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Anam City Initiatives Highlighted at Columbia University Forum – NYC

2 Dec

November 18, 2011

Anam City’s innovative approach to rural development, community leadership and stakeholder participation was highlighted at Columbia University’s 2011 Africa Diplomatic Forum (ADF). On a panel with high level international affairs officials, Abena Sackey Ojetayo, past Program Manager at the Chife Foundation, discussed the prospects and pitfalls of youth leadership in the future of Africa. The Anam project’s involvement of young people through the Fellows Program and stakeholder focus groups was highlighted as an example of a powerful tool of raising the next generation of leaders in Africa.

The ADF is an annual forum presented by Columbia University’s SIPA Pan-African Network and the Institute of African Studies that brings together African diplomats, academics, activists to discuss development issues on the Continent. This year’s theme, “The Blueprint,” focused on new challenges and opportunities in Africa to develop the right tools and lay the necessary foundation towards sustainable development in light of global political and economic shifts.

Farewell Message to the Fellows

18 Aug


Last day of Anam Rurban Design Workshop with several Fellows

The past is a ghost, the future is a dream, and all we ever have is now.  It is not where you are from, it’s where you are going, it’s not what you drive, it’s what drives you. It’s what is on you and in you, it’s not what you think, it’s what you know.

The Chife Foundation Rurban Design Workshop was is targeted at the youth of our community who have the zeal to serve humanity.  We were all  pleased to join together these 10 weeks in service to our community, Anam and our New City project.

The only shortcut to success is service. As you serve, you are sowing a seed, and there is power in this seed. What you sow is what you reap and more and it may not necessarily matter where you reap it, what matters is that you will reap what you sow. Therefore, we will all encourage you as you sow your seed of service here in Anam for the future of community.

Fellows visiting the brick factory site with Dr. Chife

The Chife Foundation gave us an opportunity to serve our fatherland and our community.  As we recall that just like yesterday that we set our foot on Ebenebe, the time has come once more for us to move on and bid farewell to Ogwuyo site.

I encourage us to keep in touch and to continue to think of ideas, projects and contribution that will expedite the Anam New City project. The New City is for us and the future will not forget us as we leave an indelible footprints.

Fellows presenting to other Anam community members

Once again, we thank Dr Aloy and Gesare Chife for  the wonderful priviledge given to us to serve our communty. We promise to do more if such opportunity is given to us in the future.

Post by: Linus Ifeyani Nnekwe

Farewell Message to the Interns

17 Aug

Interns traveling to Otuocha by boat on the Ezichi River , July 2011

Whatsoever has a beginning must surely have and end, even a journey of thousand miles. The smooth commencement of the 2011 internship programme and Rurban Design Workshop has finally come to a joyous end.

It is possible that many of you were discouraged by friends, parents and well wishers to come to Africa in the first place. The truth is that you have come, you have seen and you have conquered.

Having served our community, Anam, our great country, Nigeria and our continent Africa with selflessness which have brought gladness and fulfillment to you, a service which you rendered in humility, its now time to say goodbye.

We thank God that you have seen that Africa is lovely, Nigeria is great and interesting, Anam is accommodating and full of potentials.

Borrowing from Dr Aloy Chife, in his speech during his last visit to Ebenebe (in the month of July),”We hope that some of you will love to come back and stay like Stacy, Abena and DK who decided to make a career with the Foundation because of their love and passion for Africa.”

Interns learning to use GPS to collect site information to use in the design of Anam New City

Your programme witnessed a great change in the Foundation and the community at large. The first seed projects (the fish pond and the brick factory) have fully commenced work.

Indeed, your sojourn has brought good fortune to the Foundation and our community, Anam. It was your coming that quenched the would be conflict in the community. Your comming also created a lot of impact and awareness to the people.

No doubt you had made life lasting contacts and friends in Anam and I’m sure you will keep in touch and always reach out to your friend at any point in time.

Finally, I wish to appreciate the efforts and encouragement of  Dr. Aloy Chife and Mrs. Gesare Chife. They brought their wide experience to intimate this programme. Mrs. Gesare Chife has worked very hard to ensure a successful completion of this programme.

Several interns and Anam residents in Iyora-Anam

We hope once again that we have been able to meet your needs to serve the humanity.  May good fortune take you as you re-unite with your loved ones. I wish you all safe journey to your various countries/homes.

God bless you all. Bon voyage !

