Category Archives: Field Trips

Go Fund: Ekxang Community Resource Center

Site A plots and beds a go!!
Site A plots and beds a go!!

Jenkins M Photo Credit: Hansila S.

 

You can fund this project by making your kind donation at:

Ekxang Community Resource Center

Introduction

In 2013, I (Jenkins Macedo) was privileged to have won a research grant from the Center of Global Food Security at Purdue University  to undertake a field research project in Laos in collaboration with the International Water Management Institute  in Vientiane, Laos.

In the photo: Georeferencing one of the sites of the project located 100 meters from the school site. In the photo is the Ekxang village Chief in the army fatigue, Mr. Tom and his daughter, one of our project farming family with the Hawaiian shirt, Ms. Khandala [to my right] Faculty member of the Department of Water Resource Engineering at the National University of Laos, Ms. Chantha [to my left] District Agricultural Extension Officer. Photo Credit: Hansila S. IWMI’s Staff

The awarded grant was used to facilitate the implementation of my field research project in Laos towards the Master of Science degree at Clark University in Environmental Science and Policy . Thus, this fundraiser is intended to contribution back to the community in the form of a development project of some of their most urgent needs.

If you are interested in some of my works and those completed in Laos during my time there, please visit my website at INDESEEM and select “Field Trips” from the Category dropdown menu.

Jenkins conducting visual soil testing with Ms. Khandala and the farmers.Photo Credit: Mixay S. NUOL

During my work in Laos from December 2013 through July 2014, I was fortunate to work with farmers and other local stakeholders in Ekxang Village located 62 kilometers from Vientiane capital. The village has about 2000 people mostly from Hmong ethnic group who were settled there about 100 years ago. Ekxang is situated in the Vientiane Province, which is mostly lowlands where paddy rice farming is the main source of income and livelihoods support system. The village neighbors about six other villages in the Phonhong administrative district.

Welcome to Vientiane Province. Photo Credit: Jenkins M.

Ekxang village as many villages in Laos has few public facilities and infrastructures, such as a government-funded primary school, which is poorly furnish, a community health center with one paid nurse who is rarely accessible by the villagers, no library and educational materials for students and teachers are scarce if even available. Access to educational materials is a major challenge for both teachers and students. Teachers, students and their parents struggle to acquire the necessary local specific educational materials and supplies.

Newly constructed 6 classroom school building. Photo Credit: Bournmee M. IWMI’s staff.

Parents who are mostly farmers have to struggle between providing school fees and educational supplies for their children against the decision to buy farm supplies for the next farming season. With the risk of farming pose by climate change in the forms of severe droughts, flooding and poor yield, parents and farmers at Ekxang and nearby villages are face with the same struggle each day.

A panoramic view of Ekxang village market. Photo Credit: Mixay S. NUOL

It was always great buying and selling locally. Photo Credit: Jenkins M.

The provincial and district extension officers are doing their optimal best to reach out to local farmers with whatever limited resources that are available at their disposal to address some of the technical and non-technical issues farmers at Ekxang and other nearby villages continue to experience. During my work in Laos, I worked closely with the District Agricultural and Forestry Extension Officer (DAFOE).

Their centralized office located in the town KM52, in Phonhong district serves over thousands local farmers in villages and small towns. Their office has nothing, but wooden chairs, tables, empty closets with few stacks of papers, few postal boards of some of the common plants and farm animals diseases prevalent in the province. Anything beyond those has to be accessed from Vientiane, which takes several weeks or months to materialize.

We provided water for our neighbors, but that wasn’t enough.

One interesting experience and challenge working with our farmers at Ekxang village was also trying to gain the trust of their cattle. Most farmers own livestock, but not everyone has cattle. The monetary value of cattle far surpass those of small livestock and crop combine. Unfortunately, both of our project sites ( A and B) were directly on the route the cattle take each evening. As such, we had to be herdsmen ourselves why hoping our green fields in the middle of a totally dried landscape didn’t elevate the appetite of cattle.

Study site A usually surrounded by cattle late evenings.

