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Marcus Update and Sharing Resources

A quick update before too much of the week shoots past. I did meet Marcus Simmons at Tuttle on Friday, and later we went to City University to meet Ron Dennis. It was a continuation of the converstation Ron, Femi Longe and I had last week, regarding Nigeria, recyling plastics and other shared interests.

Marcus and I also spent a lot of time transferring his photos and videos to my hard drive, finding the most relevant ones to share, making breif notes, and trying not to be drawn into detail until all that was done. We discovered that we both planned to be in Central London today, so we agreed to meet again to continue our catch-up. There is a lot to cover - so, for starters, Marcus agreed that I could publish the email he sent during his trip.

Marcus' email

Date: 2009/11/11

Dear all,

My apologies for not updating you sooner on my trip. We have been continuously on the move until now, with little or no internet access. But i’m now settled at Fantsuam Foundation for the next 12 days, where i will be reviewing and discussing future strategy and activities, and running a variety of presentations and practical workshops on sustainable building and permaculture topics.

Our first stop was the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, at its Ibadan HQ. We had particularly asked to see their water treatment work. It turned out their water treatment was an expensive western-style facility which treated water to very high standards but would be unaffordable for the vast majority of Nigerian situations. IITA itself was quite grand, but ‘international’ rather than Nigerian in feel. They do a lot of high-tech work on developing valuable new strains of plants etc, but we weren’t able to learn much more about this while we were there. We can catch up on such other aspects by other means, should the need arise.

Songhai Center was next, and was a complete contrast. Started by a Nigerian who was in high-tech electronics in USA but who was provoked by the Ethiopian famine in the 70s to understand what was going on in his home continent, it’s now a tremendously thriving place which has a great ethos of enthusiasm for high standards and quality, and a discipline that comes from within They are combining some of the best technical knowledge worldwide to produce ‘barefoot’ solutions that really work well in the areas of fruit and vegetable growing, poultry and animal husbandry, biogas, food processing and product sales, waste reclamation and recycling, appropriate technology equipment production, internet and data services,  etc. Every drop of water and every scrap of 'waste' is used productively, and the place is a great economic engine in the area.

After that we flew to Yola, in North East Nigeria, a much drier area. The State Deputy Governor was on our flight, and we held an impromptu meeting with him on the airport tarmac. He expressed strong hearfelt concern about environmental issues in his state, and the need for solutions. Very early next day we drove to Mubi, near the Cameroun border, to see the Vice Chancellor of Adamawa State University, and to view the agricultural and fisheries facilities. The VC is very supportive of our plans for the the student eco-hostel, herbarium, and community and environmental regeneration projects. He was delighted with the scale model of the hostel complex which we delivered, and the University will be a highly effective partner in the schemes we are planning. He had already sent his Dean of Agriculture to be part of our group visiting Songhai, and afterwards we viewed this faculty, including well-equipped fisheries research facilities and an extensive tree and vegetable cultivation area. The Dean was seriously enthused by Songhai, and is already planning how to implement many permaculture activities within his faculty. We also saw and discussed the area within the university campus where the hostel is going to be. The site lends itself well to integrated water management and other ‘off-grid’ services, and will be a good base for the development projects we envisage.

Now i’m at Fantsuam Foundation in Kafanchan, staying in a very well designed small guest house built by Fantsuam Foundation using vernacular building methods, and have been busy planning the activities and consultations of the coming few days. I can see many very worthwhile activities that we can plan over the coming months. Fantsuam have achieved a lot over the past year, including a number of interesting sustainable buildings. A particularly interesting detail is the ecodome that a local teacher, who attended my workshop last year, built for himself in a prominent location on Kafanchan’s main street. This entirely his own effort using what he learned last year, and it’s an encouraging example of technology transfer in action!

I’ll be back at the end of November and straight into house moving, but will be pleased to debrief and discuss in early December.

Best regards,

Marcus Simmons

Sharing links

Marcus and I also discussed how is shaping up. I realised that we lack a space where we share useful resources - links to websites and suchlike. I'm not yet sure of the best way to do that within Drupal (the platform we are using for As a first step I have published a dadamac links list  using a Google spread sheet.

The list I am making is not some huge portal - it is just a personal list of links I had to hand, relevant to what I do in Dadamac. I will add to it as I go along, and if it seems useful perhaps other Dadamac people will add more links later.