Obama’s compound (Day 3)

We spent the morning just hanging out as the kids were so excited to show Anja our new home. Anja and Obama met and I think she saw pretty much immediately how great it is to have him as part of our adopted family. We all thought that a little walk around the village would be a nice idea and Obama invited us to visit the compound of his family.

It wasn’t really planned but I quickly realised it was exactly as Maurice had described, so I had to see the loos and started to take pictures. Two outside WCs running to a concrete sump, which over flowed and now went into a hole which was not far from the small planting area. A new communal WC was mid construction (me thinking this could be a great case study and maybe an opportunity for a test case).

The food was being cooked by wood fire (don’t forget the wood here is deep dense hardwood) and then there was a fire pit where it seemed the dried organic material along with the thin plastic waste was being burnt. It was the perfect introduction as to why Biogas systems make so much sense, it also gave me the first taste of how drastically some of the waste management systems need to be changed.

Still learning, I just photographed everything and started to put it all in a mini report when we got home, hopefully a starting point to what I hoped would be something useful. I felt adamant that the waste separation issue needs to be tackled part and parcel with the biogas development but that is a complex issue in the village.

I spoke with Maurice and he seemed pleased we had already started moving things along but warned a little of taking on  issues that are complex too quickly. He quoted a previous boss whose mantra (attached to the front of his desk) was:  “Calm, slow deliberation unties every knot” or in this scenario perhaps  “Calm, slow deliberation prevents many knots”!! 

The next morning Obama took the single black bin from our compound outside with Vincent, I had a quick look in-side and knew that this was all going to be either dumped or burnt nearby. Step one had to be dealing with our own rubbish, small and practical steps to understanding the issues. In Europe we are all used to separating and recycling our waste but it is still a very abstract thing there. Here unless you make significant efforts, either in what you buy or what you do with it, the waste you produce will either be buried or burnt right next to your compound, the issue isn’t abstract here it is really in your face. I’ve even heard that some people burn all of the waste together and use the charred remains as fertiliser for the soil, this is probably one of the biggest concerns.

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