Posts Tagged With: Desertification

The Story Of The Wood In The Sahel

Transporting Sahel Wood Home

The wood of the Sahel tells a story. The trees that once were the wood have told this story before. The wood of the Sahel holds the essence of the country inside. It holds the heat, the sand and dust, it hold’s the religion of the people.

It is blonde sometimes. It shimmers blonde like a woman’s hair from Scandinavia. But the sun has to has stand in the right position for this. It is curved and smooth, like wood that has been shaped and washed by the sea for many years. There are two sorts of sea, the desert and the ocean. Incisions, many incisions. It has empty eyes that look at you.

You might see geckos, salamaders, birds and people’s faces on it. Not real of course but sculptured by the hands of the wind.

In this moment I am seeing with an artist’s eye. I am not a development agent now. I do not want to talk about desertification, wood trade and renewable energies. I just want to tell the story of the wood in the Sahel that has been there forever. I wish the trees can stay there forever.

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Categories: Nara, West Africa | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Thirsty Camels

Three very thirsty camels approaching one of the wells in the region built with Development Aid Funds

In the 1970s, the Sahel came into the lime light and captured international attention when drought and famine killed nearly 200,000 inhabitants of the region.

Though conditions have since improved during the last 4 decades, the Sahel is still fighting a vicious cycle of soil erosion, insufficient irrigation, deforestation, overpopulation, desertification and drought.

International development agencies believe that ambitious tree-planting, dune stabilisation and irrigation projects will help the Sahel, restoring it’s fragile natural environment over time. From Ehtiopia to Niger to Mali projects have been busy with well drilling, irrigation schemes, water and sanitation schemes accompagnied by training measures to raise environmental consciousness with the local population.

Creating access to clean drinking water was and is still one of the priorities of most projects in the region today. Same applied to our project at the time.

But Nara’s ground water to be found in a depth of 200 meters and more was of fossil origin. Among the many ethnical groups of the region are nomads and berbers. Livestock is their life.

The question which arose soon was:  Water for the camels and cattle or for the humans ?

The fossil ground water, hidden in chambers and flowing in the earth so deep that it could not be reached by the local population with traditional drilling methods, could only be touched and brought to the surface after hundreds and hundreds of years with modern Western technology and foreign aid.

Was that a good thing or a bad thing the faithful development assistant on duty asked himself ? Would all the hopes and all the Development built on this fossil water not collapse when the water was finisihed. No, said the KVW ( Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau), we have done a calculation that this water will last a thousand years.  And in a thousand years there will be a new plan !

But they did not count the camels !

Categories: Africa, Animals, Landscapes, Nara, Nature, People | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Nara au Sahel

Nara Main Street On A Week Day

The city Nara is situated at a distance of approximately 380 km North from the capital of Mali Bamako. Nara could be reached within a days travel, if lucky, which meant if there were no incidents like broken axles and several flat tires. In a worst case scenario it meant an overnight stay in the bush.

Nara is situated in a region called ” The Sahel “.

For centuries, the Sahel boasted some of Africa’s most influential civilizations. A narrow band of semi-arid land south of the Sahara, the Sahel attracted both Arab people in search for gold from the Sudan as well as Europeans looking for slaves from West Africa. The two influences merged with native cultures and traditions, creating a culturally complex and fascinating area. The Sahel is widely French-speaking and Islamic. The name Sahel comes from the Arabic language and means “shore”. Villages like Tombouctou, Djenne and Koumbi Saleh are famous today by historians and Trans Africa travelers.

Today the region is one of the poorest and environmentally most damaged in the world. The advance of desertification in large areas and the transformation from Sahel regions into “Sahara like” environments has seen the arrival and departure of many development projects and programmes.

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