Bird pests

Farmers concerned about birds damaging crops (Footsteps 68) should look for local materials that they can use to make scarecrows. Scarecrows look like people dressed in old clothes. Use wood, crop residues, bags and old clothes. Set them up in the field to scare birds away. Move them every couple of weeks.

The black reflective tapes from videos or cassette tapes could also be used. These should be tied to poles around the fields, so the wind can move the tape. When the sun shines, it reflects light and scares birds away, although they get used to it with time.

Old bells and other materials that produce sound could be hung up so that when the wind blows, they will make a loud noise. You could also look for an automatic siren that will make a loud noise at intervals.

Oluwafemi Ogundipe, Partners for Change Nigeria, Ibadan, Nigeria. Email: ogundipeok@yahoo.com

Stop destroying Lake Tanganyika

Lake Tanganyika, in southern Africa, is under threat. Much of the lakeside environment has already been destroyed. Illegal fishing and hunting destroy wildlife and fish stocks, harmful farming practices cause erosion, and waste products from industry and local households pollute the water. Such damage to the environment results in increased poverty in the region.

Lake Tanganyika plays an important environmental role in the region. Its waters help to provide rain throughout the entire Great Lakes region. The lake is full of many species of fish and the surrounding area is home to many animals and birds. Local people make an income from catching and selling fish. Trees in the surrounding forest help to absorb the carbon emissions produced by industry. The lake acts as an important transport link and tourists bring economic opportunities to the region. However, all this is now under threat.

To solve the problem and reduce poverty across our region, people must be properly informed about protecting and promoting the environment. Everyone needs to be involved – government, industry and local people. Tree planting, waste reduction and recycling programmes need to be set up, and advocacy is needed in the fight against climate change. Let us join forces to save the lake. Destroying the environment that supports our livelihoods can be compared to someone sitting in a tree and chopping off the branch that is supporting them.

Aaron Kalala Karumba, PO Box 3251, Bujumbura II, Burundi. Email: apaacongo2@yahoo.fr

Mouth filter

Does anyone know of a small mouth suction filter, or something similar that could be used to siphon fuel? This would prevent people getting ill when they are filling vehicle fuel tanks from barrels?

Jenny Hall, Benin. Email: ianandjennyhall@hotmail.com

Avocado soap

I would like to know how to make soap out of avocado, as avocados are easy to grow here, but farmers cannot earn a living from selling them. I would also like to know how to make paper out of local materials. This will generate income and also protect the environment. People could use paper bags to replace plastic bags.

Richard Kizito, Appropriate Technology Energy, PO Box 1454, Masaka, Uganda.

Cooking stoves

I research new ideas and technologies for renewable sources of energy. Many useful ideas for cooking stoves and other inventions can be found on this website: www.repp.org/ discussiongroups/resources/stoves/

They include a long-lasting, smoke-free cooking charcoal made from waste products such as sawdust, leaves, coffee husks, and maize husks. This benefits the environment by using up waste. It also improves health as many women suffer problems from breathing in smoke while cooking.

Richard Njagu, PO Box 40, Kiambu, Kenya. Email richardnjagu@yahoo.com