Archive for December, 2017

Solar trees: educational and inspirational public artworks with a practical purpose

December 12, 2017

In my recent endeavour to design a pilot renewable energy project in a small peri-urban community on the edge of Kampala; I stumbled upon a local Solar DIY project DEE

based in Lewisham which has solar DIY workshops, campaigns for renewables and most effectively empowers small disenfranchised groups to get their hands in and design creative solar installations such as the ‘Energy Tree’ in Bristol Millennium Square which has inspired the masses. It is a great example of utilising a clarion call for local step by step resistance to the relentless environmental ‘externality’ damage of fossil fuels. It symbolically showcases how a  commons can integrate inclusive social regeneration with practical environmental action while equipping marginalised ‘victims’ of enclosures with agency through technical and creative skills..


The norwegian dugnad tradition

December 12, 2017

What is the Norwegian ´Dugnad´?

Dugnad is a Norwegian term for voluntary work done as a community or collective. The tradition of the dugnad can be traced back to rural communities of the 14th and 15th centuries.  The word in itself is a collective effort of volunteer to achieve an aim. Norway is a country where public goods are accessible but there is some areas that needs more cleaning, painting etc. The word “dugnad” is an old Norwegian word derived from “duge”, which means “be good enough”, “be fit”. At the dugnad everyone do their best and are thus “good enough” to be regarded as equal members of society

How and why do people have dugnad?

Dugnad is often done 4 times a year, during season change where neighbours come together to help their area look better, its often done with the whole family and it’s a way of getting to know your neighbours. At the same time, it’s good for the Norwegian community that people come together and mix. Since Norway is a country where integration still needs a lot of work. We do this at school, clubhouses or kindergartens where usually your kids attend. Dugnad is also an organized effort of neighbours to help out other neighbours who may have difficulties. It can be someone that needs resources or help with something. Dugnad is an important resource for building cooperatives, kindergarten, schools, sports teams etc. to maintain the common areas and to achieve a common goal.

I remember in school we use to come with our families to paint and clean the areas for our constitution day 17th of May, before winter, summer. The experience in itself is amazing you get to see new faces and get to know some of the other kids and youth in your school and neighbourhood. We will usually get an email or be noticed via posters, emails regarding the upcoming dugnad. This also away for your social network to expand and for parents to meet. Norwegians also believe in helping and contributing to the community, if you can help by spending one afternoon in the garden cleaning with your neighbours   you are at least contributing to some change in the world.


Is a Norwegian word used to get people to attend and it’s a word that means dugnad spirit. Every sports team have one day each season where they have dugnad. At the same time, they have something called loppemarked that is a second-hand market where people get to sell and buy second hand things from jackets to furniture’s. This is something everyone that comes to Norway should know or experience once.

The tradition

The tradition with dugnad is that everybody is supposed to contribute with his or her time and work for the common good. From a dugnad perspective the global struggle for sustainable development is a global dugnad. It’s very wired if you don’t take part of this tradition by being there and contributing to the common good in your school, sports team or neighbourhood. It’s been in the Norwegian tradition for so long that everyone is use to it and it’s like talking about how Norwegian love skiing, and how we have one or two days of the year where schools, kindergartens take kids out to ski.  If you don’t take a part in this shared activity you have to live with feeling of being guilty for not helping your children’s school or neighbourhood until the next dugnad.  We have this saying where you have to do your part for the community in Norway.

Being a part of the dugnad day awards you with wider network, a sense of belonging and positive energy from people around you. From my own experience dugnad gives you the joy of helping other and at the same time being a part of your community and it’s a time to do something good together for the local communities. Dugnad is a part of the Norwegian tradition we know and grew up with as Norwegians form a young age. Dugnad is a cultural resonance that represent a way of life or an expectation in Norway.


How Aamin Ambulance helps people in Somalia?

December 12, 2017

Aamin Ambulance is an organization with free ambulance services in Somalia. They have been based in Mogadishu for 8 years now where they aim to help people in need. They help victims of terror attacks, injuries etc. with medical care. They started their services after they saw the need for emergency medical help after some of the attacks the terror group al-shebab have done in Mogadishu. Aamin Ambulance is the first & only community founded emergency service in Mogadishu, Somalia and the only free ambulance in the country.

Amin ambulance have 10 ambulances that are imported second-hand from Dubai with basic first aid equipment, a stretcher and a bench for paramedics or second victim. Except that they have been donated two vehicles from WHO and some first aid courses from Red Cross.

amin ambu

Numbers of people that they have given their services to.

