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WAPFOR trains Women Farmers around the Peninsular Forest on rural water technologies

By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya

The time has come to show that not only men in the country can do hard work but women as well in the society. Through the Western Area Peninsular Forest Reserve (WAPFOR) Project, all those that are within and around the peninsular forest including charcoal burners, stone miners, loggers to name a few will receive whatever they wish whether as livelihood package or something beneficial for themselves in their respective homes.

In ensuring that they change the lives of these charcoal burners or wood cutters in the forest, the Western Area Peninsula Forest Reserve has decided to train women in Checsil around the Grafton community on rural water technologies through a process called Escuela Movil Aguas Saneamiento (EMAS).

Women learning how to make water pumps with joy at Checsil Community

The seventeen women and men were engaged on vegetable garden production in their community which is also supported by WAPFOR in order to frustrate them from carrying activities that will plunder the western area forest. The ESCUELA MOVIL AGUASY SANEAMIENTO (EMAS) was created with the eagerness of achieving the necessary supply of drinkable water, and water for micro irrigation in rural and sub urban areas. Its founder and academic director is Mr. Wolfgang Eloy Buchner. The men and women farmers in Checsil will be using this type of technology to carry out irrigation in their gardens after the extensive training which started on the 24th of September 2011 at the community.

During the training exercise, the women and men were warned to take precautionary measures such that they should not allow chaff to remain in the pipes they were working with in order to lessen the chances of setting fire ablaze during the heating period of the pipes, they should remove all sharp edges in other to prevent friction when pumping the water, they must file the pipes to ensure equal edges of the pipes, the wedges should be placed and given allowances of more than two inches in order to prevent strangulation, and for security reasons the pump should be removed after use at the end of the irrigation.

According to the Environmental Officer for the Western Area Peninsular Forest Reserve, Lahai Ensah Bunduka, they will provide such training and facilities to all of the communities that needed vegetable production as livelihood packages. He said the EMAS IRRIGATION SCHEME (water for everybody) is a simple, cheap and appropriate irrigation technology developed by a Bolivian expert Mr. Wolfgang Eloy Buchner in 1996, and added that Emas technology is necessary for the supply of drinkable water and water for micro irrigation in rural and sub rural areas. Mr. Bunduka stated that the EMAS pumps can be easily built from PVC piping and that they can also be easily repaired. He made it known that the pumps which are manually operated can pump water through a maximum distance of approximately 20 metres or through an elevation of 60 metres. He reaffirmed that EMAS irrigation technology is 100% applicable for the vegetable component of WAPFoR. After the training, Mr. Bunduka said the farmers will learn how to make the technology and get their own pumps for their individual gardens before the start of the dry season.

Mr. Bunduka noted that the main objective of the training is to provide a simple approach to water supply for irrigation for vegetable production and water supply for domestic use thereby encouraging farmers to increase total acreage of their farm size and also reduce the burden in fetching water for domestic consumption. He said the facilitation will be a demonstration method and that participants will learn by actually doing the activity after the demonstration, adding that sample pumps will be produced and an irrigation scheme installed at the workshop site.

On the first day of the EMAS training on Rural Water Technologies at the community an introduction, a film show on the construction of small Ferro cement tanks and digging of reservoir was done. The participants were also trained on EMAS hand pump (standard and quantity pump), shaping of reservoir, smoothening of walls, plastering and painting of underground water reservoir, design of cover, start preparation of hand dug well or long distance pumping station. The participants were also taught on construction and installation of gutters and filter tank, make synthetic filter, continue improved hand dug well and long distance pumping station with check valve and air chamber.

On the fifth day of the training, they will repeat hand pump construction, demonstration of tarpaulin construction for rainwater collection, installation of hand pumps at water reservoir and improved well/ pumping station and installation of pedal pump at the reservoir, demonstration of pedal pump for irrigation (if welders among participants, explain details of construction).

This hole is where the tank will be placed for irrigation of their gardens

The most important at the training was that the participants were trained on the maintenance of pumps (possible faults and repair).

Mr. Bunduka said a PRLA research conducted by Green Scenery (ENFORAC member) proved that vegetable cultivation is the most common livelihood alternative for the inhabitants of the 50 villages around the peninsular and that around 25 communities are already engaged in the cultivation of important vegetable crops which he said WAPFoR provided both material support (tools and seeds) and technical capacity for the farmers.

He said that farm sizes are relatively small and largely subsistence and that the farmers contacted complained  amongst other things of lack of water for irrigation purpose as a key factor that impede the expansion of their farm sizes especially in upland areas during the dries. He also said that farming activities are therefore generally restricted to the marshy valleys where water is easily available and water for gardening in these locations is manually collected by buckets and watering cans and beds sprinkled which takes a lot of time and manual labour and also discourages enlargement of farm sizes.

The protection and conservation of the Sierra Leonean Western Area Peninsular Reserve (WAPFoR) is urgent, the main objective of the project is to protect the Western Area forest reserve and its diverse watersheds. In order to effectively achieve the project’s objective, alternative livelihood was included as a component in the project’s framework.

Factors such as logging, stone mining, firewood cutting, shifting cultivation, settlement and road construction are the main causes of deforestation of the peninsular reserve.

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