Andrew Kalema, PDC graduate from our 2016 Permaculture course, bamboo expert and ex journalist put it best in a recent Facebook post,
Someday we might all be refugees, how we treat them is how we wish to be treated.
Resource wars, climate change, collapse of the old economic order.. we would be foolish to think we are immune to catastrophic change. If displacement were to come to you then you could do a lot worse than arrive in Uganda. The Central African nation has accepted over a million displaced people in recent times, putting many other nations to shame.
International agencies have stepped in, UNHCR, Norwegian and Danish Refugee councils are visibly engaged, but it is the Ugandan government and people that has extended a welcoming hand by releasing land enabling the refugees to become settlers. I first became aware of the enormity of this situation in a BBC Radio broadcast ‘Crossing Continents’ maybe a year ago, highlighting the crisis. Congolese and South Sudanese people have been pouring across the border in search of refuge in huge numbers.
Experience shows these awful situations take time to resolve and by that I mean some years. Boredom, depression, loss of hope and human violation follows in the tracks of hopelessness, there is a great vulnerability and need for constructive action; so turning camps and places of containment into settlements and places of potential is a significant step forward.
Uganda is showing great compassion to its troubled neighbours, not only have the new settlers been given ID cards and land they are also being offered vocational training and that is where we come in.
AID agencies tend to work in departmental bunkers. Roads. Water and sanitation. Farming and enterprise. Education. Housing. Energy. There is little cross departmental strategy, so to even think about Permaculture in this context is an almost heretical departure from the norm.
Houses catch water, waste becomes compost, roads channel surface water in a way that can either accelerate or slow soil erosion. Tackling food and resource issues through community engagement is education, so to my mind Permaculture should be at the heart of resettlement and enterprise development, especially in these fragile spontaneous communities.
I heard that radio 4 program and realised the huge potential that was being overlooked but how was I to capture the attention of these huge NGO’S? I fired off a few emails to no response. After all Sector39 is a tiny training enterprise in a little Welsh village, hardly well placed to win the attention of international agencies or equipped to work at such scale.
Chance is a strange thing and it turns out the head of the Norwegian Refugee Council’s African operations did a Permaculture course in Wales 12 years ago. S39 began teaching PDC courses in Uganda after a 2014 study tour here visiting innovative farming projects with a local Welsh farmers support Charity, Dolen Ffermio. A course graduate and friend from our 2017 PDC attended a conference in Nairobi this January and whilst at lunch permaculture quickly came up in the conversation around the dinner table between my friend and the woman seated beside him. Turns out the lady concerned was operations director for the Norwegian Refugee Council Africa and they both knew me as their permaculture tutor. She announced that there was growing interest in permaculture as a strategy to develop community resilience in the settlements where they are working. She remembered me well and through my friend invited me to get in touch with the Uganda program director who was also keen on Permaculture.
I was coming to Kampala in February already to speak at the university and to prepare for our next PDC here in May, so I agreed to meet the Uganda project head and on arrival they immediately whisked me off to Bidi Bidi, currently the world s largest refugee settlement.
They couldn’t offer me the work directly as it had to go out for competitive tender but I drafted a training program and budget and in April was invited to submit a bid. I gather there were 100 applications from all over the world but we did win a 6 month opportunity to pilot a permaculture for refugees program that hopefully might become a template for future work. An amazing opportunity for Sector39 and permaculture in general.
We started training 40 participants from both refugee and host communities plus staff, whereby each participate would in turn be expected to train and support 5 family groups.
I write this as we speed home along bumpy roads, crossing the mighty Nile en route having completed 2 weeks of the phase 1 of the training. It has gone well. I am humbled and honoured to have worked with these people.
Everything I ever thought about refugees has changed. The dizzyingly huge numbers turn people into statistics. I couldn’t really imagine how to find common ground with cattle herders and subsistence farmers from Central Africa, Maadi, Dinka, Kakwa people speaking languages I hadn’t even heard of let alone had a grasp of. Through simultaneous translation, demonstration and the magic of permaculture we have found a common language. We have become friends. True connection has been made. I look forward to returning in September, we will give active support in the interim but as we part I can say my new friends and colleagues are inspired, empowered and ready to lead their communities. I will genuinely miss many of them and I know the same is true in return.
Through our own needs, food, soil, energy, enterprise and design we all have much more in common with each other than we realise and the differences are trivial and are what keeps life interesting. Permaculture unites us. Peace.
I have much more to say.. And will do so over coming days.
