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Villages of Anam: A Tour of Beautiful Iyora

24 Jun

Elders welcome Anam City Rurban Design Workshop to Iyora

As discussed in the Master Plan, the Anam people includes eight distinct communities: Iyora, Umueze, Umuikwu, Umudora, Oroma, Umuem, Nmiata, and Umuoba. Each of their villages has its own traditional leadership councils and cultural celebrations, creating a unique identity for each settlement. During a series of blog posts over the coming months, the Anam Rurban Design Workshop will visit and study many of these settlements, noting how these distinctive traditions, lifestyles, and land-use strategies can be incorporated into the vision for Anam New City.

The first tour of the Workshop took us to the Village of Iyora on the eastern side of the Ezichi River. Beautiful and idyllic, it  is also a town of contrasts. The community is energetic and welcoming, albeit much of the resident population is comprised of children and elders, with remarkably few teenagers and adults of working age. The housing structures and surrounding farms also reflect parallel evolutionary processes. The settlement consists of cinderblock and cement family homes organized around piazza-like outdoor spaces, often including smaller bamboo structures that serve as cooking spaces. Alongside this, however, are many unfinished structures appears temporarily on hold or permanently abandoned. Piles of bricks collecting moss and the beginnings of cement foundations with exposed rebar reinforcements populate the landscape as hopeful semi-permanent features.

A Family House in Iyora

Complementing these infrastructures, Anamites in Iyora employ a range of techniques to maximize the productive use of land. Each crop is clearly placed according to well-practiced patterns. The result is a verdant landscape of mixed-use and productive gardens. For example, in one central area of town, a palm tree is ringed by pineapple plants, which are further surrounded by sweet potatoes. Each plant also serves a variety of purposes: the nut of the palm tree is cracked and boiled down for oil; the husks are used for sweeping and cleaning. No part of the palm tree is left unused. In other areas, melons are intercropped with yam and corn. When not filled with water, ponds throughout town are planted with a variety of crops, illustrating individual farming initiatives woven into a larger community consensus on land use. Each parcel of farmland tells a backstory of long planned techniques; while the town’s layout as a whole reveals a narrative in communal land management.

Iyora is a unique mix of land uses.

The Anam New City project hopes to blend the strong cultural traditions seen in Iyora with the expanded economic opportunities of a more connected settlement.    By introducing seed projects, such as a brick factory and fish farm, Anam New City will allow Anamites to achieve a viable lifestyle without forgoing the community’s valuable heritage in agriculture.   As an innovative mix of rural and urban, individual and community, economic growth and sustainability, tradition and invention, the Rurban Design Workshop will continue build on existing land use practices in hybrid with the rurban model of Anam City’s urban design.

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Herbal Medicine Flourishes in Anam

22 Jun

Local Ebe Tree is used for the treatment of Malaria

Herbal medicine is an integral part of Anam culture and tradition. Most Anamites are familiar with traditional herbal practices to varying degrees. Many have knowledge of the specific benefits of the plants that surround them in this forest-mosaic landscape. An Anam barrister and herbalist recently stated, “There is no living thing that is used for nothing.”

As a public health intern with The Chife Foundation, I have had the opportunity to learn about regional herbal medicines on our first tours of the Ebenebe site with the Chife Foundation Fellows, Anam City staff, and local residents. Several native plants are known for their abilities to heal and treat specific ailments, for example: bitter leaves can be prepared as a tonic for stomach problems, a red leaf tea used to build blood, and multiple plants that can treat malaria. There is such a wealth of healing resources in the Anam land.

Dr. Onyeka, General Manager for Anam Development Company, uses the bark of the Ebe Tree (pictured) to treat malaria. Ebe Tree preparation for malaria:

Ingredients:

  • 3 Liters of water
  • 3 double handfuls of bark.
  • Preparation: Combine water and bark. Boil for 30 minutes, no longer. Drink 1 glass full of this tea three times per day. Store in a cool place for up to 3 days. Heat each serving before consuming.

    Ebe Tree Bark

Through much discussion on our walk, we realized that everyone does something a little different and agreed that people in Anam would benefit from using standardized preparations that are proven effective. This is not unique to Anam either; it is a challenge of herbal medicine worldwide.  Integrated with the public health program in Anam we should institutionalize the preparation of effective plant medicines, while testing oral healing tradition help patients receive consistent benefits.  In this way, we can ensure the survival of medicinal plants and traditional healing knowledge for the future.

Collectively through the Anam Rurban Design Workshop, we are looking to draw out this knowledge and integrate herbal wisdom of the Anam community. By documenting the names, uses, and growing conditions of these plants, herbal medicine can be woven into the future of the New City in Anam.

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.

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