Tools for woolcraft

In rural development projects in Ethiopia and Kenya, we have often seen people trying to card, spin, felt or weave their wool using unsuitable tools. Sometimes more appropriate solutions may exist just a couple of hundred miles away in the same country. Sometimes the answers may be known in another continent.

Does any reader know of papers, books or magazines showing how to make textile equipment using local skills and easily obtainable materials? Or would any other project like to share their solutions with us?

For example, in the treeless highlands of Ethiopia, farmers do not have either the wood or the tools to make spinning wheels, or the cash to buy them. Bicycles, which in many countries are used as parts for spinning wheels, are unknown. So we are experimenting making wheels from grass, using traditional basketry skills and taking the necessary metal parts from broken umbrellas. Perhaps Footsteps could have an issue on the theme of locally sustainable craft development?

Alan Waller, Skolg 2C-4, S-450 46 Hunnebostrand, Sweden.

Workshop on family counselling and pastoral work

I would like to congratulate you on the content of Paso a Paso. Recent issues have covered a number of matters relating to the family, such as drug abuse, street children and population issues. As an institute, EIRENE is concerned with the spiritual and emotional health of the family, so we have been very pleased with this coverage.

EIRENE is holding a Regional Congress in Cuzco, Peru from 21 to 26 July this year on the theme of The Family in the 21st Century, with a full programme and some very well-known Christian speakers. We would welcome enquiries from interested readers.

Carlos Pinto, EIRENE International, Casilla 17-08-8572, Quito, Ecuador, S America.

The effect of IUDs

In Footsteps 29 I noted a letter from Bert Oubre complaining that Footsteps had included IUDs as contraceptive methods. He believed that IUDs prevent the implantation of a fertilised egg. Since I find that many people share his view, I enclose some articles giving details of how IUDs work. They primarily prevent eggs being fertilised, mainly by altering the movement of the sperm.

There seems to be no reason to believe that IUDs cause early abortions unless they are fitted after an egg has been fertilised.

Barbara Kinzie, PO Box 2168, Sanaa, Republic of Yemen.

EDITOR: Copies of these articles from medical journals are available.

Drought-resistant crops

For six years I worked in Binga District as manager of a nutrition and health programme. During this time we had two serious droughts. But even in the good years, harvests were not sufficient to feed the people adequately. There are few opportunities for paid employment so most people have relied on food aid for several months a year. This made me realise it would be worth trying different and more drought-resistant crops.

Last year I started focusing on the small scale planting of drought-resistant multipurpose trees and met with much support. With four other people we have now formed a small organisation to promote the growing of Jatropha curcas and Moringa oleifera trees in this district. Other fruit and local trees are also encouraged. So far we have planted over a million Jatropha seeds.

Moringa has grown here since the 1950s. People use the leaves as relish to eat with sadza (stiff porridge) but people rarely have more than one tree and because the leaves are picked regularly few seeds are ever produced. We plan to produce large quantities of moringa seed and to use cuttings to propagate it as well.

We hope that oil and nuts can be marketed to industries in the cities and also used locally as cooking oil and for fuel. Nutritious weaning foods can also be prepared.

Thank you for the interesting articles on moringa which have been a great help to our programme.

Titia Warndorff, Binga Trees, Private Bag 5715, Binga, Zimbabwe.

Networking of experience

I delighted by the idea of networking similar organisations around the world that you have tried to begin developing through Footsteps. Though everything is difficult at the beginning, we have to make a start because people’s appetites will grow as they eat!

Through using my name in Footsteps, I have had useful contacts from similar groups in other countries. Is there any group who could contribute financially to this international networking of experience? Projects able to share their plans and methods of working may find all kinds of benefits in discussing them with others around the world – through letters or, even better, seminars. Sometimes a member could spend time with another organisation. What kind of role do you see Footsteps having in developing such networking?

I see four very positive aspects to Footsteps:

  • It includes sections on appropriate technology.
  • It shares practical experiences in development.
  • It invites its partners to write in-depth articles on their work.
  • You announce the themes of future issues so readers know Footsteps is their magazine and it will only be what we make it.

Nohoune Lèye, Project Manager, PO Box 10, Khombole, Senegal.

EDITOR: In 1997 there will be an important meeting discussing future planning for Footsteps. Developing networking and sharing information will be two key items to be discussed.

Health education offer

The Christian in Health Education Fellowship has a resource centre and publishes a number of health learning materials on various different topics, such as primary health care, drugs, hygiene, AIDS and sanitation. They will send information free of charge in exchange for 20 envelopes (of any size).

Christian in Health Education Fellowship, PO Box 401, Nnewi, Anambra, Nigeria.

Correspondence farming courses

Does any reader know of centres who run affordable correspondence courses in sustainable agriculture in English? Several staff members in Ethiopia would like to develop their knowledge further – but have very limited funds.

Alan Waller, c/o Footsteps Editor, (address as at top of page 6).

Book-keeping for mobile clinics

I enjoy the articles in Footsteps. They are practical and obviously field-tested. The one on book-keeping in Issue 26 has been very useful. I am now using this layout everyday in my work as the administrator of a small health clinic. We provide health care for the Quechua population, often travelling out to remote mountain villages with mobile clinics.

Dr Lawrence Tan, Casilla 575, Sucre, Bolivia.