know they have to trek through the forest to get home and are impatient to leave. A guaranteed purchasing system for quality honey will improve the trading within Cameroon, ensure the farmers receive a fair price and increase trading of honey in the area by encouraging others to take up bee keeping.

The village elders of Ote would also like to see the building put up as they will benefit from associated trade opportunities and visitors.  Currently there is no real commercial activity and travelers are given a meal and a bed for the night as they pass through, by villagers whose culture it is not to charge any money.  Those who are trading their crops to the town realise that this system will inevitably have to change and welcome the opportunity for the villagers to benefit from people travelling through.

the view downstream
They elected to provide a piece of land at a village meeting.  They chose a flat area above the river on a terrace which they selected for its beautiful view of the river and the fact that it does not flood.  They specifically said that they want visitors to be able to enjoy the view of the river when they visit.  They also want the training facility we are suggesting and since this will be partially covered by a veranda and partially in the open, they also wish to have a good view and nice location.  Currently it is quite densely wooded, but they will clear this.

They would like an 'L' shaped building so that on one side they can have the honey plant and staff quarters and on the other some guest bedrooms and a health room so that a medical team can be persuaded to come to the village for vaccinations and other clinics which will improve the status of health in the village.
looking upstream

We spent most of the day with a GPS and a tape so measured up with the help of the chief and elders who had to decide which trees they will cut down.  Large timber trees they need to keep but there is also a lot of bamboo which they have trouble controlling and the clumps get very large, so they are happy to remove or cut these back.

a large clump of bamboo

all the men carried machetes to hack away at
any vegetation in the way. We took time to
understand what was required

they all joined in with the measuring

Ncho Tabe Moses, the director of Forudef gave instructions

this is a beautiful place and the building will make an impact.
 It is important to try to preserve the feeling of the forest and its
tranquility in whatever we do

Everything had to be carefully agreed and discussed

The village people have a clear idea of what they want in the village, but we also have to ensure that what we help them to build will also meet our own ethical standpoint.  For example, there is currently no sanitation so we cannot sponsor a building project that offers less than a minimum we would find acceptable.  We therefore need to find a way of providing clean water and sanitation.  We will also explore providing electricity even if it is some minimal lighting.  We do not know anything about these issues as yet so are off to explore the possibilities.

the chief seated on the hill of his compound

After measuring we climbed to the chief's compound to draw up an interpretation of what the villagers wanted.

the chief and director of Forudef clarify what the village needs

Then we had to discuss in detail all their requirements and ideas to ensure we had recorded what they wanted before we took the plans away.  Marsh and Grochowski Architects in Nottingham have kindly agreed to help realise the ideas.

No comments: