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Up coming conference summarizing  Women, Environment, and the Protection of Natural Resources in Central Highlands project sponsored by the Embassy of Finland.

COAM Sustainable Tech. Conference

Today the first ever prefab Bio-gas units arrived in Bamyan! Bio-gas units convert livestock dung in to gas for cooking. BORDA (the Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association) supplied COAM with a unit for demonsatration in the Bamyan Environment Center. This is the beginning of an exciting new partnership aiming to increase awareness in the benefits of biogas throughout Bamyan.

BIOGAS unit for COAM

BIOGAS2 unit for COAM

After many months of developing and changing the curriculum, the final draft of the Beekeeping Training Programme- Basic level is published. The BEES team wanted this programme to be a fun learning experience while also teaching the complexities of beekeeping to a high standard.

We had to think differently, most of these women are illiterate and have either never been to school or only until they were 10 years old. The usual lecture style of teaching would simply not work. We tried to make it fun for the women and as interactive and participatory as possible.

Ms. Hadia – Curriculum developer and beekeeping trainer.

The team spent weeks thinking of visual ways to convey the different beekeeping topics. The programme includes interactive worksheets and the participants will create their own beekeeping manual from pictures and symbols, this will then be used as a reference after the course. There is a real incentive to pass the programme assessment, those who pass will be provided with a complete tool box for setting up their own beekeeping business.

Beekeeping

COAM’s new team member Lawrence Gray in action: providing a lecture on community based forestry to more than 50 students in the new library of Bamyan University to celebrate ‘Earth Day’._MG_0059 _MG_0078 _MG_0128

COAM’s graphic designer volunteer, Evelyn Kitt, has produced a wonderful logo for the Bamyan Beekeeping Associations in Yawkalang and the Bamyan Center. Evelyn was supported through ideas and feedback by six ladies that will be managing the Association in the two locations. We are very proud of the final result!

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The 13th of March was another landmark date for COAM. Unanimously, it was accepted for membership with the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief and Development (ACBAR). The General Assembly meeting held in Kabul, and attended by 75 national and international NGOs, outlined 6 new members, among which was COAM.

An intense process with numerous questions and challenges, the membership approval was by 100% positive.

We would like to thank all our continuous supporters- the Mr. Ari Mäki, the Ambassador of Finland to Afghanistan; GERES and WCS, in particular Maude Piegay and Richard Paley.

View more on the ACBAR web page:

http://www.acbar.org/news/32/ACBAR-General-Assembly-Thursday-13th,-March-2014-,-Conference-Room,-Kabul.html

 

This week COAM met with the Director of Seasons Honey company, one of the biggest honey producing companies in Afghanistan.

Mr. Manzoor Ahmad learnt beekeeping from his father and grandfather and then seven years ago, combined this knowledge with his business experience and built the Seasons Honey Company- www.seasonpurehoney.com.  Seasons currently produces over 90,000 kg of honey per year from over 35,000 hives in eight  provinces in Afghanistan.

“There is not enough honey to meet the market demand in Afghanistan”

Manzoor Ahmad

Manzoor has plans to expand his production factory and develop new honey based products.

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Oxford Microfinance Initiative is a student-run consultancy providing a link between microfinance institutions and the Oxford student population. As part of a small team working for COAM, we have been involved in conducting research and developing a marketing strategy over the past four months. This has been an incredibly interesting experience thus far, offering a real insight into the various aspects of the beekeeping programme launched by COAM and the different challenges it faces as a newly established project and indeed as a relatively new organisation, set up less than four years ago.

 

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Our initial sessions were spent learning more about the work of COAM’s Bamyan office in community-based conservation, natural resource management and sustainable livelihood development so that our later work would be sensitive to the organisation’s vision and to the ground realities in Afghanistan. We developed a mission statement as a team to ensure that we all had shared goals and we have now constructed an information base report. This research has looked at a range of areas, including an exploration of domestic bee production, both national and international market access, packaging and value added products, and an examination of the potential constraints to marketing and sales. We are now currently working on the development of a solid and reliable marketing strategy which will enable the beekeeping participants to maximise their profits in light of sustainable and growing marketing opportunities. The framework employed has been adapted from private sector firms and we are confident that these will be helpful in a development context. We will be looking at both short-term and long-term potential strategies. It has been particularly rewarding to collaborate with COAM on this project and we are hopeful that the partnership will be mutually beneficial.

 

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COAM has been generously supported by the Linda Norgrove Foundation for two years and we are very grateful to their ongoing support and encouragement.

The Linda Norgrove Foundation is a grant-giving trust that funds education, health and childcare for women and children affected by the war in Afghanistan.

The Trust was set up in memory of, Scottish aid worker, Linda Norgrove who was devoted to ensuring that the people of Afghanistan would achieve prosperity and stability as their country was rebuilt. She was completely committed to her development work and she loved Afghanistan and its people. Linda was kidnapped and subsequently died during a failed rescue attempt in Afghanistan in October 2010.

www.lindanorgrovefoundation.org

This week the foundation published their beautiful newsletter in which COAM’s Women and Natural Resources project featured on page 10.

To read the newsletter please click here.

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Yesterday, COAM team accompanied by the Programme Manager of BORDA NGO visited the home of Mr. Sha Mohammed, the bio-gas inventor of Lala – Khil village in the Koh-e-Baba mountains, Bamyan.

Mr. Sha Mohammed is a unique and inspiring man. He heard about biogas technology from a friend in Kundus and made it his mission to bring it to Bamyan covering all costs and expenses himself.

Mr. Sha Mohammed and his biogas unit.

Mr. Sha Mohammed and his biogas unit.

People in the community thought I was a mad man, but now they are all coming and want to learn how to build something like this.

-Mr. Sha Mohammed

Bio gas cooker

Biogas is produced through the breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen, which is referred to as anaerobic digestion. Biogas provides a non-polluting and renewable source of energy, it saves fuels consumption, it reduces the time it takes for women and children spend collecting fuel for cooking and it produces a by-product of rich organic fertiliser.

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“I want everyone in Bamyan to have access to this technology, it is good for the women and the children and is really sustainable for the future”

-Mr. Sha Mohammed.

BORDA advises and facilitates projects in the sectors of decentralised sanitation, wastewater treatment, water and energy supply, and solid waste disposal in Asia and Africa and has over 30 years of experience and is part of a network of international research and development organisations (http://www.borda-afg.org). COAM Design Team is now in discussions about what we can do to help promote this valuable technology in the Central Highlands of Afghanistan.