Archive for April, 2011

The City Of Boughzoul – Algerian Model Low-Carbon City

April 28, 2011

Writtn by Moshe Terdiman

On December 7, 2010, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the leading public environment fund dedicated to developing countries, unveiled a groundbreaking project in the planned city of Boughzoul in Algeria that will be built with an innovative clean energy focus designed to integrate climate change responses into urban development plans.[1]

The aim of the new city Boughzoul is not only to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also to use that model for all future city developments in Algeria. Boughzoul aims to be a low-carbon city that doesn’t contribute to overall greenhouse gas emissions. In order to achieve these aims, the GEF, together with the UNEP, are going to invest $8.2 million, with another $22 million added from other sources to help introduce best practices on renewable energy, clean transportation and energy efficiency during the construction of the city. These will include the construction of zero-carbon buildings, streetlights using LED and photovoltaic systems, solar water heating systems, and a Center of Excellence for Technology Transfer. When construction of Boughzoul is completed, the cumulative net greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 3.4 million tons. When completed, Boughzoul will be an administrative and business center with a population of over 400,000 and its own airport.[2]

Apparently, Boughzoul was chosen as the site for the Algerian model low-carbon city because of its strategic location. It is located 200 km inland south of the capital city of Algiers, and it is linking northern Algeria to southern Algeria. It is also considered as a passageway to the eastern and western parts of the country. Moreover, already integrated inside the city are construction, agriculture, industry, and renewable energy projects, what makes it a suitable city to serve as the alternative economic capital of the country instead of Algiers. In addition, already in the 1970s, Houari Boumédienne, the then Algerian President (1965 – 1978), announced his wish to make Boughzoul the capital of Algeria instead of Algiers, but nothing has come out of it.[3] 

The construction of the new city Boughzoul is part of the Algerian government’s attempt to confront the challenge of urbanization while being aware of the need to build cities with the smallest energy and emissions footprints possible. Indeed, according to the CIA World Factbook, in 2010, the urban population in Algeria constituted 66% of a total population of 34,994,937 inhabitants and the rate of urbanization was 2.3%.[4]

It should be mentioned that Boughzoul is not the only initiative aimed at developing low-carbon cities in the Arab world. The first initiative is Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates. This project was initiated in 2006 and its first phase will be habitable by 2015. It is also a home to Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, which was opened in 2009 and focuses on research on clean energy.    

The Algerian government not only hopes that other new cities in Algeria will follow Boughzoul’s footsteps to low-carbon development but also that other countries throughout the developing world, and especially in Africa, will adopt this model.

Somali Agricultural Technical Group (SATG) – Yeheb: An Endangered Multipurpose Shrub

April 14, 2011

Yeheb is a multi-branched shrub that grows only in the border area between Somalia and Ethiopia. Yeheb (Cordeauxia edulis Hemsley) belongs to the Fabaceae (Caesalpinioideae) and is the only species within the genus Cordeauxia.

An evergreen dry-land shrub, yeheb grows prolific bunches of pods that contain seeds of a nutritious food quality that the local people prefer to staple crops such as maize and sorghum. The tasty seeds with a thin easily cracked testa and a chestnut-like flavour, roasted, boiled for sweet liquor, occasionally eaten fresh, make an unusually nourishing and balanced food. The seeds are rich in energy containing 37% starch, 24% sugars, 13% protein, 11% fats and various minerals. The foliage supplies fodder for livestock and wild animals. The wood is used as firewood and more often as construction material.

Since few nutritious plants grow in yeheb’s native habitat, it is much exploited by animals and humans, causing slow or no regeneration. Yeheb is now listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

It is necessary to increase the efforts to domesticate yeheb in order to prevent its extinction and to develop its commercial benefits for the local people in the fight for poverty reduction and food security. Yeheb has remarkable commercial potential. Its tasty seeds with smooth consistency comparable to cashew, macadamia, pistachio or hazelnut would be marketable world-wide as a delicacy and it may also provide ingredients for medicine and food industries. The demand in markets – both local and international – exceeds the supply. The crop has a potential to be a valuable food in other hot, dry regions where the soils are poor and rainfall is low and erratic.

This piece is taken from the website of the Somali Agricultural Technical Group (SATG).

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Somali Agricultural Technical Group (SATG) – Deforestation and Charcoal Export

April 14, 2011

Deforestation and charcoal export to Middle Eastern countries is one of the major causes of environmental degradation in Somalia. In recent years illegal cutting of trees to produce charcoal for export has become a booming business with considerable profits. Most of the charcoal is prepared in southern Somalia and exported through the ports in Mogadishu and Kismayo. Lack of local administration in the southern regions has exacerbated the problem.  Somaliland and Puntland experience the same problem but to a lesser extent. As a result of deforestation, land suitable for grazing is destroyed. This practice will inevitably affect the nomadic communities who entirely depend on grazing. Some of the most visible results of this action are extinction of wildlife and endangered crop species, soil erosion, soil degradation and an irreversible long-term impact on the agricultural ecosystems.

