Meinhild shares her impression of Chad and the Eco-Charcoal project:
Leaving Moundou meant also leaving the asphalt road. The road out to Tilo was just sand.
ENVODEV had been to Tilo a couple of weeks before to train them in rice-straw carbonization. Our visit was basically a check-up on how they were doing, and take bags of carbonized biomass that they had already produced back to Moundou.
After having heard about the rice-straw carbonization and having seen many pictures of it – very similar to the once I took – it was good to actually be on site and talk to people about the importance of what they are doing.
The “groupement” in Tilo that ENVODEV is working with, had been discouraged by the fact that most of the straw had been burned before they could use it for carbonization.
I talked to one of the men about the importance of getting young people involved, and more than that, making an effort to explain rice-straw carbonization to kids. It was mostly kids that had put the straw piles on fire to chase the mice and rats that had been hiding in them.
Chadians use an expression... : You have hands of a goat... as in, you are unable to deal with the situation that’s before you like a goat that is not able to remove a difficulty in its way...
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Let’s take the example of these four young guys. They followed everybody on the fields and sat there for a very long time just observing what the men were doing. One of them started helping and very soon his three friends followed his example.
Chadians use an expression that would be literally translated “You have hands like a goat” which is used to say “you are unable to deal with the situation that’s before you like a goat that is not able to remove a difficulty in its way”.
They have to change paradigms. They need to learn to think outside of their “box”. Traditionally, rice straw is burned since it withers very slowly. That’s what everybody knows. When kids living in Tilo started playing with the straw and setting it on fire, they did not think of it as a bad thing. The youth needs to learn about carbonization and the need for it. Living in the village, they do not necessarily understand how valuable briquettes made from rice straw are to people in the nearby city of Moundou. Only when they know the value of the straw, they will understand that they have to protect it.
ENVODEV’s activities have been expanding around Moundou this year.
The day after our visit to Tilo, I joined Ghislain and ENVODEV’s Tchadian Director Dadje Aquilas to the village of Badeï. Badeï is about 16 miles west of Moudou.
Again, soon after leaving Moundou, we left the aspalt road and continued on a sand road.
The goal of ENVODEV’s visit to Badeï was to show the process of carbonization to a “groupement” of women. This time sesame straw was used.
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Again I was impressed by how fast everybody was joining in to help – sometimes even before things had been explained. Ever since that visit in February, the women of Badeï have been busy carbonizing sesame straw.
The couple of hours in Badeï have been a personal highlight of my time in Chad.
- Meinhild Selbach