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26 November 2015

The first day of the conference.

Karibu – hello in Swahili.

My ordeal is over, everything was worth-while, had a great first day.
Hotel room is good, comfortable bed, hot water, good food. Kisumu is a fish area it is right on the shore of Victoria lake, so I am having fish everyday
The day started off with an explanation and apology about the misunderstand that occurred yesterday, I appreciated it and accepted it and we moved on.

I had a fantastic day today. The conference was very fruitful. A real interaction between cultures. The people are from, obviously from Bondo , but also from other universities in Kenya, from Congo DRC, Uganda, Netherlands and me (from Israel). It is very small so we have a lot of opportunity for real discussion, and real brainstorming.
The conference is about technological transfer and cultural interface. This is a very interesting subject which raises many questions. The main question which we are trying to answer is how can Africa take from the west technology which is appropriate for her and combine it with its own set of values. Or must technological adoption come with an adoption of the values of where it was designed or innovated. Big question. We will see where this takes us.
We are talking about the contributions Africa can make to the world. We discussed the openness of Africa to things that we do not accept in the west, there is no one or right answer for issues, there is more than two beings, of male and female, I am told that there are 12 in the bantu culture. And many other issues are being discussed. Religion is viewed very differently than it is viewed in many western cultures, there is more room for openness and less dogma. We are going very deep here……(loving it), I even learnt something about Jewishness, from our host. That in the Jewish faith it is a way of life, not dogma or just a faith, as well as it looks to the future. Obviously we in Israel feel very differently about this statement, we feel that there is much coercion in religion, but then I thought about ashkenazi and sphardic, thinking that we always say that if we can adopt the sphardic way, in which Jewish meant culture and a way of life it would be all different and less over bearing. And that the dichotomy of being religious or secular actually came from Europe, and put us in a spot where we must choose, it was a total non-issue in the northern African countries or the sphardic culture, where it was just a way of life, the secular/non secular issue has only been adopted recently by them as well, from the ashkenazi. Very interesting stuff.
So much more to talk about, but it might get too boring so I will stop.  
Two very nice Kenyan traditions: what we call a coffee break is called here a Health break, I thought this is a marvelous terminology, first time I heard it. And for their tea they have Milk water, which is actually milk diluted with water, great innovation. there are also diffrent kinds of ways of showing apprecition and clapping, really nice, difficult to discribe. loving this.

On our health break we got tea with milk water, a kind of sweet doughnut, and yams…..

Will continue to report tomorrow

Bondo here I come.

Back in Africa. This time in Kenya, I am going to my first academic conference and I am very excited. We will be hosted by the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, in Bondo, which is about an hour and a half from Kisumu the third largest city in Kenya.  I am looking forward to talking to people about the same issues that concern me, project sustainability , technology transfer and more.
It is 8:15 in the morning, 11 hours have passed, since I started my trip (20:40 in Israel), I arrived in Nairobi, A bustling airport, people from all the corners of the world, all shapes and color, in the airport, American country music is playing in the background (s t r a n g e), I have a five hour wait here until I can take the flight to Kisumu, thank God for laptops and cell phones, I have a lot of work today and they have electricity charging points. Reading tension of Empire of F. Cooper and A. Stoler, an assignment we got, in class.

Malarone pills - apparently the kisumu area is a Malaris zone

Frustration kicked in and it is now 16:30, It has been 2 hours after I landed in Kisumu, I am so tiered – 18 hours have passed, from my departure from Israel. I expected the bus to be there at 14:30 and by now to be already in the hotel. But that is not going to happen. apparently he has to pick up some people at around 17:00, now he tells me they will come at 17:40, and since I have already waited so long, why not wait some more. The airport is quiet small so everyone already knew me. Everyone is trying to help, the poor stranded tourist, offering me their cell phone, their support, suggestions and such. The security guard came up and said "why do they behave like Africans" I was actually shocked to hear it from him and gave a slight smile, not knowing what to answer and continued to keep calm. Now I am told that the Pope (everyone is very excited) has landed in Nairobi so all flight are delayed, they are supposed to arrive at 18:00, they did not, at 19:00 we decided to leave just me and the driver. FUN.

Kisumu from the plane

What was going in my mind: I can't stand it any-more, it's too hot I need a shower, a bed and I am starting to get hungry, my last meal was at 10:00 in the morning; I decided to play it "African", waiting, not getting annoyed, this is the African experience, many Africans wait for hours, see it from their  point of view, you are not in a hurry anyway, so what if you are tired;  In Israel this would never happen, such a waste of time and money, waiting is not an option and so much more; We learnt last week the location of your research is a very important component in your well-being, people that have archives in the French Riviera are very lucky, people that have 4-5 hour extensions of waiting in remote parts of Africa, probably less; Am I an adventurer or just waiting, is this the African experience or just a fluke; What does this say about me. Finally,  I decided to stretch my legs and tried to have a short sleep. In the background somewhere from the airport was a monotonous African drum tune playing. It was very soothing and very beautiful. I fell into a slumber, I think I even heard myself snore a little.

the univesity bus
Eventually I arrived at the hotel, at 20:30, this is exactly 25 hours after leaving Israel. (1 hour time difference between Israel and Kenya), Had a quick dinner and went into a deep sleep.
Was this a true Africa experience or just a whole waste of time, I am not sure but it was definitely something worth to write home about.

That’s it for now, tell you all about my travels tomorrow. 

08 November 2015

It's been a while

It's been a while since I wrote last actually a little bit over two years. In this period I had some ups and downs in this subject (sustainability of water projects in rural sub-Saharan Africa – "SSA") I am writing about and how I deal with it. The down was that waterways was not picking up as much as I would have liked it to and although the many contacts we have made we were not able to bring it up to the recognition level we had intended, maybe we are premature, maybe we did not market it well I am not sure, but I came up with two conclusions: first, There is definitely an interest here and need, everyone we talked to felt that something needs to be done and that sustainability or rather lack of sustainability in  water projects is a big problem and second, I need to learn more on the subject and develop an expertise in it. And here comes the upside from 2014 I started to write a Ph.D. dissertation on the subject, in Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Since then I learning everyday a new thing and enjoying every minute of it.

The start of my research was to understand as much as I can about the history of Africa, now many of you might say, Africa is so diverse and there are 54 countries, how can you still talk about "Africa" in this day and age. I totally agree, it is wrong to do so, but curiously enough, from my work in the last 5 years and my visits to several African countries and my talks with different professionals from different countries, it seems at least in the beginning of my research that the problems are very similar. So I will proceed to talk about the African continent, but obviously my examples and case studies will be of particular areas and project themes.

Going back to history, there is no doubt that historical developments have played a very significant role in the lead up to the present-day severe water situation in rural "SSA". And if so, I chose Colonialism as the era of interest due to two issues: the first colonialism although only a short period of time, around 80 years was probably the most transforming period of Africa and its people, the second, is that it seems that up to colonial times and in the colonial period, there was not a big issue with water. Water started to become an issue and major challenge of Africa, after colonialism and currently. It is therefore important to find out what happened in that period that had impact on this change.  

So this is where I am at back to school.....and what I have been doing. This new section of the blog will document my research, writing process, insights and voyages I take to better understand the phenomena of non-sustainable water projects in rural SSA.

07 December 2013

Stranded in Cameroon

This one is for the books.

We arrived at 22:30 at Yaounde airport in the common belief that we are taking the Turkish Airways flight to Istanbul and back to Tel-Aviv at 12:40, Thursday.

But as you are starting to get it, it is 12:40 Thursday and we are still in Yaounde.
At the gate we see a strange sign at the side of our eye, flight cancelled, apparently Yaoundé airport has suffered a blackout in the runway and flights could not land or fly.

So we were told you have two options, take the flight on Friday or take the bus to Douala and join the flight there which is waiting for you. Optimistic as we are and really homesick we immediately chose to take the bus to Douala, calculating that if all goes well we will not miss our flight to Tel-Aviv and all will be well, just a bit of inconvenience of a 3-4 hour drive in the middle of the night in the roads of Cameroon, but we can take it and the bus is really good. One hour later, all the passengers are on, all seats are full, the luggage somehow was pushed in, quite surprisingly, all excited we are waiting on the bus and waiting and we suddenly got at midnight the excellent news that the plane has landed in Yaounde and we would fly as scheduled.

Again very optimistic we take our bags off the bus, got in the line to check in, fought with the check in about overweight, seats and more, immigration and arrived at 12:45 to the gate with most of the passengers. 12:55 was supposed to be the flight time, we assumed an hour delay, we were told no worries, flight to Israel will wait for you and the time is already 2:00.

The rumors are starting, the pilot did an emergency landing he has no authorization to take off, the airport is closed, then we thought OK we will fly at 06:00 in the morning, by 3:00 we are told, we do not know when you will fly, for now we will take you to a hotel, but no available hotels, at 4:30 we arrive at the clementine hotel, good area, nice park view , but 2 star hotel, we and the two other Israelis we met on the flight, already comrades to distress, look at each other in disbelief, at least the sheets were clean.

Slept a wink, 09:00 Avi myself, and the two other Israelis had a decent breakfast and were wondering what next steps we will take? Not having heard from the airline, we agreed that we would "march" to the local station of Turkish to see what is going on. And then as if everything was under control, we were told by another stranded partner a mother with 3 children and 12 luggage pieces, (how she kept here calm, I do not know, we helped a little, great kids) said I just got a call to tell us to take a cab to the airport.
11:30 we were the first to arrive, no one from Turkish, the check-in is closed.