Some history of Somalia and Al-Shebab

Al-Shabab is a terrorist group that wants to turn Somalia into a fundamentalist Islamic state. The group has been blamed for attracts in Somalia where they have killed aid workers, community leaders, civilian leaders, journalist, African union peacekeepers. They want to kill the people that are standing in the way of there thinking and believes. They use the Quran to defend their believes in a way where they actually manipulate people to take actions for their believes.

Somalia has been in war since 1991 within the country they are fighting about who they want to control the country. You have the north part who calls themselves Somaliland and they are fighting for their independence. You have the middle part that calls themselves Puntland state and they also are fighting for their own Independence, the third part of Somalia is south Somalia that is the only places that is recognized.  After Siad Barre´s military regime fell it caused a lot of friction in the country and division from clans. This left Somalia with a weak government and it´s still weak until this day.

Examples on how Somalis came together without using the common goods.

In October 2017 Al-shebab attacked Mogadishu with a big car bomb where over 400 people died and even more got injured. After that they posted a photo of the old leader of Al-shebab giving blood, and that cause a lot of division in Somalia. How can we be fine with him giving blood and not put him in jail? After that the younger generation went online to show how they felt. And after that you had many go found me pages where Somalis from all over the world collected money for the injured ones. The western media wrote articles after the Somali community demanded that people needed to know about what was going on in their community. Just in Norway they collected and gave one million dollars to the injured and ambulances, medicine etc. since they supply is so small. We have a company called Amin Ambulance that worked for free since the found and people the government had went to the high-class citizens and not the average middle-class or poor. Amin ambulance is a private company that decided to give help to the average person that can´t afford health care.

Amin ambulances got about 20 000 dollars from people in the western world during post October 2017 attacks. To be a part of the team that where collecting founds for them I got talk to two of the founders. The only thing they told me is that they only wanted to help the people that can’t get to hospitals and make shore that they were taken care of. This initiative is an example of then the common goods is not accessible for everyone how the community can instead be the common good for the people in need. If it was not for them I believe that many more people would have died.

“The people who are dying daily are our wives, our children, our brothers,” said paramedic Mohamed from Amin Ambulance




How did social media help aamin ambulance?

Social media is big in the Somali community both in and outside. Just by them posting and using facebook as a tool people started to share and donate money. I believe that since the war this is the first time Somalis have come together no matter what tribe or clan they are for the cause. They helped aamin ambulance with gas, medical equipment, money, blankets etc. people made many different pages to make others aware of what is going on. And by using this tool they gave more people access to help and to also inform the world on what is going on.

Aamin AmbulanceHow can their services help more people?

I believe that their services can help more people and if the community continues to empower them with equipment’s and founds they can help more people. We need that for the country to function and in case of more attacks from Al-shebab or others. This is probably the only time Somalis have come together where you have both the post-civil-war generation and the millenniums.



5. The women Group to feed primary school children in the Facobly department-

December 11, 2017


The mid-day meal being non-existent for many boys and girls, attending primary school classes becomes a nightmare. This reality is even more palpable in rural areas where resources are lacking for many families. The children must travel several kilometres to find their parents in the farms in the hope of having something to eat. It is to fight against this hunger issue, a factor of school drop and school failure, that the Ivorian Government set up the National School Canteens Department (DNCS).

Unfortunately, the Ivorian government policy to free school meal has been a failure despite the World Food Program support and help. The government has initiated the free school meal program to improve primary school children studies 20 years ago. The government has asked all villages to build their village school canteen. A school canteen is a school-based facility, usually located in a village or near a town, where students, commonly referred to as “rationnaires”, eat lunch at noon. As a response to the government, the villagers have built their children canteen.  Despite this effort, the government fails to provide food to the different canteen which remain empty during all school year. For those who are lucky enough, they receive few provision that has never been enough to feed all the children. There is therefore a lack of food and good management for the canteens to function normally.

Given the above, communities try to organise themselves to tackle the lack of food and the management of their children canteen issue.

In the department of Facobly, in the western part of Ivory Coast, some parents especially women have decided to address the issue by creating some groups designed to cultivate food especially for the canteen. Thus, 22 women groups, come together to create rice and cassava plantations. The movement started in a small village where a women association created the first rice farm specially for their local primary school canteen.  After few years of success, they extended their experience to other villages who did the same. They have also received the help of some local NGOs and the movement is growing to the entire department. The government still send food provisions to the department, but the women continue to work since the government aid is not enough. The villagers are even now involved in the management of the local school canteen. Now other departments are doing the same and that has helped to improve children school achievement and attendance.