We tried, but eventually failed  when one afternoon I got a call while in Vientiane from the farmer (Ms. Tamda) that the cattle grazed our field to the point only the shoots of the water spinach were left in the soil. At least with the shoots still in the soil, we trimmed the field and reinforced the fence and the regrowth was amazing.

Lesson? Never underestimate hungry cattle because they will do anything to get over the great wall of China to get fresh and green leaves, if they have to.

The Project Overview

Objective:

The main objective of this fundraiser is to help raise $80,000.00 dollars from now to July 2017, which will be used to build the Ekxang Community Resource Center in Vientiane Province at Ban (village) Ekxang for use by the villagers at Ekxang and their neighbors in the Phonhong administrative district.

It is against this background and from my conversations with all the stakeholders that were involved in the project in Laos. The establishment of the community resource center (first of its kind in the province) will not only contribute to their resilience to climate change, but also contribute towards providing opportunities for their children to be empowered with skills and knowledge essential to preserve their cultures, enhance their knowledge and to engage with others from other communities. The community resource center will be a shared facility, which provides multiple services to the people.

The Ekxang Community Resources Center would be equipped with a computer lab with access to the internet, a library which contains textbooks in Lao language and other local languages as necessary and a section  with English and French textbooks. A section of the facility would be the Farmers’ Seeds Bank, which will be managed by the local farmers’ group at Ekxang, which actively works with the agricultural extension officers. Initial plans is on the way to create a business model for the seeds bank. The seeds bank is very important because farmers at Ekxang and other villages always purchase seeds from agricultural stores in the cities. Most of the seeds purchased from these stores are imported from abroad and are very expensive, not tolerant to environmental stressors, such as high temperature and are mostly linked to low yield varieties.

If the farmers are provided with the needed training, skills and materials, they can produce their own seeds year round without spending a dime saving a significant amount of money that can be used for other household needs or as savings.

An office for the district agricultural extension services would be made available and equipped with a computer, a printer, and basic field tools to conduct on-site soil tests, temperature measurements, soil sampling and processing tools, georeferencing equipment and training, etc. for farmers in Ekxang and nearby villages. The office will be equipped with two microscopes and associated materials to enhance their work in the field while at the center.

The Ekxang Community Resource Center will also have at least two conference or meeting rooms each equipped with a media control system, which will include a projector, a computer, speakers, microphone and flat screen television sets for presentations and videoconferencing.

The facility will also have two office spaces for the local Lao Women’s Union and both offices will be fitted with office furnitures, computers, and a printer.

Lastly, the facility will include a playground for children. The primary school at Ekxang doesn’t have a playground. We are hoping to use part of the funds to develop the open field at the school with a football pitch, a basketball court and a playground fitted with fun games for children between the ages of 1-15 years old.

Two generators will be purchased as a stand energy source.

The facility will also have a local staff office, kitchen, separate toilets for both gender, a community access room fitted with educational games and other resources. An office space will be provided for the local Chief at Ekxang to be used for his administrative work in the village, which will provide a form of security for the center.

Note. A complete breakdown for the budget will be provided shortly. 

I strongly believe that the Ekxang Community Resource Center, if funded and developed will bring more light to the farmers and their children and those of the neighboring communities. This will create an active environment, which foster engagement, learning and sharing.

Laotians are sharing, loving and hardworking people who believe in their national identity and diverse cultural heritage. The resource center, if funded and developed, will continue to add to these essential values.

The farmers at Ekxang village are amazing! I believe and trust that with your generous donations or contributions, and the eventual establishment of the resource center, that the people of Ekxang and the surrounding villages will be happy.

The full contributed amount would be used to acquire the needed construction materials and the equipment to furnish the building.

Land Acquisition Contribution

The local government would be able to provide land for the project.

Facility Leadership & Governance 

Ekxang Community Resource Center will be under the direct supervisory leadership of the local farmer’s group at Ekxang village, which will include team members from neighboring villages to form part of the supervisory team. The head supervisory role will be rotated annually by general consensus of team members.

Sustainability 

Sustainability is at the heart of this project A “Commons Access” fee will be designed base on consensus and with both the short and long term goals in mind.

