Tag Archives: ecological urbanism

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

Anam Under Water [VIDEO]

9 Nov

Annual flooding has become a part of life in Anam. People travel throughout the region from farm to market on the rivers by canoe to conduct trade. They respond to the natural hydrological systems for their survival and have innovated many solutions for managing their resources during the floods. On farm settlements, farmers build flexible farm storage and construct mounds near their housing for protection.

The wetland condition resulting from the floods are a critical contributor to regional biodiversity and ecological strength.The seasonal floodwaters serve as a natural irrigation and deposits nutrient-rich sediments on to farmlands.  However, increasing population and urbanization creates pressure on the hydrologic system in this riverine area. Conventional development causes wetland areas to be reduced, which damages water supply and quality. A depleted flood plain also increases risk of flooding in other areas of the region as water rushes in during the rainy season, contributing to aggressive erosion.  International research on climate change issues also demonstrate that vulnerable areas such as Anam will be at even greater risk as water levels rise.

The design of ANAM CITY takes an ecological approach to urban development that manages nature and civilization, such that neither is compromised.  The city will preserve and enhance 85% of the existing wetlands, while urban infrastructure will follow low-impact guidelines so that stormwater can actually complement the city’s design.  The result is an emerging wetland and riverfront edge that will mitigate any human impacts and allow for the long term stability of both the community and ecological systems.  The Anam culture of canoe transport is also integral to the urban design framework for the city, which will address the Ezichi River for its primary access points.

Building on Water: Intensive Site Trip Advances Urban Design

20 Oct

The design team travelled to the project site this month for an extended work trip aimed at guiding the urban design development phase.   The extensive land surveying shed great light on the existing site conditions.  With the help of GPS units, canoes, local farmers and other volunteers from the Umuoba Anam community, the team was able to traverse the full extent of the first phase site (Ebenebe), identifying inland waterways and gaining a better understanding of traditional socio-economic and settlement patterns.

The Ebenebe river edge

Of particular importance was understanding and recording the extent of the peak seasonal flooding on the site.  Because the Anam communities are in the Niger/Anambra river basin, most of their land is heavily impacted by the seasonal tropical rain.  So why build a new city in a flood zone?  How can such a significant greenfield development be feasible, let alone ecologically responsible?   It is the most important urban design challenge; balancing environmental protection with an urgent need to improve human quality of life.  The fact is the land is all the Anam people have, the hand they’ve been dealt.  It is both a source of life and struggle.  The flood cycle effectively cuts off communities from public services, economic activities and each other.  At the same time, it is a necessary ecological process that enriches the land and enables the Anam farmers to produce over 70% of the regional food demand.   As their present living conditions worsen, the Anam people have a right to self-actualization and preservation.  Proposed urban design strategies for the new Anam City will balance the regional hydrological cycle with domestic water solutions for a sustainable settlement.  Furthermore, the rurban/agropolitan model cultivates prosperity where it’s needed the most, the rural periphery, and mitigates the destructive forces of mass urban migration.

New LOGIC for Africa

1 Sep

S-E-T SUSTAINABILITY FRAMEWORK

The urgent need for sustainability today demands new systems of thinking and new approaches to problem solving — new spheres of logic.  Societies are no longer considered independent of the natural environment and neither can both exist outside of the influence of technology.  The Logic of the ANAM model is the unique conceptual basis and theoretical underpinning of our sustainability perspective, which lives in the confluence of three spheres: Sociologic, Ecologic and Technologic (SET).  The three spheres together form a regime of sustainability in which all three interactively control viability, performance and outcome.  These mutually reinforcing logics are used to assess each urban design strategy.

Sociologic: Communalism and interdependence are embedded in most African traditional cultures, yet often lost in modern society.  Because a truly sustainable urbanism is facilitated and manifested through its social roots, it must be grounded in cultural heritage, both in practice and in form.  Thus the system of collective progress, as defined by the society itself, is most resilient against socially destructive forces and reflective of the African tradition of development.  Therefore, a sociological strategy is understood as one that is culturally relevant, collectively improves human quality of life and encourages responsible citizenship.

Ecologic: Africa is blessed with abundant and diverse natural resources. The local ecology has been a source of physical sustenance, creative inspiration and a struggle for survival.  These three experiences are independently significant yet must be fairly and simultaneously addressed. Therefore, an ecological strategy is a balanced and respectful management of natural resources that meets human needs, enhances natural beauty and mitigates natural hazards.

Technologic: There is an urgent need in Africa for practical solutions to life-threatening problems stemming from natural and man-made causes.  An ‘urgent practicality’ means solutions must be readily implementable, scalable and able to yield tangible results for the present generation. Furthermore, local innovation within traditional systems is an important counter to the vulnerabilities of aid dependency. Therefore, a technological strategy is a practical, problem-solving application that appropriates indigenous knowledge systems, advances innovation, supports resilience and optimizes processes (time, money, resources).

Economics, though traditionally understood as the third sphere of sustainability, is excluded from this SET not as a devaluation of the global phenomena, but to advance the assertion that a system of production of material wealth is not central to, but results from the collective endurance and progress of humankind as derived from this SET.  The model posits the Logical SET of interrelationships as the basis for articulating a truly sustainable city, one that is both uniquely African and universally laudable.


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