Sunday, April 25, 2010

Government Apathy

In my work in Azerbaijan one of the most frustrating parts is government apathy. I am working with a livestock project where we are working with feed companies to help them more effectively sell to poorer farmers who can't access thier products as easily (just driving to a feed shop to by a few hundred kh of feed is no easy task consideirng that many farmers don't even have cars). Anyway, one of the mandates of our donor is working with government trying to get them interested and helping etc. The problem with my project (in the government's opinion) is that we don't give out things, lots of development projects give out "Freebies" but one of the guiding principales of my type of project (M4P) is no free stuff so the government just doesn't care, especially since there is comparatively little money in livestock here.

From what I have heard it is not only a problem here but all around the south caucuses. My project's "sister project" in Armenia is working with the dairy sector. One of the major constraints there is the accessibility of the communities for milk companies. On the one hand the companies only occasionally help in setting up collection stations for milk collection and the government almost never assists (how many voters in a small village?). My organization's regional office is in Georgia (next door) and I am constantly hearing about how little attention the government gives to livestock (the particular issue is giving out vaccinations, they say they will vaccinate all cattle in the country against foot and mouth and a few other things but in reality they vaccinate a few thousand [in a country with hundreds of thousands of cattle] then pat themselves on the back). In the end, I guess there as here there isn't enough money to provide incentive enough to give any meaningful support/investment.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Got Cha'!!!!!!

Ok, so for weeks now there has been at least one uninvited visitor in my house (aka mouse) who has been eating my food, pooping in my shoes (on my desk, around my kitchen, etc) and has been generally annoying. I asked my staff to get the critter and the first thing tried was a humane (though seriously doubt the intention was to be humane) trap that i found totally does not work with small mice (later i found that if i balance the trap itself on something then when it tips the door will close) but regardless, the critter must have eaten 5 times its body weight out of that trap before i gave up on it. Next was the woodchuck trap, ok, not for woodchucks, maybe rats but it could easily have broken my finger (it snapped my sharpie marker in two when i was testing it), so i baited that and tried it... well like the other trap i think it was meant to larger critters (do Azeris just not care about mice?) because i saw the bait i put get smaller and smaller (nibbled away) but no critter. Finally in an act of desperation/irritation (after it got bold enough to start running around while i was in the room) I tried something that i totally didn't think would work, the ole box N stick N string trap. I have lost track of how many times i tried to catch squirrels, birds, and other animate objects using this method (30+ years of trying) and today it paid off!!! I put a box (ok, pot, i wanted something heavy that would fall fast) string and block up with some bread under it and waited, and waited, and waited then he came out, took a dogs age to inch up to the trap then tried making a run for the bread and GOT YA!!!!!

Damn, victory is sweet, even the small ones...