Hopefully this is the end of the saga, the Turkish guy came told us check in will be at 13:00 and we will fly at 16:00. Wish us good look, I am sleep deprived, but energies are good Avi and I are making the best of it. And we were notified our project moved an additional step in the prime minister's office, but this is another story. 

the bus which was supposed to drive to douala

no room in the bus, just before we are told that we will fly from Yaounde, were laughing like crazy

the sign that we have a flight after 15 hours delay

30 November 2013

My New Name AMA Avidar

Shabbat shalom everyone,

Leaving Ghana tomorrow, but before I leave I must write you.
Avi, Freimpong (Patrick's friend, Patrick is our wonderful business partner in Ghana) and myself are celebrating Shabbat with a beer ( club beer – similar to light Belgien beer which I really like) at the poolside of the Erata Hotel in Accra (marvelous wifi- my obsession in Africa), listening to a live band singing Bob Marley – "I want to love you"

So where were we in the last 2 days, or where were we not….. we traveled from Accra to Tarkwa, to Kumasi (the largest city in Ghana) to Bogoso and then Briem North (rural area) and back to Accra. Except for one flight we drove most of the way, or rather Patrick our partner was kind enough to drive, around 4-5 hours from each destination to the next, it was quite a hard trip, with terrible roads.
Patrick a Ghanaian business man from the Ashanti area, that made it on his own, by identifying a need and finding the solutions for it. Good on you Patrick!!!!

We met and visited several mining companies and the funny thing is that right before each mine compound the road is awful, due to political issues of who is in charge of the road and who should construct it and in the end, no one does and we get to feel the experience in our aching bones. But for all purposes the way was worth it, we had some good meetings, got to understand the challenges of the mining areas and the villages surrounding them. We also met honoranble Paul the head of the district, who shared with us some of the challenges he faces and once again we trully hope we can bring some greta solutions to the area and change a challenge into a solution.

Our intention is to bring some good rural development platforms (our VIC model- the village income center, which we have developed in Nkuv, if you remember from April) .

So what about the name, Ama means born on Saturday, in Ghana people get the name of the day they were born in, there are 7 names for men and 7 for women, I was born on Saturday, therefore AMA Avidar. By the way, Kofi (Anan) is a Friday born.

Write you soon, tomorrow flying to Cameroon - for the last leg of the race.....

 the poolside band
 eating cocanut
 eating again at mining compay, looks like a kibbutz dinning room
 the hotel room at Tarkwa, - longji hotel, the new chinese hotel, beautiful rooms, good service decent price and everything imported from China
 some beaitiful scienery on the road
 Patrick, and Kofi a leading reporter in Ghana
the artisine miners, mining without a license and no regulatroy control, they threw mud at us for taking their picture

25 November 2013

WSA staff meeting

Around 100 staff members of WSA out of 344 convened on Sunday the 24th November to discuss: organization communication strategy; WSA soft power and what this entails; conclusions from the HLF and how to do it better next year; how to take forward the accomplishments of the 2013 HLF and innovative financing – the key to successfully bringing water for all.

First of all it was a great pleasure and honor for me to be included within these activities, thus being part of the WSA's way forward.

Second it was declared that Israel will be the special guest of the HLF 2014 in Cameroon, once again this is a great honor, a great responsibility and a tremendous opportunity for Israeli companies.

This is the first call for Israeli water, sanitation and housing companies to attend the forum in November 2014. If we signed 6 LOIs this year I wonder how many will be signed next……

the beautiful view from my room

the ladies of WSA 

Just a few sentences about innovative financing, as financing is one of the main challenges for water projects in Africa, it is imperative that WSA find those alternative and innovative products and schemes. The thing is, that it is within ourselves, once we define why water projects are especially vulnerable and are not allocated funds, this is where we can define the solutions, because there is no one challenge which cannot be solved. For instance if one challenge that water is considered god given and should be free – you can understand that we should not charge for water but rather for supply, or better services or, avoidance of health issues and much more. This is just one out of 14 which we have voiced. 

The High Level Forum for Water in Africa, - HLF - Abidjan Nov 2013

My dear friends,

The forum started on the 21st and I could not find a moment to write until this moment, it is 21:00 Sunday night the 24th.

2000 participated in the activities. On the agenda, ministers council meeting, a conference, exhibition and B2G meetings. Check out the website
International companies came from India, China, Germany, turkey and Israel.

It has only been 1 month from the WATECH conference where Waterways was appointed as Israel country representative of WSA – and the 21st office of WSA.
And within this short period we have been able to bring 5 companies to the HLF and facilitate the signing of 6 LOIs with Senegal, Benin, Liberia, Ivory Coast, and 3 expected next month.

The idea is creating solid PPP WASH (Water, sanitation and Hygiene) projects in Africa via, a win-win mediation mechanisms, in which WSA assists the private companies to manage cooperation with African governments. The work has begun with these 6 LOIs and now our job is to make them happen for the betterment of the African people.

theconference hall from the outside
from the inside, Tahal delegation members, Lior frumkes and Max Barel

the diffrent chieftens, in their Marvelous and colorful custumes.
after signing the LOI with the water minister of Senegal

Group picture!!!