December 11, 2017


The Niger-Delta region is mostly riverine areas in Nigeria, with the predominantly traditional occupation of fishing and farming for its people as a consequence of their geographical location. The Nigeria oil was discovered in 1956 by Shell-BP at Oloibiri in the Niger Delta region which comprises of about nine administrative states namely; Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross Rivers, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Imo and Rivers State, and recently in Ondo state. Crude oil is a natural endowment in a particular community, with its exploitation and exploration; it is expected to be of enormous benefit to such community and its commons, but instead, it has been a dilemma for the Niger-Delta region. Having visited the region in 2014, I understand the complexity of the impact of crude oil deposit regarding the advantages and disadvantages on the macro economy of Nigeria as a nation and the micro economy of the region.

The macro benefit to the Nigeria economy was an oil revenue of about $26billion in 2016. This revenue has not only mean income for the people of Nigeria but also a source of foreign exchange that aid business between Nigeria and the international world. Oil revenue has empowered some Nigerians and has boosted the Nigeria economy by job creation; increase hospitality businesses, influenced by the presence of oil workers and expatriate. While at the micro level in the region, the majority of the oil companies in the Niger-Delta have benefits for education regarding their renewable scholarship scheme for undergraduate and or postgraduate students who are predominantly citizens of the regions. Likewise, crude oil brought about some benefits to career development for the inhabitants of the region, because most of them are hired and trained on the job by oil companies in their region.


 scholarship for Niger Delta indigene 


For the people of this region, these benefits mean nothing but dare poverty and lack of development fostered by government corruption. The inhabitants of the area have been subject to untold hardship through oil pollution, deforestation, aquatic and fishery destruction, militant chaos and insecurity as a result of oil exploration. As it is easy to blame the multinational oil companies operating in this region, it is the Nigeria government that should bear the greater blame for neglecting its people. For example, considering the detrimental effect on the environmental and health of the Niger-Delta people, the region has witnessed an average of two oil spills a day for the past three decades, making it one of the most polluted places on Earth. The people of these communities are left with nothing but damaged farmland and polluted rivers with no significant social amenities like electricity, good roads, potable drinking water, and other basic needs. Also, the locals of these oil blessed communities are still living in primitive rural conditions while multinational oil company staffs and expatriates reside in an area with high technology and sophisticated facilities within the same Niger-Delta.


environmental degradation in the Niger Delta: Oil Spillage

unsafe water for the community


The people believed the government had neglected them; the Transnational Oil Companies are nonchalant to the environmental pollution caused by their operations and the revenue generation from exploration and exploitation of their commonwealth is being channelled to develop other regions of the country like Lagos and Abuja at the detriment of the Niger-Delta region. And being the “goose that laid the golden egg”, they decide it is time to take what belongs to them and have autonomy over their resources and destiny, which led to the birth of the “Niger Delta Militants“. But regrettably, they are considered to be an association of criminals by the Nigeria government unlike late Ken Saro-Wiwa who was considered political activist that campaigned against unfairness to the people of Niger Delta. Many of the locals in the region have been jailed, maimed, killed, raped and abused during the confrontation with the Nigerian military. For example, villages like Odi and Ogoniland have been destroyed by the Nigerian army during counter-insurgency response with the use of excessive force and military measures.

The kidnapping and oil bunkering by the militants, though considered forceful and unlawful has brought some benefits to their community in terms of local revenue, jobs, community wellbeing and investment in the development; private school, hospital, housing and transportation businesses owned by the militant’s group members. Though, the aim of these militants is to demand their share of the oil wealth, to elevate their community and provide for their kinsmen. However, their actions have had a trickle-down negative effect on the community regarding the direct impact of conflict, underdevelopment, lost of businesses and instability that has characterised the region since the discovery of crude oil. Hence, the endowment of the region with oil and gas as natural resources and a commonwealth of the people of the region have turned out to be a dilemma yet to be resolved.

The Student Social Movement (FESCI) – A voice of students

December 11, 2017




The Student Federation of Côte d’Ivoire (FESCI) is an Ivorian student association that has been created in 1990 to claim their rights. The federation is a social movement that has been established by students to fight for their rights and well-being. They claim better study conditions, better jobs prospects, scholarship for the most in need. Since its creation the federation has gone through multiple challenges. This is the first social movement created by the students to challenge the old movement established by the government since independence days. Students were not allowed to revendicate and have no rights to speak their voice. In 1990, due to the new economic situation in the country, the government took some measure such as cutting salaries, budget, and concerning students, they have been deprived from opportunities and the future become dark for them. Bursaries and scholarship have been cut, free transport have cancelled, access to further education after the First Degree has been restricted to certain subjects. Face to that, the students have decided to fight through a different and an independent student organisation.

