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Launching the Sand Dredger in the Ezichi River

11 Jul

With the first dredger ever on the Ezichi River, this milestone allowed the ongoing Anam City project to take on a new trajectory. This is the first time the Ezichi River has been mechanically dredged; currently local source sand from the river manually using a process that is slow and unsafe. The mobile dredging boat will allow increased  flexibility for year-round provision of sand at volumes required for the construction of the city project.

The construction of the Anam dredger was initiated in January 201 to augment the scarcity of sand in the region and, specifically at the Anam City site. Before now, the process of bringing sand to the site has been a very difficult task. This is because the only alternate beach is at Otuocha, where a tipper can purchase sand and deliver by road. Otu-ocha is a town 50-kilometer away from Ebenebe Anam.  The newly installed dredger at Ezichi River will make sand available for the New City.  Construction of the boat has finally come to completion as the dredger has fully commenced operation today.

Dredging is an excavation activity usually carried out underwater with the purpose of gathering up bottom sediments and disposing of them at a different location. This technique is often used to keep waterways navigable.  In our case, it is the next in our series of ‘seed businesses’ that can help to generate jobs and funding, as well as providing an immediately local resource (i.e. sand) vital in the construction process.  The dredging business is an exciting economic development angle for the Chife Foundation, as it has potential to generate funds that can further support the initiatives underway in Anam. 

Dredging is also used as a way to replenish sand on some public beaches, where sand has been lost because of coastal erosion.   The process of dredging creates spoils (the excess material), which are carried away from the dredged area. Dredging can also produce materials for land reclamation or other purposes, usually construction-related.

Because dredging involves the removal of accumulated bottom sediments it is also used to maintain or enlarge a navigation channel or for the purposes of waterfront construction, utilities placement and environmental remediation.    Anam farmers have indicated that the Ezichi has reduced in size and depth significantly in the past 10 years due to erosion (caused by recent tree cover loss) which has augmented the problem of sedimentation in the Ezichi River.  Many will be glad to see the river dredged as it can help to keep it navigable.

There is some concern over the environmental effects of dredging and disposal of dredged material (sometimes contaminated), the increasing unavailability of suitable disposal sites and dredging role in supporting waterborne commerce have combined to raise public interest in dredging and disposal of the material.

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RELAUNCH: over 70 interested workers attend Brick Factory kick-off meeting

22 Nov
Young men and women signing up for work at the brick factory

Both men and women came for information about working at the Anam Bricks factory

Now that the flood has receded, the Anam Development Company held an open meeting on Friday at the Bricks Factory in Anam New City to launch a new work season. A free boat left Otuocha in the morning bringing many people, while others walked or rode okada to the event from nearby towns of: (1) Iyora, (2) Umueze Anam, (3) Aboegbu, (4) Otuocha, (5) Nmiata, and (6) Ebenebe.

A total of 72 people were present at the meeting, including 55 men and 17 women, joined by several elders in the community. It was very positive to see such a large showing of people with an interest in contributing to the progress of the new face of Anam. Among this number there were 13 trained workers who received a certification from the Auroville Earth Institute in the technique of making bricks from the local atachikpa and laterite earth.  During the event, three of these trained workers were recognized for their outstanding commitment to the Anam City project since the training in March 2011.

Trained workers discussing their plans for forming work teams

Trained workers discussing their plans for forming work teams

After discussing the importance of the entire City project and the role of local brick production, many other issues were brought up regarding ways to move the brick factory forward.  There was a special interest by all in knowing when the brick making work will commence, as many people are very eager to start working there. Several applicants also asked when there could be another training at the factory.

The creative operating model of the Anam Bricks was also explained and discussed by the group.  Each trained brick factory worker will lead a team of 6-10 people, and be paid as a team by the number of bricks they can produce.  It is currently estimated that one team can make 1,000 bricks in a day on a single machine.  The factory also requires that each team include at least one female worker so that they can also have a fair chance at the work and learning new skills.   The team-based model will also allow the workers to have flexibility so that they can still continue other part-time occupations, such as farming or fishing.