The UK S39 team began with a quick stop in Kampala to pack up the our land cruiser and a few key items for our practical sessions. Here we met our colleagues Paul Ogola (PDC graduate, 2016), Gerald Jagwe and Ali Tebendeke (PDC graduates, 2017)
We had to stop off in Nateete, a satellite town of Kampala. Of course we couldn’t pass by the city without a visit Ali’s budding urban permaculture project which is working with local youth groups to regreen Nateete town with flowers and trees. Although we couldn’t stay for long, Kampala was hot, busy and we had a long journey still to go. We travelled around 5 hours into the night to our next location, losing a sack of t-shirts off the roof along the way!
In a pumping Saturday night in Gulu, we picked up Vicky Akello, a permaculture graduate from our 2017 PDC in Kamuli. Her work since finishing the PDC with farmers in her area of Gulu has been impressive so she was top of the list of people to add to the team. We grabbed some ‘Chips Chicken’ and chapats, heading further North on progressively bumpy roads!
By midnight we were rally driving over bumps and potholes nearly at our final destination after 11 hours of travelling. We arrived in the town of Pakele, at 1am with the place still full of young people getting late midnight snacks. The next morning we found Pakele is bustling town full of street food stalls, clothing shops with fashionable wears from Kampala and small shops containing sweets, mandazi and lots of beans!
The town had a lively feel and felt very different to the region on Kyotera in the south West. There are many aid and NGO agencies here, UNHRC, Danish Refugee Council and World Food Programme to name but a few. There are lots of hotels and guesthouses that reflect the comings and goings of aid workers in the area. In the area of Sanje people were speaking only English and Lugandan and some Swahili, but in Pakele there are around 6 different spoken languages. The team is already learning some few word in Ma’di which is widely spoken in the North West of Uganda and also in South Sudan. On Sunday we rested, recovered, acclimatised to the extra 8 degrees of heat and then got to work planning for the following weeks’ trainings.
The development of Sector39’s East African Permaculture work has been funded by Hub Cymru Africa as part of the Wales for Africa programme. This funding covered the period of April 1st 2017 to March 31st 2018. This has been invaluable support and for which Sector39 are extrememntly grateful. The following report covers this time period the outcomes from the funding support.
Sector39 Permaculture Uganda project report for Hub Cyrmu Africa 2017 – 2018
Feed back and outcomes regarding the £10,000 of support given to Sector39 in March last year to be used between then and March 31st 2018.
Develop Sector39 as a leading supplier of permaculture education and facilitation in both Wales and Africa
Deliver a full permaculture Design course for 25 participants in Kamuli Uganda, May 2017
To use the course to develop strong networks in Uganda and across East Africa to reach both individuals and organisations that can help further these objectives.
Create opportunities for permaculture practitioners from Wales to gain experience and to develop as teachers
Disseminate information about this work in Wales and to raise awareness of Wales Africa links and support work.
Present in local schools and community groups regarding this work and its wider potentials.
Create opportunities for on going developmental training and work experience for African permaculture practitioners to develop and acquire teaching skills knowledge and experience.
The grant obtained from HCA has been utilised largely as planned and as outlined in our project bid so I don’t have any major changes to report. What I do want to report and forgive me for stepping outside the structure of the report form is that our feet have hardly touched the ground since began our project in May 2017. We have found East Africa to be very fertile ground for permaculture and have had a great deal of success in meeting these objectives.
-I am currently in Uganda having just completed another successful round of training and realise I don’t have the final report form blank available so I am submitting this full report instead and will be posting this on the project website as well for reference.
Sector39 have been teaching permaculture in the UK since 2005 and in 2014 we came out to Uganda with Dolen Ffermio (Wales/ Uganda farmer’s support charity, based in our community) on a study tour which prompted us to explore the possibilities for working in Uganda, teaching permaculture and building on the links we gained through our trip out with Dolen Ffermio.
We did submit a bid in 2016 to HCA but were unsuccessful as we had not fully identified the beneficiaries and how we would measure the outcomes.
Instead of funding Sector39 took out a business development loan and proceeded to run our first full permaculture design certificate course (PDC) in Kamuli Uganda using connections we had made via both Dolen Ffermio and by using social media.
This experience allowed us to write a fuller bid for 2017/ 18 which was successful and it is this I am reporting on now.
Full permaculture design certificate course in Kamuli Uganda.