The government first reaction was to arrest them, and to reject the movement. But the students stayed stronger and motivated. In 1990, the year of its creation, there has been more than 300 arrests, and the closure of the university. By the year 1991, most students joined the movement, which was getting stronger. Colleges, professional schools, private schools, all joined the movement. The government has tried to stop the movement by suspending it and declaring the former one as the legal and sole student movement in the country. The resisted to this government decision and continue claiming their Rights. Two years after its creation, the movement become stronger and has succeeded in many of its fights.  Bursary and scholarship have been replaced by other financial supports, postgraduate studies have been re-opened to all subjects.

Despite the government severe sanctions such as imprisonment, banned from university, financial suspension, to the members of the movement, especially the leaders, the movement has resisted. The Federation is now one of the strongest and the more reliable regarding student organisations in the Ivory Coast.

Grabbing the plantations of the forest of Goin-Debe in western Ivory coast

December 11, 2017

The population of the region of Guiglo have recently decided to invade the forest of Goin-Debe, a forest that has been taken from them by the Ivorian authority. The forest has been infiltred by illegal occupants who have created plantations and wealth. Plantation of cocoa, coffee and rubber trees. The Ivorian authority have seized the plantations and taken a decision to evacuate the forest without saying what they are going to do with the plantation created.

They just told people to go, forcing them to leave, employing military force.  Consequently, the autochthone population has decided to grab all the plantation and the space taken by the government. They were accompanied by few members of local NGO such as NGOs NOFNA and OPRFT.   They wanted to show the authorities that with political will, they could have sorted the situation since Goin-Debe forest belong to the local population.

They started the invasion by different sit-in and camping in the forest bringing with them friends and family. After three days of camping between the two contiguous forests, they have shown that the occupation and the grabbing of their space is possible. Increasingly people started joining and by the end of a month, most of the plantation have been occupied.

As a response to the occupation, the government reacted violently and told them to  leave the place. People refused to leave, and they started to resist instead. They claimed the place as their belonging and as a place of their ancestors. They also argued that they could not abandon the plantations, especially when the found plantations are producing. However, the resistance could not last since division and fight started within the communities which is now to the advantage of the government.  The communities need to avoid mistrust and clashes, instead they should stay together and act as a strong force to face the government if they want to get their land back and take advantage of the plantations. They should create unity, and a sense of fighting for the same cause.


Workers fill sacks with cocoa beans on October 6, 2016 at an agricultural cooperative in Guiglo. 

Mental Health in Tanzania Receives a Voice

December 11, 2017

The founder and CEO of Marcus Mwemezi Foundation, Belinda Nyapili gives a voice to Mental Health in Tanzania in collaboration with China Global Television Network (CGTN) Africa. Through personal loss of her own son, Marcus, and the challenges she encountered as a mother during her mental recovery. She experienced first hand the limited resources channelled to supporting mothers’ with Mental Health symptoms in Tanzania.  This prompted the birth and desire in Belinda to spearhead a drive with passion to start a support program for mothers’ in need of mental health assistance.

The Marcus Mwemezi Foundation is finally receiving a platform to share through CGTN Africa a commitment and focus on addressing Mental Health issues in Tanzania.


“Millenari di Puglia”: idea of respect and protection of century olive lands for a sustainable tomorrow.

December 10, 2017


The civilisation of the Olive Millennial Trees it is deeply-rooted in the Italian region of Puglia. Olive trees are one of the natural elements that characterise the territory and the landscape of Puglia.The primacy of the world with over 60 million specimens belongs to this region. More than half are ancient olive trees, widespread especially in the area of the high Salento (the plan of century olive trees) ,in the territories strip between Fasano, Ostuni, Carovigno, and also neighbouring municipalities.

If we look back in the history ,the first olive cultivation was developed by ancient
civilizations in Palestine, Syria, and Crete and exported overseas. During the Roman
Empire this crop became really popular and part of a flourishing market thanks to the help of emperor Traino that improved roads and builds the “Traiano road” and harbours infrastructure to expand trades with the east side of Mediterranean areas.

We can also find some really interesting stories about crop technique thanks to Messapians civilisation that almost 3000 years ago has improved the quality of this precious liquid using mixture of commercial and more productive olive oil with a wild olive tree of this area calls “Olivastro” of this land.


Another relevant treasure to understand the common tradition of olive tree plantation is present in the “De re Rustica e De Arboribus ” by Giulio Columella. In this book, he discussed revolutionary techniques that have improved this trade by suggesting to plant olive trees in regular lines, with plants at a distance of 60 feet from each other. Examples of this method are found in many thousand years old olive trees which are located close to the areas of the Traiano road.