An applicant asks a question about working in the Bricks Factory

An applicant asks a question about working in the Bricks Factory

Brick production will begin in early December 2011.

Anam Brick Factory maintains a list of prospective workers and trainees; if you would like to be added and contacted via SMS regarding updates on job or training opportunities, please contact Brick Factory Coordinator Ayodele on 07086139095.

Blog Post by Ayodele Eneji, Brick Factory Coordinator

Brick factory employment form

Brick factory employment form

Renewable Electricity is Essential for Anam’s Development

29 Aug

Fidelis Amaechi Chife is a Chife Foundation Fellow. He is currently studying law at Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awka (Anambra State, Nigeria). He has been working this summer with the Chife Foundation interns on the Anam New City project.

Chife Foundation Fellow, Fidelis Amaechi

Nigeria is comprised of 36 states that are divided into smaller local government areas (LGAs). Our Anambra State has 21 local governments, one of which is the Anambra West Local Government (within which there are several autonomous communities including several of the 8 Anam communities). Currently, the Anambra West Local Government Area is without any source of direct power supply. It is not only that Anambra West is one of the most disadvantaged areas in the state, but also the rural dwellers in this zone have never had – and still do not have – access to electric current, even in today’s twenty-first century world.

However, the fact that the citizens of Anambra West are living in darkness is no longer news and in spite of this lack of electricity, the region is very productive. Citizens of this region produce 70 percent of the food that is consumed in the state and other nearby areas. This has earned Anambra West the name of “Food Basket of the Nation.” One of the major negative effects of this lack of electricity is that most of the farm produce is sold at cheaper prices to middlemen in the market. This is because there is a lack of storage facilities thereby forcing farmers to sell their crops immediately at a low price without making a good income. Even though the people, especially local people, in this government are accustomed to a low standard of living as a result of the above plight, their hard work seems to have little impact on their income levels due to the absence of a modern market. There needs to be investment in order to develop a market, but no investors will put in huge amounts of capital in a place where there is no tarred road or power supply.

In addition to this, the development of Anam New City needs to go hand-in-hand with sufficient and renewable power supply.  Now that the project has the land at Ebenebe as its kick-off ground, it is pertinent for the state government, corporate organizations, citizens, and NGOs (both Nigerian and international) to work together to achieve this gigantic goal of providing a sustainable energy in Anam.  We have seen first hand the social and environmental impacts of sources such as oil, gas and coal, and would support alternative sources such as solar, wind and hydroelectricity.

Meanwhile, it is true that everyone in Anambra West knows and wants the Ebenebe vision to come to fruition. In order to achieve this vision, effective and sustainable electric current is essential.

Post by: Fidelis Amaechi Chife

Many Nigerian communities construct shared electricity currents such as this one because the local government fail to supply it to the whole region. The ability of each community to create solutions such as this depends on their collective efforts and income.


Shaping Future Market Models for Anam City

2 Aug

Yam market study

It is well known that major cities and empires have developed around market crossroads. Anam City is a powerful future junction for the establishment of a regional market of unique agricultural and livestock produce. It therefore has the potential to help reduce current food imports in a resource-full country like Nigeria.

Anam has long been known as the “food basket of Anambra State.” This fertile land is a major producer of yam, cassava and fish. These and other goods are cultivated here and later sold in major local markets like Mmiata and Otuocha. Such activities involve more than 50 percent of Anam’s current population in the farming and trading sectors. However, the Anam community suffers several problems making full use of its resources. This blog post will discuss a few of them (lack of storage technology, information gaps and energy shortages) with efficiency as the underlying issue at the root of all these problems.The creation of a new market model could offer innovative and visionary solutions to help the Anam people.

Storage is a critical topic when discussing markets. Here in Anam, farmers store their harvest using traditional methods such as yam barns or oba in Igbo. These structures are wisely designed half a meter above ground and under palm fronds in order to avoid yams being spoiled by floods, heat or sun.