The May PDC reached 25 participants and Sector39 took out a team of 6 trainers from the UK as well as working with 2 Ugandans and 1 Kenyan we had met via the first course. This was the first big development for us, in that we connected with the Uganda permaculture networks and training organisations, dynamic and vibrant groups mainly populated by people much younger and less experienced than us but of course much netter connected to the grass roots of permaculture in East Africa.
Several of the graduates from our first course were keen to return and to contribute to the teaching and running of the course as well as having met teachers and community leaders who were keen to introduce permaculture into their own schemes of work. So not did the numbers involved grow, we found ourselves reaching far beyond the networks we had originally worked with right into remote and much harder to reach groups.
Training team from Wales of 6 people gained experience in teaching in this context and many insights and new connections were made.
25 Course participants completed the 14 day training, these drawn mainly from Uganda with 4 from Kenya. Our strategy was to recruit trainers, or people who were very active in their own communities. We wanted to identify participants who would in turn train others, start projects and demonstration plots and amplify the benefits gained from their training.
We also understood that in this circumstance we needed to work with English speaking individuals with a degree of education behind them so they could benefit fully from the opportunity we were providing. The design to reach much harder to reach groups could be achieved indirectly through the work of the course graduates.
Via connections and past students from our previous course
Following on from PDCUG16 we retained those people who were most likely to develop as teachers and project initiators them selves. These included a Kenyan farmer and black smith, Paul Ogola who had since started his own demonstration plot in his home community and who returned with 3 individuals who had been inspired by his work and wanted to follow his example. A school teacher from Busoga High, Kamuli who wanted to initiated a student support project by developing growing and micro income initiatives within the school and who can connect us to regional educators.
New contacts recruited via social media.
Social media opens up the possibility to easily develop a dialogue with pro-active individuals who are keen to learn and keen to disseminate information. Through the Sector39 website and social media we identified several really keen and able individuals who demonstrated a keenness and aptitude for permaculture that convinced is of their potential to enable us to meet our project goals
Those who can be recruited and funded for course fees by other organisations with similar objectives. In process of developing and promoting the course S39 connected with like minded organisations who wanted to to access training for their stakeholders. These included Dolen Ffermio from Wales and Kumi Orphans project. Kriegskinder, from Germany supporting child soldiers and those training and supporting vulnerable people in conflict zones.
The single most successful strategy to monitor outcomes from the PDC has again proved to be that of utilising social media and blogs to enable graduates to report on their subsequent work and to document their successes and challenges. This has also enable a cross fertilisation of experience between graduates from the course, using Facebook, WhatsApp and blogs mainly as communication tools.
The PDC itself was reported on daily via the blog at
This Facebook group East Africa Permaculture Students union is populated by our PDCUG17 graduates and has been a highly effective way to maintain contact with graduates and see the outcomes of their work
Graduates form PDCUG17 who initiated projects of their own include:
PermoAfrica centre Kenya – Grass roots permaculture education in Homa Bay Kenya (FB and blog)
K5 village permaculture (FB). Omito Abraham Owiour
Nyero School Project, Godfrey Opolot
Nateete Urban permaculture project: Ali Tebandeke (FB)
Busia region Kenya Uganda out reach: Prince Sebe Maloba (FB)
Busia region farmers and villagers training: Aramadam Mutebi, Send a Goat foundation
Busoga high school forest garden and permaculture project Kamuli, Connie Kauma. (blog)
PRI-UG network. S39 signed a partnership agreement with the Uganda permaculture network, which subsequently has linked us to PRI-Kenya and PRI-Zanzibar. Which has challenged us in turn to convene the first East African permaculture conference, which is planned to follow on from our May 2018 PDC.
BEU Permaculture, Charles Mugarura has developed its focus on permaculture following on from the PDC and has been working with UG partners to link Sector39 to educators, politicians and grass roots activists.
Following on from the PDC in May 2017 the Sector39 team carried a series of visits until late June, following up contacts we have generated through the training. These included:
Mr Mula, permanent secretary office of vice president,
We were invited for a meeting on education and enterprise and development in Uganda with the OVP. Interesting the P.A. to Mr Mulla who was present at the meeting followed up the session by researching into permaculture which she followed by attending the 2018 PDC at Sabina school that we have just completed. The intention of the meeting was to seek support for permaculture at a political level and we have been offered support in any way needed as an outcome of the meeting.
With Gerald Jagwe, course participant and key staff member at PRI-UG, we were invited to meet Mr Bakka on whose land is based the demonstration and research farm for the Permaculture Research Institute of Uganda. We had a site tour and discussed future collaboration. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed and we agreed to collaborate on future ventures. I have since been invited to act as a trustee for the organisation and we are still discussing this. Mr Jagwe is now working with Sector39 on our follow on project with the Norwegian Refugee Agency and he has proved to be an excellent contact.
