Friday, March 30, 2007

Update (Long overdue...)

I must apologize for not updating sooner.  I do keep fairly up to date on the audio blog though.  Right now I am working at ICRISAT, the International Crop Research Institue for the Semi-Arid Tropics.  They do research on how to improve crops, introduce new foods, regenerate land, etc.  They try all sorts of crazy ideas, and most of them flop, but every once in a while something comes up that can really make a difference.  I'm working with the sahelian eco-farm project.  It uses a nitrogen fixing tree to improve the nutrients available in the soil and can drastically improve millet yields.  I am also working with a millet breeding program that is trying to select varieties that are more appropriate for the growing season here and will produce more food.  For the time being, I am living in the hostel in Niamey and commuting to work on the daily bus.  It's working out okay, but is only temporary until either ICRISAT builds another house, or until I get a different job in Niamey.
The hostel is coming along nicely, we've rearranged a few things, made some improvements, and things are going well.  For the most part, everything has been well recieved, now we're working on a decision making process that will turn it into more of a democratic system than a dictatorship.  (not that I mind being the dictator, lol)  The biggest problem is that it is the "national" hostel, so volunteers from other regions forget that it is the Tillaberi volunteers primary hostel and get into the "community property" mindset.  They start to think that it's noone's, therefore everyone's, and they can do whatever they want to trash it.  We're slowly chipping away at that idea.  Hopefully the establishment of a regional representative for Tillaberi (just like all the other regions have) will help legitimize us as a region in our own right, and people will start respecting us and our hostel.  That is the job I'm applying for.  I would basically coordinate support for 25 or so volunteers in the region around Niamey.  I hope to keep the millet breeding program as my primary project, and I would get a house here in Niamey.  I'll know about that in about 3 weeks.
In other news, we had planned a trip to Agadez, but that got cancelled when the rebels started killing folk again.  I'm hoping to go to Benin with Seabass, Alison, and Rachel at the end of May.  That's really the only vacation I've got planned so far.  We do however have elaborate COS plans to spend a month in Europe, then cruise home on the QE2.  I hope that all pans out, it's a prime motivation for staying here! 
I guess that's all i've got for now, I'll try to keep up with this, but the podcast will probably be updated much more often.  Ta ta for now!