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Ssanje, Uganda

by Community Forests International on January 17, 2010

We have just wrapped up a busy week of PC instruction and are now moving from our requisite individual design projects to group design. The area to be improved is in the village of Ssanje and includes some high-density tenant housing as well as a market. In discussions with the local LC1 we have identified the major issues facing this community and are now applying PC site analysis and design techniques to address them.

The issues to be addressed include inadequate food and water, insufficient toilet facilities, and erosion. Contributing factors include poor land tenure and very little land for home-scale food cultivation as well as over-grazing by unfenced livestock and virtually no medium- or large-scale rainwater harvesting. In our design we intend to include a community latrine with a fixed-dome biodigester for methane capture and compost production, rainwater harvesting and storage off all roofs, living fences surrounding community garden space and a central composting facility for all home and market organic waste. It is hoped that the community will get behind some or all of the features in our design and help bring it into reality. As there is little public service of any kind in the area it is up to the community members to address such problems on their own. Hopefully some intelligent design and the inspiring work at the nearby Sabina Home, including trained locals, will help.

Estelle and I have also had time to explore further how PC could inform CFI's projects in Pemba. One technique that is really intriguing to me is seed-pelleting. Popularized by Masanobu Fukuoka of Japan mainly for grain cultivation, the process involves surrounding seed with a protective coat of clay, manure, and in our case some mature forest soil to create pellets that can be dried and broadcast over an area to be reforested. When rain comes the seeds germinate very well, around 95% with viable seed, and are equipped with everything they need to get a good start in life. The mix includes the very important and specific soil biota which in most cases is absent on site. Seeds of native species intended as the mature canopy can even be blended with seed from support species including nitrogen-fixers that will act as a 'nurse crop' for the climax species and speed their establishment and growth.

We apologize for still not being able to upload photos, we will be sure to post several when we return to Kampala in a week or so.

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