Hon. Mary Kabanda, MP
Mary is the patron of St Jude’s school Masaka as well as the minister for education for the region. S39 were invited to the school where we met the principle, staff and pupils before been given a full site tour. The purpose of this visit was to promote permaculture as a learning tool in schools and as a site management strategy to increase food yields and reduce waste at the school.
We were invited to present at a regional head teachers conference the next day for 38 regional head teachers from both primary and secondary schools. I showed a full slide show for an hour followed by questions, the slides covered the PDC training in Kamuli and practical work we had done with Busoga High School where we had designed a planted an Agro-forestry/ food forest garden for the school.
Following on from the head teachers conference we were invited by Charles Mugarura (BEU permaculture, Kampala) to visit the school/ orphanage where he had been a pupil and had grown up. Sabina had been founded as an orphanage and school as it was central the area with the highest HIV- Aids infection rate and consequently high orphan rate. Links to the World bank had led to an international team coming to the school in 2008 where a permaculture course had been held and subsequent design being implemented.
I met with Jude the head teacher and we discussed the possible placement of volunteers from Wales at the school, to help maintain and renovate some of the original design work and the possibility of their hosting a full PDC and conference there in 2018.
BEU permaculture agreed to sponsor and oversee three Ugandan placements at the school in a build up programme to the 2018 course and this would support the 2 volunteers from Wales who would join the team in late March. The flights and costs to bring the two volunteers out (Nina Duckers and Grace Maycock) were met from the HCA funds.
I returned to Uganda in February, utilising funds from HCA to further these develops and firm up plans for the volunteer placements, the 2018 PDC and conference and to report to other contacts we had generated on the previous visit.
Sector39 had been invited to present at Makarere University business school conference to around 150 students and future leaders in business. As 5th top business school in Africa this was n ideal opportunity to network and promote permaculture to future leaders.
Steve Jones with some of the BEU team as well as some of the participants at MakarereBusinessSchool Feb 2018.
I was also invited to return to the Office of the Vice President to report on developments. Further offers of support were extended
A visit to Sabina School, (Ssanje, Kyotera district) confirmed the May PDC and set up the permaculture internships for Grace and Nina (both ex Llanfyllin High School pupils) and we developed a plan to establish permaculture gardens to demonstrate the key principles of organic cultivation.
Norwegian Refugee Council
This is a very interesting an unanticipated development to come form this work. Happily in February whilst I was in Kampala the opportunity to meet with NRC came about. A co-incidence is that our new colleague Charles Mugarura attended a conference in Nairobi and was seated next to the head of the NRC and they chatted about permaculture. Sarah King from NRC commented she had done a full permaculture course in Wales back in 2006, with Sector39 so of course Charles mentioned my name as his permaculture tutor and mentor so the connection was made. The Ugandan head of NRC operations is also very interested in permaculture so a meeting was planned.
Following on from several skype calls and a Kampala meeting I was invited to travel to Western Nile district to visit the South Sudanese Refugee settlements and to help write a proposal to bring permaculture into the refugee resilience programme as a tool for training and developing action plans. I spent three days in the settlements and then followed this with meetings in Kampala with various representatives of the organisation.
In April I was invited to submit a bid for the work pan I had helped develop and Sector39’s bid was successful, beating a great many other applications (over 100 I was led to understand). This work commences in June this year and Sector39 have been able to recruit and train a team to lead on this work drawing directly on the contacts and training generated by the HCA funded work.
Grace and Nina placement at Sabina school
As placements in Sabina school in advance of the 2018 PDC Nina and Grace travelled to Uganda on 27th March 2018 using the last of the HCA funds to establish them selves at the School.
We have planned and hope that this opportunity can be extended to future participants as well, now that the precedent has been established.
Other Outcomes from the HCA supported training and network
This is a training centre created directly as a result of the training delivered by S39 in Uganda. It is in Homa Bay Kenya and was directly inspired by the PDC training.
The class room pictured was crowdfunded, using skills learned on the course. They are already running regular courses and Paul Ogola the project initiator has already become an adept permaculture teacher.
Students from the course set up this Facebook page to record their subsequent work, it stands as a great testament to the training and the outomces are out going.
Permaculture East Africa Stuents Union Facebook has proved a successful way to keep track of some of the outcomes following on from the course.