The landscape of the century olive trees has a particular value for local people of Puglia because it is a common resource in the local economy and it is also a unique heritage in the panorama of the world agricultural landscapes.

Millenari di Puglia is a registered association with offices located in Ostuni (Br). Established by its two founder members both of whom graduated in Environmental Science and who the subsequently won Apulia Region competition with their project named “ Active Substances 2012”.

The association employs biologists, archaeologists, tourist as well as nature guides and they are recognized by the Apulia Region as it is believed that there is a strong synergy between environmental development and the opportunity for people to explore the archaeological heritage of Puglia. The work of Milleanari di Puglia offers the opportunity for the people to visit and experience places of natural, cultural and archaeological value through the organization of very interesting and health stimulating itineraries which can be undertaken on foot or by bicycle.

Places such as old Hypogeum oil mills, ancient natural tracks, canyons, caves and the rock settlements, traditional farmhouses and many others places which are generally not well known became part of a real fascinating open-air museum to enrich locals commoners of their own past history and sensitise them on themes of sustainability and respect of nature.

The project “Millenari Di Puglia”, embodies the protection of intrinsic value and inheritance of Puglia’s thousand years old olive trees, old hypogeum oil mills and the oil that is produced in this region.

The project revolves around landscape which is characterized by its enduring and centuries-old olive trees. The regional authority in Puglia was very aware of the great land heritage and of its unprotected status and in June 2007 enacted a regional law (n. 14) to protect them from illegal explant already happened during the late 90’. This act was followed by a census of the centuries-old olive trees.

The idea for the Millenary di Puglia project took inspiration from Regional Law and subsequent census. Starting with the areas prescribed by Law as “monumental olive groves”, one of the first actions of the project required the identification and classification of olive tree plants that have a particular and predetermined dimension and trunk.

These trees/groves became a great touristic interest, and the information about them has been available on their website, along with other environmental and cultural assets such as farmhouses, old hypogeum oil mills, rock churches, protected areas and areas of natural beauty and interest.

Simultaneously the project argued that the oil obtained from these monumental plants can create a clear boundary between industrial oil production and local oil makers to promote and encourage a sustainable economy.

The systematic attention will be given to others areas in Monopoli, Fasano and Carovigno. The aim of the project “Millenari di Puglia” is the tutelage of this landscape through the promotion of initiatives run by local commoner on the territory protection to ensure future for this beautiful work of mother earth.

Enclosures through growth of Free Schools

December 10, 2017

Image result for canary wharf college

Continuing from my previous blog, the driving out of commoners from the Isle of Dogs has shown it’s pattern featured in the aforementioned housing trend and the increasing emergence of Free Schools on the Isle.  Children from poorer families are being encroached on through growing gaps in service provision. Since securing the tenure for Canary Wharf College in 2011 there have been a number of sites opened including secondary and FE provision for the Schools which are ‘unregulated’ by the Council and given free reign to pander to the fears of the wealthy -enclosing their children from exposure to (their perceived) banality of commoner kids..

In cync with the model of design that these new free schools outline ‘75% of the Westferry Printworks site designed to feature beautifully landscaped outside space’. Therein a contradiction emerges between ‘spatial mingling’ between children and material which enables a shift in discussion ‘from knowing about the world towards knowing with the world’ in the epistemological sense.. Rautio (2014) .Yet the subjectification flowing from this restriction of movement tends to reconfigure this ‘mingling’ between child and place, allowing for the possibility of a relationship only within the context of an understanding of land as exclusive…restricting the broader concept of ‘social space for mingling’

The underlying point of why this trend (the relentless move to Free Schools) is concerning; is that the parents and politicians who are driving it are wanting ‘private’ schools to be paid for by the taxpayer, i.e. That they want the privileges and exclusivity that go with private schools but without the paying the price themselves. Also because there has been an obsession with quantity and numbers for the league tables, it is about filling the classroom to maximum capacity and inevitably quality education will be compromised (eg there is no requirement for QTS for the teachers). It’s all about ‘bums on seats’ and tick boxes..

This trend has coalesced with the tendancy for new build housing developments over 2 bedrooms to be unaffordable whether  private rent or for sale. Even amongst the recent and new housing stock which is for 1 child families the minority is ‘social housing’. So unless your mortgage is paid off and your children have left education, direct impact on your family and lifestyle. This trend is embedding a more fragmented society where soon the Isle of Dogs (and elsewhere) will be left socially cleansed unless you are fortunate enough to inherit older property on the Isle.