The Indispensable Escapes: The Experiences of a Refugee

Photo Credit: Maria Runggeary, 2012
Photo Credit: Maria Runggeary, 2012

You are reading this brief disclosure because of your interests in refugees and displaced persons. No one wants to be a refugee! It is a very painful life mostly fill with lots of sufferings. So, we should continue to embrace those who are refugees and other displaced population not because we feel sorry for them, but because they are humans like ourselves with emotions, hearts, souls and spirits, desires of belonging and to call a place “home.”  Thus, we should continue to give our best to those in need, because the moment we stop doing that we miss the meaning  of humanity. It is our responsibility (believe it or not) to take care of each other in times of needs, wars and conflicts.

It is my desire and goal to keep creating awareness and education of refugees’ issues globally, but local first. In this process, it takes me great pleasure to announce today that I am almost done with the manuscript of a book based on my experiences as a refugee and those of my siblings as I reflect and recapture the many episodes of escapes from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast and eventually settling in the United States.

I have tried on several occasions to avoid reflecting on my experiences and those of my siblings as we escaped together, but the desire to narrate this story with the goal of helping others learn from what we went through to help with their own stories of whatever they are going through in their own lives continue to upset me why I have delay this for so long. I started writing few months ago, sometimes staying up too late to make sure that this book is ready to come out in later part of 2017.

It is with great pleasure that I would like to announced that the table of contents, which I think best described every segment of the text is now out published here. I hope in the next few months that the remaining chapters can be completed and release to potential individuals who have contacted me with interest to help proof read the initial manuscript.

If you are interested to be one of the reviewers (which is voluntary by the way), please feel free to contact me and I will include you on my send list when the final manuscript is ready for reviewers to read and make their comments. All reviewers’ contribution to the final text will be duly acknowledged.

The Indispensable Escapes: The Experiences of a Refugee

Book Chapters

Table of Contents

Preface

Acknowledgement

Dedication

Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. Prior to the War: The Days Before Christmas

Chapter 3. 1st Escape: The Beginning of Life on the Run

Chapter 4. The Flight from Cape Palmas, Maryland

Chapter 5. Life at 5th Street Sinkor, Monrovia

Chapter 6. 2nd Escape: Monrovia – The Ball of Fire

Chapter 7. 3rd Escape: Providence & the Ghost of Bodies

Chapter 8. 4th Escape: The Thousands Unforgotten Steps

Chapter 9. Bomi Hills: Life in a Rebel-held Zone

Chapter 10. 5th Escape: Almost Dead at Midnight

Chapter 11. 6th Escape: The Bravery of a Sister

Chapter 12. 7th Escape: Exit from Bo to Kenema, Sierra Leone

Chapter 13. 8th Escape: The Frozen Exit from Sierra Leone

Chapter 14. The Tai Massacre: Neighbor Became Executional

Chapter 15. 9th Escape: The Light of Ghana

Chapter 16. Life at the Buduburam Refugee Camp in Ghana

Chapter 17. Resettlement to the United States of America

Enhancing Productivity and Livelihoods among Smallholder Irrigators through Biochar and Fertilizer Amendments at Ekxang Village, Vientiane Province, Lao PDR

 

 

 

 

 

