29 May 2006

The Storm Report

With May comes the rainy season; the busiest time for farmers, and therefore the busiest time for Ghana, since agriculture makes up a large portion of the economy. We arrived in Accra just a few weeks ago in a hazy humid mess. The rains started almost immediately, turning the brown terrain into a lush green landscape. As we travelled north, the same could be said for Tamale, and we watched as the rains transformed the savannah and brought them to life.

In Damongo, rains have threatened us for a few days. Large, perilous storms which seem certain to hit veer away from us at the last minute. There is a system to these storms that anyone can use to detect their occurrence minutes before they start (besides from looking at the clouds, of course):

The relatively calm Ghanaian air whips into a whirlwind of activitity, picking up with it the deep red sands and the occassional black plastic takeaway bag. These slight winds draw ever stronger, blinding you and pelting sand at your eyes at nearly 80kmh. The sand and wind is followed by an immediate darkness, as the monstrous cumulus clouds move overhead, bringing with them a dark that sets in faster than after an African sunset.

Finally, when the Gods deem Damongo worthy of a rinse, the sky bears fruit to the crops below. The rain, although light at first, pelts at my tin roof with a resounding thud. As the intensity picks up, I notice a hole which lets in the occassional drop.

The children run to gather bins, buckets, pots, and bowls to collect the rainwater. This incoming storm is good news, because if it rains well, we will not have to fetch water for three to four days.

Adisa runs and collects the large metal bowls that she uses to collect water every morning. We give them a quick rinse and run them along the perimetre of the courtyard, allowing the rainwater to fall and collect from the roof of the house. The high-pitched pings of the rain hitting the bowls stands out to the barotone thuds of the grape sized rain drops pounding the corrugated roof panels. We watch as they fill up within seconds, and are careful as we pour them into the awaiting drums which fill slowly as the rain continues. For an hour we sit, wait, and occassially get up to empty another bowl into the drums. Each bowl that fills with rainwater saves one of the women the hike to the borehole.

Only here could so much anticipation come in the first rains. For Ghanaians, the rains mean food security, hydration, and substinence. It is with this anticipation that you realize just how connected to the climate we are in Ghana.

The next time it rains in Canada, I will be sure to think about how much I have invested in the rainfall, and I will be sure to evaluate the amount I rely on the climate for my livelihood. The obvious answer is not much. But what is the right answer?


Anonymous AsHLeY.r. said...

Hey Kyle!

Wowzers this all sounds phenomenal!! I've been doing some brainstorming about boosting awareness for the work you're doing in Ghana here in Windsor. What do you think about approaching the Windsor Star and/or The Scoop to publish a column by you on some sort of regular basis? Maybe 1 or 2X a month? Perhaps EWB National Office has already set up media partnerships? If not -- I think this could really work well to get people in our community more in tune with EWB, development projects, and Wonderful Ghana.

I know you're busy, so I could approach the newsguys and develop your columns from your blog entries. Or if you want/have time you could write them especially for publication here in Windsor.
The writing you've been doing on your blog is awesome -- really engaging. I think that style would be fabulous!

Let me know what you think --
Email if you have a chance (araeside@hotmail.com).

Take care!

29 May, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think there is a right answer to dependancy on climate. I want to think we should rely on the earth because it is natural, but we need some sort of sustainable technology (wink wink) for when we aren't able to rely on nature. But we don't want to destroy nature because of our dependency. Here in North America we have enough. And they do not have enough somewhere else in other countries, much like the place where you are now Kyle. It is up to us to make sure they have the means to have enough, but without compromising nature in the process. I want to say that in the perfect world nature would give us enough, and I think she could have if we weren't destroying her natural resources.

31 May, 2006  
Anonymous Dennis & Celine Borges said...

Fantastic! best describes the work you are doing. It will influence and benefit you and the people whose lives you touch.

Keep up the good work!

14 June, 2006  

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