You will see contributions from Prince Sebe Maloba, one of our graduates, he and colleague Ramadan Mutebi are reaching very remote and poor regions in Uganda Kenya border area, extending the reach of our training work way beyond anything we could have anticipated. The key thing is that they are making the work their won. They have taken the ideas an concepts we gave them and adapted them to suit different circumstances. Really this is permaculture in its true form.. Infinitely adaptable and flexible to many situations
One technique for integrated farming demonstrated and taught on PDCUG17 was that of the banana circle. Using a mixture of ground profiling to catch rainwater, a mulch pit to promote water retention, composting and nutrient availability this mix of perennial and annual plants creates a more stable plant guild that can be both highly productive and restorative to degraded soils. A second technique demonstrated on the course was that of making and using biochar as a soil additive. Creating high quality charcoal with all the volatile oils driven off by heat enables a pure carbon soil additive to be used that both increases water infiltration into soils, boosts habitat for soil microbes and remains stable in the soil for log periods of time. You can see it being added here in the image above.
What has been noteworthy is that course graduates, esp Prince Sebe Maloba, Pual Ogola, Godfrey Opolot and others have taken these ideas and made them their own. They have experimented with different biochar making retort kilns, different inoculants to boosts fertility in the biochar, different planting combinations in the tree guilds as well as different shapes and sizes of the circles themselves. Permaculture encourages the adaptation of ideas and techniques to suit local conditions, materials availability and cultural preference. Literally a hundred or more of these have been planted since the training in May 2017 and we have received numerous photos and reports back on the progress of the idea as it continues to morph and evolve.
The final tranch of the HCA funds, as mentioned before were utilised in Feb in a follow up visit to Uganda by project leader Steven Jones who lectured at Makarere business school on this and other work, visited the vice President’s office to report on potential s for permaculture in schools and education and to set up the net, bigger and more ambitions PDCUG18 and conference.
Building on the work of 2017-2018 we have retuned to Uganda with a team of permaculture practitioners largely form from Wales, all taught by Sector39 giving them opportunity to develop professionally and gain new and valuable experience in the field. Together with our African partners we have been able to deliver a much larger course, embedded at a key regional school followed by a permaculture conference bringing people from the wider East Africa region
Steven Jones (Wales)
Grace Maycock (Wales)
Han Rees (Wales)
Nina Duckers (Wales)
Dan Grove (Wales)
Steve Jagger (Wales)
Richard Stephenson (Wales)
Sofia Fairweather (Cananda)
Angela Polkey (Wales)
Gerald Jagwe (Uganda)
Charles Mugarura (Uganda)
Paul Ogola (Kenya)
Tom Yaga (Uganda)
Barbara Carbon (Belgium/ Wales)
Helen Wright (England)
We now have a network of Uganda and Kenyan partners and trainees we can draw from for further project work and in turn these has broadened again to include Tanzania, Rwanda, Congo, Zanzibar, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
All of this experience has led to S39 winning a highly competitive bid to take Permaculture education to the Western Nile region to work with South Sudanese refugees. S39 will be working with another welsh partner Jack Hunter PhD in Llanrhaeadr Ym Mochant to share this experience with schools in the area, namely Llanfyllin High School and also to develop teaching resources in Welsh, English and Arabic to share the experience and insight of permaculture in both locations.
We helped develop this website and host it on our own server. BEU is a training and enabling enterprise in Kampala who are supporting our longer term objectives for permaculture education in East Africa.
The May 2018 PDC has now been completed, with 42 participants and 18 staff and trainee teachers.
This was followed by a 2 day permaculture conference, which drew participants from 12 countries and was the first East Africa permaculture ‘Convergence’.
This event was funded by selling places on the PDC’s donations from supporters in the UK, US and elsewhere and was made possible by the groundwork in the preceeding 12 months which was supported by the Welsh Government.
Visit from Honary Rosemay Seninde
A final outcome was a visit from the Honourable Rosemay Sininde and Minister for Primary education Matthias Kasamba, East Africa legislature representite who closed the PDC and expressed great enthusiasm for the achievements of this work.
We are excited for what may happen next.
Sector39 and partners would like to thank Hub Cymru Africa and the Wales for Africa network for their support, without which we would have not been able set this work and its many outcomes in motion.
I thought you might enjoy this short video. . a quick tour of Paul’s permaculture farm. Paul is a farmer and Blacksmith from Homa Bay Kenya, he came on a Sector39 permaculture course in 2016 and is now part of our teaching team in East Africa.
