Letters

Snail farming

At the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Endogenous Development (CIKED) we have been training people about snail farming. This is to protect wild snails as well as to meet the ever increasing demand for snail meat. Our snail projects have witnessed a lot of setbacks from ants which attack and kill the snails. We would like some advice from farmers and experts with knowledge of snail farming elsewhere in the world, on how to deal with the ants. We would also appreciate any information related to this activity and other agro-pastoral activities.

Bodzewan Blasius Kongnyuy, PO Box 406, Mamfe, Cameroon. Email: bodzewan@yahoo.co.uk

The danger of re-using plastic

Plastic rubbish contains toxic substances which can damage soil fertility. To reduce this environmental damage, you can reduce the amount of plastic products produced, reuse them, or recycle them (Footsteps 59). In Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, women and children collect rubbish such as plastic bags and other plastics that have been thrown away. They collect these, not only to protect the fertility of their vegetable gardens, but also to use in their homes.

The plastic bags are used for lighting fires and as fuel for ovens. During this process, smoke and a nasty smell are produced. In spite of that, this way of feeding a fire is becoming increasingly popular. I would like to know if this way of re-using bags and other plastic products threatens people’s health. If so, are we saving the vegetable gardens at the cost of damaging people’s health?

[EDITOR’S NOTE: burning plastics is damaging to health and should not be recommended.]

Jean-Pierre Ndaribitse Kajangwa, Goma/North-Kivu Diocese, Democratic Republic of Congo. Email: ndaribkajangwa@yahoo.fr

Siphoning fuel

I would like to respond to the question about a mouth filter for use when siphoning fuel (Footsteps 70). First, make sure the full container is higher than the receiving one. Then submerge the piece of hose being used to conduct the fuel completely in the fuel in the upper container, ensuring that it contains all fuel and no air. Then use your thumb to block the end which will go into the receiving container, and keep it blocked as you lead it down into the receiving container. Once it is in the receiving container, let go, and then the fuel will flow. No mouth contact is necessary. Good siphoning!

John Crossley Email: emxley@africa-online.net

Equal roles?

African women work very hard but their work rarely earns attention or appreciation. They give birth to many children, work hard on the farms to feed all those mouths, walk long distances to look for firewood and water to prepare food, do all the cleaning, and stay awake all night when a child falls sick. Many also have to endure constant insults and beatings from unappreciative husbands.

A debate on gender equality is much needed, and not only in Africa. But many have mistaken the call for equality as a sign for a war between the genders. Marriage calls for responsibility, cooperation, support and above all love from both husband and wife, it should not be a struggle for power and control. Fair division of household labour should create harmony, and give a sense of pride and belonging to every member of the family. The solution cannot be left only to the UN and other international organisations, but should come from all men and women, married and single, young and old alike.

Ggita Allan, Jesuit Novitiate, PO Box 1726, Arusha, Tanzania. Email: ggita@jesuits.net


Health care Information For All by 2015 (HIFA2015)

Tens of thousands of people die every day in developing countries from common illnesses that can be treated easily. The vast majority die at home or under the care of a primary health worker. A major factor in these deaths is that the parent, carer, or health worker very often does not know what to do and when to seek help. In other words, people are dying for lack of basic health care knowledge.

HIFA2015 is a global campaign that brings together more than 800 professionals from 92 countries around a common goal: ‘By 2015, every person worldwide will have access to an informed health care provider’. To achieve this goal, we need to give a voice to community health workers, to ensure their needs are heard by those in positions of influence.

We would like to invite ideas and suggestions from Footsteps readers on how we can do this. We also invite you to join the HIFA2015 email community and take part in our ongoing discussions. For further details, please see www.hifa2015.org or contact HIFA2015-admin@dgroups.org