Post by: Linus Ifeyani Nnekwe

Fired local clay bricks

30 Jul
Clay bricks are an excellent construction material for Anam City, given the abundance of clay soil in the area.  Today I started developing a proposal for a brick firing kiln with Prof. Adoke, the manager of the under-construction Compressed Stabilized Earth Bricks (CSEB) factory.  CSEB bricks are compressed clay bricks that are first stabilized with lime and cement to improve its structural properties. The need for these additives is unfortunate, given they are a non-renewable resource, but at least the material demand is significantly less compared to other common building materials in the area, e.g. concrete. These bricks are strong enough to serve as a material for house construction, but they are ill-suited for roads.
Fired clay bricks are similar, in that they are a brick mostly composed of clay. They do not require stabilization, however, because they go through an intense firing process that significantly improves the strength of the brick. In a sense, it trades one input (compression and stabilization) for another (energy heat). They are strong enough to withstand the attrition of vehicular traffic.

Fired clay brick pavement.
One of the outcomes of our planning is that Prof. Adoke will meet with one of his colleagues who operates a brick kiln at Abubakar Tafana Balenwa University in Bauchi to discuss constructing a kiln in Anam City. The prospects are hopeful: the operational and construction knowledge is already available in Nigeria, along with the building expertise through a masonry student of his. This is a significant development for road infrastructure in Anam. Best of all: the kiln can be fired using local organic waste products, e.g. rice husks, which are in abundant supply at the Rice Farmers Mill Cooperative in Otoucha (30 minutes away by boat).
This means the fired clay bricks score multiple points as a sustainable road construction technology:
(1) Low technological requirement, meaning local employment opportunities and skills transfer,
(2) Local and abundant material source, i.e. clay, meaning low transportation demand,
(3) Avoids the need for cement, coarse aggregate, and fossil fuels,
(4) Labor-intensive construction process, meaning opportunities to provide employment and avoid diesel-guzzling big rigs,
(5) Substantially lower carbon footprint by avoiding cement and using a food waste product as energy input, and
(6) Offers sufficient durability and capacity to meet transportation demand with minimal maintenance requirements.
 The brick laying process.
I look forward to developing this proposal and seeing the pilot kiln project come to fruition. It seems that construction could commence as early as December after the end of the rainy season and flooding cycle.
Images source:  “Report on Rice Husk Fired Clay Brick Road Paving, Vietnam,” Bach The Dzung and Robert Petts, available via gTKP.

A Story of an Anam Businesswoman

29 Jul

Nwanegbo Donatus Aniukwu is a student of Anambra State University Economics   Department. He is a fellow of the Chife Foundation. Donatus recently worked with two interns to interview Mrs. Grace Uduaka, a business lady near the Chife Foundation headquarters.

Chife Foundation Fellow, Donatus interviewing Grace Uduaka

Who is Mrs. Grace Uduaka?

She is a woman of her own, doing a business of her own.

A businesswoman near the Chife Foundation headquarters, she sells edible products like biscuits, bread, and cooked rice and beans. She purchases those items from Onitsha, which is the central market near Anam New City, and then she transports them to her small store near the project site and sells them for a small profit.

Grace started her business with the help of her husband who helped care for the welfare of their family of 10 people (eight children in addition to Grace and her husband). One of their children is married, another works in the nearby city of Asaba. Also, they have five children in school: one who has succeeded in pursuing tertiary education and is currently attending Oko Polytechnic Institution, a federal university in Nigeria); a second child in secondary school; and three children in primary school. Unfortunately, Grace’s last-born child cannot go to school due to the very far distance between her house and the school.

In Idemmili (in the southern part of Onitsha, Nigeria), Grace was trading yams and fish, but she left due to the conflict between Igbos and Fulanis, which took place in 1987-88. When we asked her about how life was in Idemmili, she smiled and commented, “I was making a lot of money.” Grace is a true businesswoman.

Then, due to the conflict and wishing to keep her family safe, she and her entire family moved to Ebenebe, where they started farming (mostly just for survival and subsistence). They also managed to make some profit from the crops harvested from her farm. In 2009, when the Chife Foundation began the Anam New City project and began employing workers at the site of the New City, Grace saw an opportunity for business. She knew that, while working, a person needs to eat for more energy. She started selling some things, such as drinks and food, to the workers at the site when the activities and building there began. Despite her income from this small business, she still cannot afford to live in an urban area (such as Onitsha) due to the higher expenses there, and that is why she lives in the farming settlement of Ebenebe – so that she provide for her family without owing money to anybody. She now sees Ebenebe as a profitable means of surviving because she is able to sell biscuits, bread, cooked rice and beans, cassava, and other edible items to community members.

Grace hopes that when the Anam New City project is well underway, she will have saved enough money to obtain a stall in the market in the New City, allowing her to sell her products directly from the new market place.

When we ended our discussion with Grace, we offered a hand shake which she accepted with a broad smile. She said that she will be the first among the pioneers to embrace the New City and that she is eager for Anam to become a respected trading center through the work of business people like herself .

Post by: Nwanegbo Donatus Aniukwu