Bo schools celebrate the Day of the African Child – in style!
Schools in Bo took to the streets with a brass band and banners. They carried placards with messages such as “Parents to send your children to school”, “Lets act now to keep girls in school” and “Say No to child labour”
BDEC School Messima have completed the installation of a new water pump to the delight of children and staff. They texted “Hello all we r so happy today we the staff and pupils of the BDEC school Messima for the installation of our pump today. A big thanks to st Magretes school in the UK for sponsoring us.” The children sang “If you’re happy and you know it say Thank You…” as you can see in this video
UK Aid has also recognised the significant contribution being made by improved waste management in Bo city by contributing to a roll out programme for the cities of Kenema and Makeni adopting the good practice already established within Bo. Implemented by Welthungerhilfe, a German international non-governmental organisation, “The Improved Waste Management Project” started in Bo as a pilot and is currently being rolled out to Kenema and Makeni cities in Sierra Leone with support from the UK Government.
Glenn and Derek visited the the sites designated for waste landfill in these two cities. They made recommendations for their layout and management, with detailed advice on best practice for managing landfill and compost sites to minimise litter, odours,bird nuisance, vermin and fire risk.
Bo council have decided that the Bomerh (the old, unregulated ‘central dump’ in town) is to be converted into a public park with sports pitches. It is the last and largest of the 134 illegal dumpsites in Bo city whose clearance has been delayed due to logistics and the resources required and the need to resettle illegal settlers who had encroached some of its sections for businesses.
Work commenced in May to reprofile the 3.2-acre site. The proposed rehabilitation will provide recreational open space which is currently lacking in the city. The ambitious scheme will include a multipurpose sports surface, walkways and picnic areas. A stream passing through the site will be re-profiled to make a water feature.
At the same time the District Medical Officer of Health has openly declared that in his opinion the reduction level from 60% of the population of Bo likely to contract malaria down to 40% in Bo city can be explained by the closure of the open dumps and the improvements to waste collection and management services by the project.
Why would a friendship link like One World Link become involved in developing the waste disposal system for the City of Bo? The answer is that we have been able to bring together specialists from our own county with our friends in Bo City Council.
As you may have read in past articles, it all started with a study of the needs of the Council, then developed into a pilot project that has now become a full-blown internationally funded programme from our very own government.
The pilot showed that a skip type of collection service for this community was the right way to go. No real room to have large lorries moving between households, so now Bo’s rubbish is collected in skips. Each skip is strategically placed around the city to accommodate as much of the population as possible, (more skips will always be welcomed). Each location has a minimum of two skips to enable both garden and food waste to be separated from the general waste after all the dry recycles are removed. This is the principle of the operation, but in reality it does not work fully, thus still more behaviour change is need to Waste disposal – a national flagship project Glenn Fleet returns to Bo to find that the project has continued to develop despite the Ebola outbreak get users to separate the material (it will come in time).
At the front end of the operation a youth organisation, Klin Bo Services, are contracted to gather waste door-to-door for a small fee or, if the residents do not want to pay, they may take their own waste to the skips. The process of sorting the recycles forms part of the youth organisation’s contract and they can sell on the recycles.
The council then take the skips to official disposal site. This site is presently being developed to accommodate not just the disposal of the general waste, but also to process the green waste into compost. Some £300,000 will be spent on this part of the project, which includes the development of the road, new building, a machine to shred the green waste and a weighbridge. On top of this, two second-hand skip lorries have been purchased. These lorries are well built and should last for many years if looked after. Only a small proportion of the city is covered so far and there is much to do to expand the scheme and to make it sustainable in the long term but a major triumph is that it never stopped during the Ebola crisis and the Ebola outbreak is now over, fingers crossed.
Recycling and re-use are important aspects of the project. Fifteen small local enterprises are now involved in recycling waste and turning it into a profit. They came up with a variety of ideas and were finally chosen for project support in open competitions. Their ideas range from composting waste to making handbags, pots, slippers and bio-charcoal, and even making dolls’ houses out of paper waste. A potentially large industry could come from manufacturing pavestones out of waste plastic.
The four-year project is managed by Bo City Council with WHH of Germany, and is funded by £3.2 million of British aid, a long way to go. For more detail, including some excellent video, see the project Facebook page: Aluminium waste is turned into cooking pots.
The streets of Bo City are cleaner than ever thanks to their waste management programme in which One World Link and Warwickshire County Council have played a vital role. A photographic report by DFID (UK government aid) shows litter–free streets in all parts of the city. OWL and WCC supported Bo City Council in setting up a pilot project for waste management and now that project has been extended with support from DFID with results that you can see in these pictures. See their report…
Throughout the Ebola crisis schools here were able to make contact with some of their link teachers by text, sending messages of support and sympathy. We have only heard of the death of one pupil and one teacher. The schools in Bo were closed for 9 months and some buildings have suffered damage due to lack of maintenance. We cannot imagine how difficult that long period of confinement with little social interaction was like. The whole education system was thrown into turmoil with pupils not able to sit their exams and proceed to the next grade.
When they re-opened in April 2015 we heard from one school that many pupils were slow to return due to fear of the virus, since the official ‘all-clear’ wasn’t announced til October. Many Leamington and Warwick schools broke with our usual protocol and held fundraising events for post-Ebola support (always popular- cake sales, non-uniform days and even a ‘Boogie for Bo’ outdoor disco!) We are currently working on an exchange project where pupils are writing about ‘Keeping ourselves safe’. Children here have made posters and written texts about aspects of safety such as food hygiene, road and water safety and Esafety. We are very much looking forward to receiving the work from Bo to see what aspects of safety their pupils have chosen to write about.
Mair and Paul will be meeting many of the link teachers and visiting some of our schools so we look forward to hearing up-dates on their return. We hope that we shall be able to send another group of teachers to Bo under the “Connecting Classrooms” scheme of the British Council and a return visit by teachers from Bo during 2017. Meanwhile, plans are already underway for our next Day of the African Child here in Leamington, June 2016
Mair Evans and Paul Atkins are in Bo to restore school links and plan for new cultural activities
As 2016 begins, and now that Sierra Leone has been officially declared Ebola free, it is time reconnect with our friends in Bo and to reestablish some of One World Link’s activities there.
It is therefore with a sense of optimism, tinged with reality, that Mair Evans and Paul Atkins are making a trip in January (as this newsletter goes to press they have just arrived safely).
Initially, they will make contact with as many link schools as possible as part of the ‘connecting classrooms’ programme as well to establish the current needs of teachers and to share this with our partner schools the district. They have taken teaching materials with them as well as ideas for shared projects between the institutions with a hope to help them start working together again.
In addition to this, they have a plan to make cultural connections with arts groups and Mair Evans and Paul Atkins are in Bo to restore school links and plan for new cultural activities with an aim to share ideas with similar creative people in the local district in the UK. It is very much an exploratory visit to explore the possibilities and much will depend on the response given the recent crisis and the predicted raw nature of current feelings following the disaster, but it is also a time for rebuilding and artistic expression can be an effective way of helping that process.
Although most of the 16 days will be spent in Bo, it is also hoped that a short time will be spent in Freetown, Makeni and Kenema talking with our friends there. Both Mair and Paul are excited by the visit but understand that the success of their aims will depend on how quickly the country has recovered and picked itself up after the recent Ebola epidemic and realise that although much can be planned, many ideas will only be sowing seeds for the future.