Obas are positioned half a meter above ground level by flood stilts and are covered by palm fronds

Despite its ingenuity, obas do not allow yams to be preserved for more than three months. This major constraint forces Anam farmers to sell their harvest at a very specific time of the year. Local markets are then flooded by farm goods which are sold at low prices due to increased competition. As a consequence, when the harvest season is over, most impoverished households suffer from low incomes and lack of alternative livelihoods. Offering improved storage facilities would therefore boost farmers’ ability to control market forces. It could help households improve their food supply during the planting season, increasing health and nutrition patterns. As well, this would also reduce the need for loans at a very high interest rate.

Lack of access to information is another major market failure that undermines Anam’s socioeconomic potential. Anam people have therefore massively entered the mobile phone industry to improve communication.

Family with mobile phone on the tree

In this respect, mobile phone practices are changing the patterns of information transmission in Anam and are also being incorporated in commercial and financial practices to avoid theft and promote fruitful economic transactions. Cell phone businesses are proliferating in many small rural towns in Anam, such as Iyora and Aboegbu, and are a source of entrepreneurship among farmers. For all these reasons, the new Anam City project is striving to position itself ahead of the curve, exploring diverse possibilities to access information, promote technological literacy and increase livelihood opportunities by introducing mobile phone technology to a wider audience. For more interesting reading on the topic of Africa’s emerging mobile technology and Nigeria specifically, check out the final chapter in Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles by Richard Dowden.

However, a reliable source of energy is crucial to promote the use of this mobile technology. Currently, Anam suffers electricity shortages and almost all Anamites are petrol- and kerosene-dependent. Both the noise and air pollution caused by generators leaves this community with a degraded environment and decreased comfort levels. The Anam City project is therefore considering integrating solar panels into the design of future kiosks in the marketplace. In a first phase, these kiosks would provide mobile recharging facilities and in subsequent phases could expand to allow access to PCs and the internet. Solar-powered kiosks could also promote efficient financial transactions through a mobile money system, and they could become a source of entrepreneurial activity to diversify household income. This will free entrepreneurs from the cost of diesel and the inconveniences of generators (see the graph below).

Inputs and outputs for a typical Anam farmer

In the long run, once internet access is secured, the introduction of smartphones could also be explored as a means to expand access to information crucial to farm businesses: market price fluctuations, weather forecasts, up-to-date farming technology, increased farm planning processes, etc. Altogether, these could lead to the development of future research labs for farmers’ smartphone applications that could add value to the growing economy of the city.

In short, Anam is a resource-full land, but the community suffers several challenges. Storage inefficiency, information gaps and energy supply shortages are major market failures undermining Anam’s socioeconomic potential. The Anam City project is currently designing a new market model that will blend the traditional socioeconomic energy of Anam with innovative and forward-looking technological solutions to push the community further. This physical and social facility will allow Anam to capitalize on its cultural, social and commercial competitive advantages and will help link the city locally and globally.

Ball State University Offers Graduate Studio on Anam City’s Landscape

1 Mar

Landscape Sites in Anam City

Kicking off mid-February, The Chife Foundation is excited to be working with Ball State University of Indiana to examine several critical landscape sites in Anam City.  Landscape, ecological and agricultural systems are foundational in Anam City’s design.  The project team is looking forward to the innovative ideas and approaches that can come from the partnership with Ball State’s Landscape Architecture Program.  Instructor Simon Bussiere will be guiding eight graduate students pursuing their Masters of Landscape Architecture as they examine and develop holistic site design strategies for several landscape typologies within the city.  The students will focus on indigenous planting and landscape materials, as well as ways to integrate social and infrastructural systems into the city’s design.   The designs may also incorporate biogas generation, multi-modal transportation, urban agriculture, stormwater management, invasive species mitigation, and waste management.

The various site include:

Ecological Transect of Anam City

  • Half House/Half Farm Plot
  • Fish Farm as a Floating Public Park
  • Transit Node: Public Landscape Axis
  • Pocket park: Public Landscape Axis
  • Dynamic Waterfront Edge
  • Civic Waterfront
  • Agro-Industrial Working Waterfront
  • Leaning Landscape for Anam Academy

You can follow the course’s progress on their Agropolitan Studio Blog.  This is one of several university partnerships the Chife Foundation has developed to expand teaching and learning during the design development of Anam City, Nigeria.