The Indigenous people of the Oglala Lakota are revitalising their culture with permaculture, Indigenous wisdom and looking for solutions for the next seven generations. Based at Pine Ridge in South Dakota, a Reservation created in 1889 – originally part of the Great Sioux Reservation – there’s a need for change.
Helping vulnerable people access permaculture needs to be a priority. With one percent of humanity currently displaced and half of all refugees aged under 18, permaculture is the ‘difference that makes a difference’. The UN World Food Program has warned by the end of 2020, one in 30 people could be pushed to starvation. Credo Walola is a 12-year-old boy who has lived most of his life in a refugee camp in the far southwest of Uganda. Rwamwanja is home for over 70,000 refugees, mostly Congolese nationals like him. Life there is challenging and this year it has become even harder; schools have closed, food rations have halved and basic supplies are no longer reaching his camp. His friend, 15-year-old Salumu Itongwa, died a few weeks ago of blackwater fever.
Jane Amunga is a Kenyan grandmother, community leader and farmer. She lives in a mud house in the rural village of Kambiri in Kakamega, close to the only remaining equatorial rainforest in the country. But the rain is sparse. The soil on her tiny farm is depleted and her plants are struggling. Getting water means a long walk. Her husband is dying. Her daughter and grandchildren have moved back in because they have nowhere else to go. The whole region is struggling.
Permaculture for Refugees, formed in 2016 by a group of dedicated permaculture teachers, arose from a deep conviction that permaculture would be desired, valued and effective for refugees in camps and settlements.
Poverty in many rural African villages is extreme. Up to half of the children in these villages are still suffering from stunting and malnutrition. Soil degradation and poor crop yields are ubiquitous. Fifty years of projects run by donor and government groups aimed at the rural poor in Africa have had very little impact. What is having an impact are some small projects aimed at growing more food for the household.
We are very conscious that climate change will hit the tropics, and especially the most vulnerable, very hard. The aim of the Tropical Permaculture Guidebook (TPGB) is to be part of simultaneously creating lifestyles that contribute to environmental regeneration rather than climate change and degradation and provide resilience and proactive adaptability in facing current challenges.
It’s early morning in the misty, humid mountains of Timor-Leste, one of Australia’s closest neighbours. Chickens and roosters roam free, smoke from the cooking fires fill the air and the village of Baguia is coming to life.
The Green Garden Group (GGG) of Iviani Primary School in the Eastern Province of Ukumbani, Kenya, started in 2013. Back then it had around 60 teachers, students and community members who were eager to learn about and practise permaculture. I facilitated the start of GGG because I felt that food security and prevailing droughts can only be addressed with changed behaviour, hence the introduction of permaculture.
One day you are driving to work, living in the neighbourhood you’ve grown up in and been to school in, you’ve been to university, maybe are married, had a family, bought a house. You’re employed and have a wage. Then political unrest sweeps through the country and people start carrying guns and fighting starts. It’s unsafe to stay so you are forced to leave. You flee. How would you cope? How would your family cope? Where would you go? What conditions would you be prepared to live in, and for how long? What conditions would you expect your family to put up with?
In an unnumbered house on a dirt road in Kabul lives a small community, the Afghan Peace Volunteers (APVs). The members are mostly Hazaras, people who have been appallingly discriminated against in invasions and wars. They have no reason to believe in peace nor even consider it is possible.