It has been noted that deforestation has several key drivers including the lucrative charcoal export trade and expansion of human settlements. Because of the lack of governance and rule of law there are several gaps in the fight against deforestation. Some NGOs are now shouldering the burden of protecting Somalia’s environment. These NGOs should be strengthened and supported in their causes and they should also co-operate in matters of mutual interest. The Transitional Federal Government (TFG), international community and the UN agencies should liaise with Somali charcoal exporters and other stakeholders to take credible action in stopping excessive deforestation for use in charcoal production.
This piece is taken from the website of the Somali Agricultural Technical Group (SATG).

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Somali Agricultural Technical Group (SATG) – Improvement and Sustainable Utilisation for Plant Genetic Resources in Somalia

April 14, 2011

Food insecurity and food shortages are crippling consequences of civil unrest and the lack of governance institutions in Somalia. Agriculture-dependent communities in Somalia are in dire need of more productive crop varieties which can make up the shortfall.

Over the two decades since the governmental collapse, organizations interested in alleviating poverty and improving nutrition in Somalia have introduced several new varieties of key crops. However, none of these varieties were adopted by local farmers because they proved insufficiently adapted to Somali climactic conditions.

SATG has embarked on a project aimed at isolating those varieties which will perform best in Somalia. SATG cooperates with crop research centres and breeders to source the superior varieties, and then tests them in Somalia.

In the Gu season of 2009, SATG introduced several varieties of key crop species, including maize, sorghum, mungbean and groundnuts, from ICRISAT, CIMMYT, AVRDC and Western Seed-Kenya, and tested them for yield and agronomic performance. All new introduced varieties were compared to the locally-grown varieties by the farmers.

The variety trials for the evaluation of the new varieties and demonstration plots were conducted in the Lower and Middle Shabelle regions of Somalia, and were carried out in collaboration with partners such as WFL, CEFA, and SAGRA. The outcome of these trials has been very encouraging, suggesting a role for these varieties in overcoming food insecurity in Somalia.

This piece is taken from the website of the Somali Agricultural Technical Group (SATG).

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Somali Agricultural Technical Group (SATG) – Phosphorus as the Most Important Factor Limiting Crop Production

April 14, 2011

A study by SATG members has confirmed the role of soil phosphorus deficiency in limiting crop yields. Phosphorus was found to be the single most important factor determining crop yields in the Bay Region of Somalia. Experimental results obtained from sorghum and mungbean trials showed that crop growth and yield significantly increased between 100% and 400% when Triple Super-Phosphate (TSP) was properly applied. Similar results were obtained when animal manure was incorporated into the soil during land preparation. Phosphorus fertilizers were shown to promote early seedling vigour and crop maturity of both sorghum and mungbeans.

The subsistence nature of farming in the Dryland Agriculture of the Bay region is based upon the exploitation of soil nutrients using a sorghum monocropping system. The effect of this type of farming on soil degradation and nutrient depletion is widely reflected in the poor yields of both sorghum (the main crop) and other crops grown in the region. The availability of phosphorus to plants is determined by the soils’ ability to supply nutrients and by plants’ ability to utilize the supplied nutrients. Phosphorus deficiency impairs the normal crop growth and yield through complex biochemical and physiological mechanisms.

The application of phosphorus can therefore be expected to increase crop production and thereby alleviate the acute shortages of staple grain which currently affect Somalia. The study found that the ideal method of phosphorus placement was simple and cost-effective for farmers: placement of phosphorus directly into the hole with seed, using simple and affordable technologies such as Coca Cola bottle caps, was found to be more efficient than broadcasting the fertilizer. However, phosphorus management practices need to be continuously improved and evaluated. Given the importance of phosphorus for crop yields in Somalia, there is an urgent need for more research on its application and effect.

This piece is taken from the website of the Somali Agricultural Technical Group (SATG).

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Somali Agricultural Technical Group (SATG) – Post-harvest and Grain Storage Losses

April 14, 2011

Agricultural production in Somalia suffers greatly from post-harvest and storage grain losses: average grain losses in Southern Somalia are estimated at 20 to 30% of the total harvest, and may exceed this figure in some cases. This loss is on the order of 50,000 to 80,000 tonnes per year, which translates to an economic loss of between US $15 million and $20 million. In addition to the economic loss, poor grain storage and handling practices can constitute a health risk, as improperly stored grain is vulnerable to moulds containing Aflatoxins, highly poisonous chemical compounds. These are losses and risks which the poverty-stricken agricultural communities of Southern Somalia cannot sustain.

Sorghum, a staple food crop in Somalia, is badly affected by grain losses of this kind. Sorghum growing farmers traditionally store grain retained for future consumption or trade in simple underground storage pits. Pests, rodents and other micro-organisms attack the grains in storage leading to depletion and deterioration in the grain quantity and quality. Moisture penetrates into the storage pits, resulting in fungus growth and Aflatoxin contamination. The resultant losses contribute to food shortages, and the Aflatoxin contamination represents a potentially fatal health risk.

