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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.

Ranked the poorest county in the nation, it has a lack of housing, abysmal health issues, severe food insecurity and has been described as a developing nation within the USA. OLCERI is an Indigenous-led organisation aiming to cultivate skills for regeneration. It’s creating gardens, earthships, appropriate technologies and practising holistic land management. Completely off-grid, everything the organisation does is supporting affordable and accessible housing and a resilient food system. OLCERI hosts Indigenous Wisdom and Permaculture Skills Convergences and Permayouth Americas have partnered in support.

Permayouth: In Their Hands

Credo is a 12-year-old refugee in Uganda and just one of many young people around the world who are using permaculture to build a bright and sustainable future.

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.

Women Sharing Permaculture In Kenya

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.

A severe drought has been affecting Kenya for years. Crops are failing and millions of people face acute food insecurity. Climate change is affecting the lives of local communities throughout the region and the already degraded landscapes, ecosystems and soils are under increasing pressure.

A local nurse, Jane cares deeply for her community and is a trusted elder. She started a women’s self-help group, for women to support each other, helping each other with solutions; and she has now discovered permaculture.

Permaculture For Refugees


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.

Understanding that refugee settlements and camps were often unresponsive to the needs of their residents, a small team from Italy, the Philippines, Greece and Australia embarked on an ambitious program to transform problems into solutions.

Tailored Permaculture Design Courses (PDCs) were designed for refugees across a diverse range of ages, religions, languages and nationalities, residing at sites in Bangladesh, Turkey, Greece and Malaysia. The team hoped to gain evidence that showed the permaculture world had something effective, and of value, to offer refugees, camp managers, INGOs and NGOs. They also wanted to work with host community organisations and embed permaculture into the refugee culture.

Permaculture Africa: Feeding The Farmers First

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.

The reason the majority of projects that deal with food security in rural Africa have been failing is because they are all commercial projects. They follow the idea that subsistence farming must be replaced by commercial farming for development to go ahead.

In reality, on the land available to these villagers, commercial crops are rarely worth much. The most sensible strategy for these smallholder families is to intensify their production of food crops for home consumption and to sell only the surplus that is produced after all their food needs have been met. I call this ‘feeding the farmers first’.

The Tropical Permaculture Guidebook

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.

The TPGB is helping people all over the world have more food, cleaner water, better livelihoods, be more resilient, more sustainable and live in healthier and more stable communities. It creates the framework pattern of permaculture design from a typical tropical community perspective, then provides the details of how to actually achieve it, with step-by-step technical knowledge explained both in words and images.

The guidebook is the result of a collaboration from East Timorese NGO Permatil (Permaculture Timor-Leste), xpand Foundation (an Australian social enterprise working predominantly in Timor-Leste), Disruptive Media (design and strategic communications for social change) and a huge band of supporters.

Coffee With Heart From Timor-Leste


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.

Paulino has been in his jungle garden since 5 am, working in the cool of the morning, collecting yams and sweet potatoes. His wife Fatima has been up for a few hours getting the cooking fire going and preparing a breakfast of rice and green vegetables for the family of ten.

At a farmers’ market in Melbourne, a coffee trike is in full swing, pumping out delicious specialty coffee from Timor-Leste, but this brew is different to most. The WithOne- Bean coffee trike is serving ethical and fair trade flat whites to its customers. But while those enjoying their coffees may not realise the impact it’s having on subsistence farmers like Paulino, each cup is making a real difference.

Shamba La Jamii: Garden For The Community In Kenya


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.

The students attend school from 7am until 5pm and there was little or no food available throughout the day. While there was a government feeding program of maize and beans, these initiatives come and go fast in Kenya, so the GGG took action. We implemented a kitchen garden, and planted a food forest and Moringa forest. We also established a tree nursery from seeds collected from their environment, planting over 4000 trees on the school land and throughout the community.

Lebanon: The Power Of Community


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?

Lebanon has an incredible lineage of cultures, in the midst of so much history. In Lebanon today, there are an estimated six and a half million people. There are four million Lebanese, half a million Palestinian refugees who’ve been in refugee camps for over 40 years, and around two million Syrians who have arrived in the past five years.

These last few years have been an incredible change for both the Syrians and the Lebanese. Many of the Syrians are people whom Australians can easily identify with—middle -class families, living urban lives. They’ve fled their homes and jobs. They left in their cars, or buses or taxis. Whatever it took at that critical moment when the decision to flee had to be made, when the threat of violence became too much. Many had little idea of what conditions they were heading towards.

Enough: The Story Of A Peace Community In Kabul


n 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.

Yet a core group of these young people teamed up with a visionary Singaporean doctor, Hakim Tek Young Wee, to focus on the needs of the poorest people in their community. They also wanted to make a statement about war; its pain and impact. This is imaginative and dramatic peacemaking.

The residential APV community is just a short walk from the Borderfree Nonviolence Community Centre (BNVCC) where the APV activities take place. Fifty or more young volunteers come and go all day, pursuing their peace work and setting aside traditional ethnic differences. In fact they welcome all Afghan ethnic groups.