(This blog is from the Summer of 2016.)
The nut sheller finally had some success after a long time working on it. My host mother, Belleagi, helped me boil the baobab nuts, and when they were tossed in the machine while still hot, the machine could actually shell some of them. About ten percent of the nuts fed into the machine shelled perfectly, the rest fell straight through the machine. The issue there being that the rotor isn’t perfectly circular. If that’s fixed, I really do think that the nut sheller could work really well. That work can’t be finished in the remaining time, but either I or the engineer for next year should be able to finish the work, be it at Duke or in Togo.
Most of the other projects I worked on were finished as of the last blog post except for the latrine spirulina facility. This latrine set up was built in the 80s by a Swiss engineer, and over the past few years, various Duke Engage engineers have made it their primary project. It’s never been fully operational, and this past year, an important component of the machine broke, bringing the project to a halt. Compounding that problem, Eli, the director of the project and half of the projects in Farende, died. And with his death, there was no one nearly as qualified or passionate to keep the project moving. So with all this in mind, Charlie, Fidele, and I attended a meeting with the church committee that directs the latrines project. I gave my assessment of the work the church needs to do to restore the system to operation and Fidele gave them an intriguing suggestion of forming a public private partnership. Her thought would be that the church retains the rights to the land and the project, but they contract out the managing of the project to a company or entrepreneur. That entity would cover the repairs and management costs while paying the church an agreed upon sum for the right to use the project. The committee listened intently to both suggestions and will take them to higher ups in the organization for a final decision. Like the projects I wrote about in my last post, this won’t be finished during my stay in Togo, but hopefully the suggestions are taken to heart and the spirulina facility will be up and running with minimal intervention from Duke Engage.