The Environment and Agriculture
by Lori Duff, Grahipla, Côte d'Ivoire
The other day I joined my host family for a day of work in the fields. We set off around 7 a.m.—before the sun was really hot—on our two-mile journey to their land. We carried machetes, basins to carry back food, an ax, and a tool called a daba (a small, scoop-shaped shovel). All that morning we cut down weeds over the yam mounds. All the work was done with our bare hands. There is also no irrigation. All of the crops had been planted according to the rains. The work is exhausting but my "family" is used to long days under the sun and they've become very strong. At lunchtime my "mama" dug up some yams (the "potatoes of Africa") and cut some palm-shaped leaves from a nearby vine (the leaves are called the hands of the monkey). She boiled them and made a yummy lunch. We worked through the afternoon. Then, at the end of the day, we cut firewood to bring home as cooking fuel for the mud stove. As the sun set, we hiked home, our basins full of gathered foods and our heads balancing firewood.
by Sarah McElroy, Kamalo, Côte d'Ivoire
Three hand pumps had been installed in my village many years ago by the Ivorian government. All the pumps were broken when I started my two-year service. I have been trying to help the village get them repaired. I am hoping that, by the time my service ends, I can fix at least two of them. It has taken almost two years to get them repaired because of the high cost to repair the pumps. There has not been enough money in the village to obtain the new pieces necessary to fix them.
Hand pumps bring clean, potable water, but if the pump breaks, depending on the severity of the damage, it can be costly to the village. Repairing the hand pumps has also not been a major priority in the village, since the men make the decisions, while the women fetch the water. At the end of the day, the men still get their bath water, clean clothes, and food no matter how long it took for the women to get the water, or where they got it from.
by Amy Bailey, Grand-Bereby, Côte d'Ivoire
I live in the fertile south, and there's usually no chronic shortage of rain.
Concerning new technologies, I'll be interested to see what effect water treatment will have on people's lives. Moreover, I'm hoping to see a decrease in common parasitic infections among the community with the onset of treated water, but that will be hard to measure, given the many ways that one can contract parasites.