We are very honoured and happy to publish this blog post from Gabriel Ojobo, Country Manager at SF Green Resources Nig. Ltd., our partner for our next mission in Nigeria.
"Taking a ride from Jos, the capital of Plateau State in Nigeria to Jebbu Bassa is just a fifteen minute drive and from Jebbu Bassa to Zagun and Binchi communities of Bassa Local Government Area is twenty minutes.
What is interesting here is that Jebbu Bassa doubles as the host community for the 3rd Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army and headquarters of Bassa Local Government Area. Compare Jebbu Bassa and Binchi communities which are just 10 km apart and you will see a vast difference. For example, Jebbu Bassa is connected to the electricity grid and they enjoy a reasonable amount of electricity while Binchi community, though connected to electricity grid, rarely has electricity.
More so, Jebbu Bassa has a well connected road network from Jos but from Jebbu Bassa to Binchi, a tarred road has been a dream for many generations as expressed bitterly by the locals. For me, this is the least of the problems confronting this isolated community. What really got me dumbfounded and stunned is the untold daily suffering of the farmers and women caused by lack of irrigation water in their surroundings.
I discovered that the Binchi farmers have to travel long distances to fetch and carry water gallons on their heads at night on a regular basis. The most bizarre part of this story is that these farmers have to leave home after supper to go to dry streams and dig deep to access water which they use to irrigate their farms. It is so difficult to comprehend this situation if one is not on the field to witness it. Farming is the only occupation and means of survival for the people of these communities and they have successfully passed this profession from generations past to the present one.
I heard stories of how farmers plant around February with the hope that the raining season will help to irrigate their farms but only to end up disappointed and suffer investment losses due to irregular rainfall that has been the order for some years now globally. This can be linked directly to the negative impact of climate change which the Binchi farmers do not even know exists due to illiteracy and lack of information on how to cope. And when you talk about inputs, the sorrow of these farmers is just unimaginable! Access to important quality inputs like fertilizer, pesticides, seeds etc. is virtually difficult. In the words of Reverend Seth Amadik, a passionate native of Binchi community who took us to this place, ¨I was born here but presently working for the church in Jos. My people have continued to languish in these hardships since before I was born several decades ago and yet no changes till this day¨ he said with a sour expression on his face.
Another touching aspect of this story is the domestic energy challenge facing the communities even though it is a common problem in Nigeria as a whole. Women regularly criss-cross the length and breadth of surrounding bushes, mountains by foot, sometimes as far as 5 to 7 kilometers just to fetch firewood for cooking warm food. Valuable and productive time is being wasted on sourcing firewood and water needed for basic chores with very little or none available for any money earning activities. Their health suffers from long time inhalation and accumulating effects of staying in smoky conditions while cooking.
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The tale of these communities is thought-provoking and needs urgent redress with a solution like GoSol solar technology. GoSol brings an instant solution to the vicious energy poverty that has bedeviled communities like Binchi for decades and handicapped their progress towards better livelihood. Nigeria generates around 6,000MW of electricity presently leaving a shortfall of about 194,000MW needed for sufficiency. Fossil fuels like kerosene, cooking gas and epileptic electricity remain scarce and expensive to use, putting deforestation pressure on our already destroyed environment. The alternative is clean energy that is safe, cheap, mobile, environmental friendly and efficient. GoSol solar technology combines all these attributes and also empowers entrepreneurs, rural farmers to independently secure the energy they need for their activities.
Finally, I wrote this story to invoke a conscious re-awakening in the way we see our neighbors and environment. My wish is that we will have it somewhere in our heart to do something about this situation which I know is common all over Nigeria and beyond."