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Title Enhancing Productivity and Livelihoods among Smallholder Irrigators through Biochar and Fertilizer Amendments at Ekxang Village, Vientiane Province, Lao PDR
Publication Type Conference Paper
Year of Publication 2015
Authors Macedo, J.Souvanhnachit M.Rattanavong S.Maokhamphiou B.Sotoukee T.Pavelic P.Sarkis M., and Downs T.
Conference Name Climate-Smart Agriculture Conference
Abstract Climate change and climate variability pose significant risks to smallholders in the rainfed lowlands of Lao PDR. Increased surface temperatures, declining rainfall, persistent drought and depleting soil nutrients all serve to impact agricultural productivity and livelihoods. This study investigates the impact of five treatments on soil nutrients, moisture, plant growth, and yield of water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica). The treatments tested were rice husk biochar only, biochar inoculated with manure, manure tea, inorganic fertilizer and the control. The costs and benefits of the treatments were also assessed. The randomized complete block design was used to assign five treatments and eight replications to the experimental units. Biochar was produced through slow pyrolysis. Soil physical properties were assessed with the visual soil assessment method and 15-randomized soil samples were collected for chemical analyses. Sprinklers were used for irrigation and a weather station installed to monitor the climate. Descriptive statistics and analysis of variance were used to analyze the data. Costs-benefits evaluation of the treatments was conducted to determine the net benefits relative to the initial costs ratio. The analysis of variance of mean yield indicates that the difference in yield among the treatments was highly significant. The computed F value (8.08) was higher than the tabular F value (4.07) at the 1% level of significance. The calculated coefficient of variance of mean yield was 17.33%. The net benefits to initial costs ratio of treatments suggest that the control (5.84), biochar inoculated with manure plus NPK (0.93), and biochar plus manure (0.87) are most preferred. The net benefits and initial costs evaluation of treatments is important to assess whether utilizing these treatments would impact smallholders’ livelihoods. The results of this study contribute to the evidence that biochar could play an essential role to mitigate climate change risks by enhancing soil quality and increase agricultural productivity.
URL www.researchgate.net/profile/Jenkins_Macedo/publication/268076126_Enhancing_Productivity_and_Livelihoods_among_Smallholder_Irrigators_through_Biochar_and_Fertilizer_Amendments_at_Ekxang_Village_Vientiane_Province_Lao_PDR/links/5460dd2a0cf2c1a63bff749b.pdf

Biochar Production Using the Traditional Earth-mound Slow Pyrolysis System with Rice Husk

The following images are from a field research held in Ekxang village of Vientiane Province, Lao PDR from December 2013 to July 2, 2014 funded by the Center for Global Food Security at Purdue University with grant money provided by the United States Agency of International Development and administered by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center supervised under the directives of the International Water Management Institute in Lao PDR and in collaboration with faculty and staff at the Department of Engineering in Water Resources at the National University of Lao PDR, local level governmental authorities and smallholder farmers in Ekxang village,IMG_0867 Vientiane Province, Laos. IMG_0715 IMG_0716 IMG_0717IMG_0719 IMG_0720 IMG_0721 IMG_20140320_162801 IMG_20140320_162806 IMG_0728 IMG_0729 IMG_0730 IMG_0731 IMG_0732 IMG_0733 IMG_0737 IMG_0738 IMG_0741 IMG_0742 IMG_0743 IMG_0744 IMG_0739IMG_0737 2014-03-21 14.41.26 2014-04-09 13.57.18 2014-04-09 14.01.46 2014-04-11 11.04.14 2014-04-09 13.57.03 2014-03-21 14.41.322014-03-30 14.44.27IMG_0867

“Land Reforms, Sustainable Agriculture and Water Resources in the Presence of Climate Change: A Critical Analysis for Policymakers and Development Practitioners in Lao PDR.”

A Supplementary Research Paper.

Brief Note

Over the past several decades, the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) has instituted several policy reforms in hope of attracting investors and development organizations with the aim of working with national partners and other stakeholders to address the effects of climate change and the sustainable use of land, water and agricultural resources for sustainable development. Lao PDR stands at the hub of natural resources along with its competitive neighbors within the region, namely: China, Viet Nam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Myanmar. The development and implementation of policies geared towards the sustainable use of agricultural resources, lands and water driven by sound research is the hallmark for transitioning from a Least Developed Country (LCD) to a prospective developing country, a state that the current government of Lao PDR seeks to overcome with several policy reforms. This paper seeks to provide a critical analysis of the current state of policy reforms in land, water and agricultural resources in Lao PDR with the aim of providing quality information to policymakers and development practitioners that are involved in natural resources management and how to address the negative environmental impacts of climate change. The paper builds on extensive secondary research, which include published academic papers, government policies as well as technical reports, gray literature and project documents released by development organizations and research institutions. The overall goal of this paper is to critically outline and provide constructive recommendations of what have been formulated in terms of policy reforms, their social and environmental implications, if any, successes, failures and how these policies drive the fight against climate change in Lao PDR to protect and conserve agricultural resources, land, and water for sustainable development.