In order to ascertain the exact causes of the losses, SATG conducted a baseline survey in the Bay Region to study the two grain loss high-risk areas: post-harvest handling practices and traditional storage systems. The survey reveals that grain losses associated with the traditional storage systems (underground pits) are significantly higher than those associated with post-harvest techniques (harvesting, transportation, and drying), at an estimated 40% and 20% respectively.

SATG has generated several solutions for the grain loss problems affecting Somali agriculture.

Rehabilitation of the old system: SATG has trained local farmers in fortifying the inner walls and floors of the traditional pit with cement, and using plastic lining to prevent moisture damage.

Introduction of a new system: SATG has adapted the design of a locally popular metal water-storage tank to create a metal grain silo which can easily be manufactured within the target communities.

Post-harvest and grain storage loss reduction is the target of an on-going project being implemented by SATG in collaboration with FAO.

This piece is taken from the website of the Somali Agricultural Technical Group (SATG).

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Somali Agricultural Technical Group (SATG) – Filsan Mungbean

April 14, 2011

Filsan is a superior variety of mungbean which is characterized by high yield potential, larger seed size, early maturity, and better cooking qualities compared to local varieties. It was originally introduced and tested at the Bonkaay Dry Land Agriculture Research Station, but after the collapse of the government in 1991 and the attendant collapse of those national institutions providing agricultural services, the plans for the introduction of Filsan at scale level were shelved. Filsan seed became mixed with local varieties and planting of the pure variety was no longer possible.

In 2002, SATG became involved in identifying the Filsan seed pedigree and tracing it back to its origins. SATG obtained a small amount of Filsan breeder’s seed from AVRDC (Asian Vegetable Research and Development Centre) in Taiwan and began multiplying it at an experimental station in Minnesota, USA. Further multiplication took place in Kenya in 2004 with the support of ICRISAT. Finally, in 2005, SATG was able to repatriate 110kg of Filsan seed to Somalia for further increase and distribution.

SATG continues to test and promote Filsan mungbean in Somalia, including recently as part of its work on preserving plant genetic resources which is being carried out in partnership with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

This piece is taken from the website of the Somali Agricultural Technical Group (SATG).

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Somali Agricultural Technical Group (SATG) – About Us

April 14, 2011

SATG is a registered non-profit association of Somali professionals and friends of the country dedicated to assisting in the reconstruction of Somalia and its agricultural heritage. SATG was established to provide sustainable home-grown solutions to alleviate the rampant food shortages caused by conflict and the lack of agriculture and food policy.

SATG draws upon a mix of both practical and scientific expertise that trickles down to the grassroots. All work and studies undertaken by SATG have real world practical applications. These studies are conducted in key target areas working in co-operation with partners and local farmers.

Agriculture including livestock is the backbone of the Somali economy. Pre-war figures indicate that 67% of the country’s GDP came from livestock, agriculture and fisheries. SATG envisions a huge opportunity whereby agriculture will not only play a crucial role in reconciliation and rebuilding in Somalia but be a key component in the rejuvenated Somali economy. This will go a long way towards solving both social and economic problems.

Visit the resources page to download SATG’s promotional booklet, which summarizes SATG’s work and aims.


To strive for peace and prosperity through sustainable agricultural development.


Safeguard the institutional memory of Somali agriculture, particularly in times of statelessness or civil strive.

Assist agriculture communities to access appropriate and affordable agricultural technology.

Education and Research:
Assist in re-establishing and sustaining agricultural education and research centers

Cooperate with international, national, regional, and local communities in the sustainable development of Somali agriculture, and conservation of the natural resource base.

This piece is taken from the website of the Somali Agricultural Technical Group (SATG).

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Somali Environment Protection Alliance Network (SEPAN) – About

April 7, 2011

The mission of SEPAN is to advocate, and preserve the few  Trees left in the Horn of Africa, particularly in all inhabited Somali Ethnic populations. To teach others how to sustain the earth’s natural resources, and protect the environment.  To confront illegal loggers and the countries, such Saudi Arabia and United Arab  Emirates that import Somali Charcoal for local consumption.

This piece is taken from the website of the Somali Environment Protection Alliance Network (SEPAN).

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Somali Environmental Protection and Anti-Desertification Organization (SEPADO) – Objectives and activities of SEPADO

April 7, 2011

  1. Develop institution based on the community leadership that studies and finds means to combat desertification in Somalia.
  2. Conduct Ecological research expedition in Somalia (Specially area that are severely effected).
  3. Create tree plantation nurseries and implement re-forestation programs (Specially effected areas)
  4. Provide occupational skills training to enable villagers to become self-supporting and give up forest burning for living.
  5. Agricultural schemes to assist farmers to plant trees, provide health seeds, farming equipment and general training.
  6. Organise and manage, already existing elements of the society that possess good level perception of environment issues.
  7. Increase level of environmental understanding among the people.
  8. Organise periodical workshops for all the effected Regions and if possible invite international NGOs for assessing the damages done to Somalia’s environment.

This piece is taken from the website of the Somali Environmental Protection and Anti-Desertification Organization (SEPADO).

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