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Zanzibar

by Community Forests International on February 6, 2010

Assalaama aleykum, peace to you.  We are now in Stone Town, Zanzibar, our last stop on our way to Pemba Island.  Pemba is about 50km north of Zanzibar, across the deep Pemba Channel, and we will be travelling there about a week from now.  For the time being we are studying under Mr. Farouk at the Institute of Swahili & Foreign Languages and are finding him to be a great teacher.  We will also be beginning a home-stay tomorrow, which should help us get to know the culture and language a bit better before moving on to Pemba.

Stone Town shoreline

Stone Town shoreline

View over Stone Town

View over Stone Town

Old castle and alleyway

Old castle and alleyway

Zanzibar has been in total blackout since early December, due to an aged underwater line that brings power from the mainland. Only those businesses that run generators have power, and even then it is intermittent as people attempt to conserve fuel. Its amazing how conservative  people can be when there is no other choice.  As our Permaculture instructor Rosemarry Morrow said “People don't change until the cost of staying the same is greater than the cost of change”.  That sounds about right.

I can imagine an Unguja (Zanzibar Island) self-sufficient in its energy and food needs and I think most people here would find that a desirable notion these days. Islands present great opportunities for resilient self-sufficiency, a good example being Cuba.  And the climate change scenarios presented by the world's scientists provide compelling support of increased regional solidarity as well, if for no other reason than disaster preparedness. All it takes besides the willingness of the people is a little bit of knowledge, there are no excuses after that really.

Narrow alleys in Stone Town

Narrow alleys in Stone Town

Estelle exploring streets of Stone Town

Estelle exploring streets of Stone Town

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Traditional home entrance

On Pemba the need for resilient self-sufficiency is even greater than here given its relative remoteness and higher population density.  A part of the vision that CFI shares with citizens of Pemba is the development of the island's first post secondary institution, tentatively named the Pemba Sustainability Institute.  This institute would help to develop the knowledge and skills necessary  to create a sustainable culture on Pemba, which could then act as a model for the region.  If you'd like to learn more about the Pemba Sustainability Institute please visit:   http://communityforests.iglooprojects.com/

We are actively seeking volunteers with relevant expertise who would like to contribute to the development of curriculum, in the areas of ecological forestry and advanced agriculture for the tropics in particular.

Boy on school break

Boy on school break

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Neighbourhood

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