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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.

Join Anam team at FUTURE CITIES AFRICA (Economist Conference) in Lagos May 30/31st

27 Apr

Join us for a major summit on the future of cities in Africa

The most compelling growth opportunities are in Africa’s cities. In the next 10 years the continent’s population will rise beyond 1.5bn and consumer spending is predicted top $1.5 trillion.  The Anam design team will attend the event and live blog many of the sessions. 

Future Cities:  Managing Africa’s urban transformation

May 30th–31st 2012

Eko Expo Centre, Lagos

Future Cities, organised by Economist Conferences, is a major international conference, exploring innovative new approaches to designing, managing and financing Africa’s cities.

The event will feature leading authorities in urban planning, construction, transport, energy, architecture and sustainability, including the mayors of Lagos State, Johannesburg, Harare, Durban, Dar Es Salaam and Cape Town.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Babatunde Fashola, Executive Governor of Lagos State
  • Parks Tau, Executive Mayor of Johannesburg
  • Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman, Emaar Properties
  • Kuma Demeksa, Executive Mayor of Addis Ababa
  • He Liehui, Managing Director, Touchroad International Holding Group

Special NGO and academic rates are available. For further information and to register, visit quoting code ANAM.


Who owns a smart city’s intelligence?

7 Dec


Thanks to architect and urban economist Isabel Carreras-Baquer (who participated in the inaugural Anam Rurban Design Workshop), we presented Anam City at the 2011 Smart City Expo in Barcelona, Spain.

The Expo had an incredible line-up of speakers plus exhibition of a host of cutting-edge technologies for intelligent systems at the urban scale.

It also highlights the birth of an emerging business/cult of the ‘smart city,’ with real implications on the future balance of human freedom vis-à-vis the ever-extending reach of corporate power.

The Expo, an industry-driven technological showcase, sought to cross-fertilize the ideas and professional expertise of business leaders, tech researchers and urban policy-makers with the strategic impulse of global technology enterprises hungry for more: more wired cities mean a new market for the hardware and software required to render cities as computational machines.

City as Computer

Who controls these systems? [i.e. operating systems for smart cities]

Control shifts to the firms that sell these systems – some of the functions of local governments pass to the firms that developed these intelligent systems

The interaction between technical systems and the buildings they inhabit: the more complex and all encompassing the system, the more the probability that when the tech becomes obsolete, the buildings lose enormous value and become second-class buildings, and even simply obsolete and are torn down. (Obsolescence cycle is becoming shorter).

– Text of slide from Saskia Sassen’s APC11 keynote at Siège de la région du grand Casablanca

In her keynote at the African Perspectives Conference 2011 in Casablanca, Morocco (where we also presented Anam City), Saskia Sassen proposed that there is a fundamental distinction between “hacking the city” and “the city as hacker.” Sassen argues that while “many non-urban processes now have an urban moment in their trajectories,” the city—which is an incomplete and complex open-source architecture—must be understood as a “knowledge partner.” She labels as “coders” the authors of the city as an intelligent system and equates them to engineers, who prescibe the working mechanism of the urban machine and thereby draw power from (local) governments as they control the systems of control. Ultimately, Sassen locates the space of interactive open-source urbanism in-between this top-down “logic of the engineer” and the bottom-up “logic of the user.” (Francesc Santacana offered a similar assessment during our City Case Study session at the Expo.)

What this means, at a point in time exemplified by the actualization of the urban panopticon – pdf (one CCTV camera for every 12 UK citizens), when mobile phones and credit cards now track users across borders, and as private companies increasingly usurp public authority through the technology-assisted private provision of public services, is that citizens need to be far more aggressively proactive in demanding that they retain the capacity to “hack the city.” The city, fast-approaching self-awareness and always a system unto itself, will continue regardless to hack the society in which it is grounded.

In short, we are hurtling toward science fiction. Within the lifetime of the young people who are leading the #occupy protests world-wide, cities will become vastly more structured urban machines, with operating systems that command huge storage, computational and surveillance data infrastructure. The degree to which corporations control this physical counter-landscape of technology, as well as the expertise to manage it, will determine the extent to which the city remains public. And hackable. (See: #whOWNSpace)

Social Technology

Presenting Anam City at the Expo was particularly interesting because Anam as a project is both related to and also a breed apart from the high tech smart city championed by corporate initiatives like IBM’s Smarter City Challenge. What is new about Anam City is not new technology per se. Rather it is the proposition that combining the myriad intermediate and appropriate technologies already proven over the past half-century—but which remain largely absent across Africa today—together with Nigeria’s mobile web, offers a powerful opportunity to build better, smarter communities. The only way what is in theory eminently viable becomes feasible is by embedding this array of technology in a cultural wrapper that “makes it work.” Anam’s innovation is the socially-embedded simultaneous convergence of the not-new, the iterative process of a community collectively hacking itself.


Yam Store groundbreaking in Ogwuyo to transform regional market

4 Dec

A rendering explaining the innovative features of the new Yam Store

Workers finishing the foundation trenches for the Yam Store

Workers finishing the foundation trenches for the Yam Store

This week our newest project, the Anam Yam Store broke ground in the Ogwuyo neighborhood of Anam City.  We are excited to begin this project as it marks a significant advance in the region towards solving the problem of agricultural food preservation.  As we have discussed before on this blog, many local farmers and tradesmen are unable to maximize their income because of the short storage life of the yam after harvest; since all farmers in the region are forced to sell their yams at the same time of year, prices are held down.  There are few innovations to solve this problem, aside from costly refrigeration or chemical treatment, and no facilities yet exist in the region.  The Anam Yam store building was designed use passive strategies to keep the yams at a low temperature and facilitate the movement of air around the produce:  the walls are open at the top to optimize ventilation and there are vent-holes (with rodent and insect-proof screens) to introduce cool air and induce convective cooling.  Shelving and hangings systems will keep yams off the floor and maximize accessibility and inspectability- in this way traditional and modern storage techniques can be hybridized, tested and compared with each other.  The metal roof is on a truss structure that also supports a thatch ceiling – the upper layer provides shade, while the thatch intercepts heat radiated from the metal above; the large space between helps to induce airflow and disperse heat away from the interior.

By holding the yams for longer, we will create an agricultural futures market, whereby produce can be sold during an off-season when prices are highest.  The income from this venture can be reinvested into the project and community, as well as helping to raise the standard of living of the farmers.  The long term goal is for individual farmers to ‘bank’ their yams in a cooperative store so that they can have a greater benefit from their hard labour.   This project is the first of several agricultural storage and processing facilities that are planned for Ogwuyo and Anam City as a whole.

In just a few weeks the structure will be be complete and ready to receive the first yams!

A traditional Igbo method for storing yams

A traditional Igbo method for storing yams in an Oba

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.

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