Pemba Adapts

by Community Forests International on July 3, 2013

Climate change is here. In response, Pembans are working to innovate how they live and work in order to cope as the world changes around them. So here it is, a list of new and exciting pilot projects we’ve successfully launched in 2013.  

Land Grabbing – CFI Style

Taking back the land. 

Most villages have no rights to use the land around their homes. We’ve helped organize our tree-planting groups into cooperatives and then lobbied the government to give these groups the land they plant.

This hasn’t been an easy task. Although the policies are in place and the government has listed community land ownership as a national priority our efforts to make this a reality haven’t necessarily gone smoothly. In fact it’s been an uphill slog.

We spent many days meeting with local government officials. We brought government staff to our community groups and communities to government. We put land titles on ministers’ desks.  We ate breakfast, lunch and supper at the Department of Land’s office.

As a result, we now have 57.9 hectares (equal to 108 football fields) in the final stages of transfer. We’ll keep you posted.

Trees + Food

What could be better than combining our love of trees with our love of food? Pemban villages have been piloting mixed plantings of trees and food in agroforestry systems. Our innovative villages have mixed citrus mango, banana, acacia, teak, coconut, neem, jackfruit, guava, maize, groundnuts, cassava, cowpeas, millet and sweet potatoes. These unique systems keep the soil healthy and allow for continual and intensive agriculture.

Communities have covered 43 hectares (80 football fields) with tree and food systems. Even a small family group of 7 adults managed to grow 3 football fields worth of food. Go Pemba.

Food Security Hits Home

Our agricultural officer, Siti has been changing the way woman provide food for their families. By creating small but intense food systems right outside of homes, woman can grow vegetables and fruits for their own use without wasting travel time heading out to the fields. Community composting helps the growing process, and seed saving allows woman to grow crop after crop.

Cooking 2.0

Thanks to the Legacy Foundation, we’ve managed to work with Pembans to develop a simple wooden press that condenses leaves, paper, grass, rice dust or pretty much any other organic waste we can find into a burnable replacement for charcoal.

Planting trees is only half the battle. The other half involves reducing the amount of trees we cut in the first place. CFI’s innovation think tank, a widows group in Wete, Pemba, has piloted the press and has taught 35 other Pemban women around the island how to make a cooking fuel from scratch.

Beyond what we burn, we’re innovating how we burn it.  We first started tossing around the idea for an improved cook stove in 2011. Although there are several models out there, including shiny rocket stoves that charge cellphones and other gadgets, we knew we needed something that worked for Pemba.

We didn’t need much, considering most rural Pembans were cooking over an open fire using the 3-stone method.

Then one of our Pemban community members met a woman who said she was making stoves out of clay. We hired her to teach a few workshops, starting with our think tank, and before we knew it over 480 stoves have been produced. Just 19 woman were trained initially, but our records show that over 120 Pembans are now making more fuel efficient stoves. Our early studies show that the stoves use only half the amount of wood or charcoal compared to the 3-stone method.


Wireless Electricity

While trying to improve energy infrastructure in Pemba we faced an important challenge. How do you provide wireless electricity to 80 homes using solar energy?

Here’s what we came up with.

First we provided community members with the wires and lightbulbs necessary to wire their homes. Then we put a bunch of solar panels on the rainwater tank CFI built behind a school. Next we got our hands on a bunch of motorcycle batteries and charged them off the solar panels. Community members can now carry the batteries and plug them into their houses in order to provide energy. Wireless electricity at its finest.

Trees at a Whole New Level

Oh yeah, Pemban’s also planted their millionth tree. Stay posted as our partners in Pemba continue to innovate solutions to some of our planets toughest environmental challenges.

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