A few years ago I was reading about the deaths in Bamako during a freak torrential rain that destroyed hundreds of homes. Twenty seven people killed as a result.
The same also occurred in my home town again this year. Poor souls too poor to own land, so they build shanties along the banks of creek beds. A disaster waiting to happen. They get away with it for ten or twelve years…. then……
Reading about floods south of the Sahara seems strange, and reminded me of this quote from a Peace Corps worker memoir about development work in Ecuador……
“And the basic problem still remains: if it is too dry in the dry season and too wet in the wet season, just how and when does one make a garden?” (Living Poor: Peace Corps Chronicle. Moritz Thomsen. Pg 103. Rio Verde, Ecuador)
Sometimes, you just can’t seem to win in the face of some obstacles. Some obstacles are natural, some cultural, some educational, and other times it’s simply confronting someones plain laziness or stupidity.
I think of a group of eighteen ladies we helped to develop a drip irrigated community garden. They fenced it off with a wooden stick fence and grass weaved mats. It was a beautiful sight to behold. It worked wonderfully at keeping the animals out. Their participation requires these ladies to devise a plan to fence off their garden using the natural resources around them. This is part of the easily repeated concept. No one can afford a wire fence here. We do not provide them. As a result they come up with great local solutions that do the job well.
The women had planted green beans and faithfully added water to the irrigation systems. I made at least a dozen follow up visits over two months and was quite pleased with the progress. I returned to Canada before their impending harvest.
Finally, the ladies efforts were paying off as they harvested about ten kilos of beans one day, the first early fruits. The women collectively agreed they would harvest the whole crop in the next few days.
However, a freak wind and rain blew in that night. The wind caught a corner of the garden and toppled a six foot section of their protective stick and grass wall. The women awoke to chickens, goats, sheep, and two cows eating up the last morsels of their entire harvest. Months of work that was to provide health for up to 180 family members was gone.
The women were very discouraged and dropped out of the program…
Too hot, too cold
Too wet, too dry
To windy….. and the wind cost them more than they had to give.