santo antao fire damage map

Santo Antão fire damage

The forest fire on Santo Antão that we reported on last week has now been extinguished. However, the Cape Verdean Minister of Agriculture, Gilberto Silva, has stated that it will take a lot of hard work over more than five years for the area to recover from the fire damage.

Some 200 hectares (almost 500 acres) were damaged according to latest estimates. This area is some 13% of the whole forest area and equivalent to approximately 200 football pitches. The flames have destroyed trees, endemic plants and water pipelines. These pipelines were installed to provide water to the East Plateau (Planalto Leste).

The causes of the fire are as yet unknown.

santo antao forest fire

Devastating forest fire on Santo Antão

With fires breaking out in a number of countries in Europe, a new forest fire has now broken out in the forest on the island of Santo Antão in Cape Verde. This fire has been described as being more serious than the one in June 2017. It is thought that it might be the worst fire to have hit this forest.

The fire is reported to have started in the area of Espongeiro. It as already burnt a large amount of the forest, reports suggest as much as 30 hectares (74 acres) and some houses are threatened..

The fire is described as complicated, given that it is burning on at least three separate fronts. Some families have been evacuated from the areas at risk. This fire destroy an important part of the eco-system on the island. The smoke will also have unwelcome effects on the environment.

This is the third fire that has occurred in this forest in under two months. The Government set up a volunteer fire brigade only two weeks ago as a measure to protect this precious forest.

farming irrigation

Farming improvements for women on Santiago Island

At a time when much of Europe is in the middle of a heatwave/draught it is particularly good to hear that some farmers in Cape Verde have had their lives improved by the installation of a water irrigation system. Money from the African Development Bank has paid for this installation on the island of Santiago. It means that the farmers that have benefitted from it no longer have to hike for up to 20km in order to get water for farming and for daily use.

Santiago is the largest island in Cape Verde and it is an important centre for agriculture. Farming relies on water for its survival, but in country where there is little rain that has always proved problematic. A large number of farmers are women, so this is making life considerably improved for these hard working ladies. One lady farmer has reportedly been able to increase her production and can now send her son to university.

The Picos and Engenhos Watershed Management project will help to secure the future for farming on Santiago. It has already increased the yield of the 17 farming groups that has brought almost 1,000 women farmers together. The programme has seen wells, reservoirs and irrigation systems constructed over the course of 7 years. Currently Cape Verde has to import up to 75% of its food. It is anticipated that this improvement in agricultural production will reduce that figure.

New Solar Farm in Cape Verde

Work has recently started on a large photovoltaic installation on the island of Sal in Cape Verde. This is part of the Cape Verdean government’s aim to supply all of the country’s energy from renewable sources. Águas de Ponta Preta (APP) is constructing this new solar farm at Ponta Preta.

The new installation will supply 2.03 GWh/year, consequently it will reduce the reliance on fossil fuels by 10%. The solar farm will comprise 3,480 panels and will cost €2.03m. Through an agreement with CERMI – The Centre for Renewable Energy and Industrial maintenance – 8 students are involved in the assembly and operational stages.

Cape Verde has almost unlimited sun therefore the use of this free resource to provide electricity is an obvious one for this country.