Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Project RISE Update - December 2009

Hi everyone,
I know it has been some time, but we wanted to give everyone a Project RISE update. As I wrote months ago, me going to Ghana back in August to start the system was merely the beginning of a long process to help the people of Ekumdipe. Naturally, with a project like this, we need to check on things from time to time to make sure things are going well. I knew I would not able to make the trip again this winter, but luckily, another Harvard student, Darryl Finkton (Director and Co-founder of the African Development Initiative) indicated to me this past fall that he would be more than happy to check things out this December. Now that Darryl has been to Ekumdipe there and back, he wanted to share his thoughts on the progress of RISE and the irrigation system. Enjoy!


To continue with project RISE, I recently made a follow up trip to Ekumdipe this past week. After flying into Tamale airport, I met with Dr. Bawa Demuyakor. We filled up the gas tank and began the three-hour drive to the village. Most people are confused at how long it takes to arrive at the village from Tamale, given the relatively small distance, until they see the roads (or lack thereof). Dr. Bawa swerved around crater-sized potholes, glided across the sand latent paths, and threw on the breaks as cattle jumped from the nearby grasses onto the street. But even his skill was not enough for the terrain and the unkept road got the best of our truck, leaving us stranded about 5 km from the community. After fruitlessly trying to fix the truck, Dr. Bawa contacted people from Ekumdipe who eventually picked us up on motorbikes and transported us one-by-one to the village.


Once there, we first spoke about the progress of the trial irrigation pumps. Oddly enough, the rainy season lasted longer than usual, slowing us a bit. The ground needs to be dry in order to begin planting so we had to wait longer than we expected to start the trial planting. However, because it is so important to show that it is possible to farm during the dry-season, we went ahead and began farming on the damp soil.


Things are progressing quite well, and despite this being the dry-season, there are crops growing in Ekumdipe! There are tomatoes, carrots, onions, and many other vegetables that until now, were a rarity in the community. After seeing the successes in the farms, we held a community meeting to talk about the difficulties and forward planning of Project RISE. The farmers were eager to continue their trailblazing work, as all of the community is watching with skeptical eyes to see if they truly can grow vegetables during the dry season. They claimed that now that the home being built in the community (house-building is a communal affair in Ekumdipe) is nearly complete, they can dedicate even more time to the project. After discussing more of the nuts and bolts of RISE, we all left the meeting eager to keep our substantial progress moving forward.


The next big steps will be seeing the crop yield in March. So keep your fingers crossed for the next three months everyone!!!


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