See the short tour of the garden using the link above
The rains have just started and the new season’s crops are in the ground, revealing the diversity and complexity of the 70m square plot that Paul began less than two years ago.
Paul Ogola came on our first PDC in Kamuli in 2016 and in his own words’ Was in the darkness’ had no real plan as to what he was trying to do, basically trying his best and copying what he saw around.
He returned in 2017 and did the PDC again, this time with 3 people from his community who had already become involved in permaculture via his inspiration. They have in turn gone on to start their own projects. In 18 months since becoming involved in permaculture Paul has moved from being a farmer without a plan to a teacher, community leader and role model. Paul said to me recently that his permaculture work has made him ‘someone in the village’. He has used on-line funding platforms to raise small amounts of money for investment in water tanks and other infrastructure, used Facebook to recruit volunteers and students and from a bare patch of scrub has built a productive and inspiration garden that is now helping raise the expectations of a whole community.
From the video you can see the diversity of plants, techniques and approaches Paul is using, He has built a classroom and is already running his own courses and will be returning this May to Uganda to contribute to the next PDC and to become part of the Sector39 training team currently planning to soon be working in Northern Uganda with South Sudanese refugees and their Ugandan host communities.
We believe permaculture can make a significant contribution in developing climate resilient farming systems, more stable income from more diverse sources and in the process building the confidence, outlook and achievement of many people like Paul.. Imagine the collective impact of such development if we can mobilise whole communities!
This month three ex Llanfyllin High School pupils will be heading to Sabina school in Uganda, where teachers and students alike are embracing permaculture as a tool to aid learning and to build a climate smart school.
Llanfyllin High School may not realize it, but three of their ex pupils are planning to work together on a ground breaking project at Sabina school in Uganda over the coming months. With a good 15 year age gap between the three, they did not know each other whilst at school, but there is enough in common to draw the three together and onto this project in post school years.
Their work is a testament to the ongoing work of the school and the wider community to develop and maintain these essential international links that both broaden all of our horizons and remind us of the interconnected nature of the modern world.
The opportunity has come about via a collaboration between locally based enterprise Sector39, Sabina school and Dolen Ffermio (Farming Link), also local and a charity with long-standing connections to the Llanfyllin High School. Dolen Ffermio go back to 1991 and began from the desire to link communities in the wider Llanfyllin area with communities in Uganda. The charity’s work now encompasses supporting orphan projects, facilitating links between schools and promoting environmental projects.
The seed has been sown
Mid-Wales based permaculture enterprise Sector39 have been expanding horizons by partnering with friends and colleagues both local and global. They had already started to work with Dolen Ffermio developing permaculture education in Uganda before launching The One School One Planet project here in Llanfyllin. This has drawn in and created links and partnerships between Wales and Africa, opening exciting new opportunities.
Teachers and students alike are embracing permaculture at Sabina as a tool to aid learning and to build climate resilient food and energy systems for the school.
Llanfyllin high school has also been working with One School One Planet project over the last 18 months to explore how to better embrace the challenges of the 21st century.
More recently Sector39 have been approached by the Norwegian Refugee Council, requesting us to devise training packages for South Sudanese refugees entering Uganda from the North. Early surveys for this work will begin in April, and one of the tasks for the three ex-pupils wil be to meet and interview some of the trainees, helping assess the imapct of the work.
So the connections grow! It will be fascinating to see what comes from it.
Since visiting Adjumani, Jube and Zone 5 refugee settlement areas in Northern Uganda recently, I don’t think I will be quite the same person again.
A huge influx of refugees has swamped the area with displaced people who in turn are having a devastating impact on the landscape.
Whole forests are disappearing as wood is the only easily available source of energy and land is being rapidly prepared for crop production. There is an air of determination rather than desperation as people there come to grips with what is a hugely challenging situation.
Who knew that Uganda accepted more refugees than any other country in the last 12 months? Over a million from Sudan alone!
From refugees to settlers New arrivals are being invited to stay, offered ID cards, 30m square plots of land and basic tools and training to establish themselves along side host Ugandan communities.
There are people flooding in from the Congo as well where resource fuelled wars (for minerals to make mobile phones) is also greatly impacting the region. It puts the UK’s 12,000 Syrian in-comers over 5 years into perspective somewhat.
Sector39 have been invited to work with the Norwegian Refugee Council along side our local partners to put long-term train plan together to help the region transition from a food aid reliance to self reliance, a transition that will take 4 or 5 years. Naturally many Sudanese will choose to return home when the chance arrives but the likelihood is after 3 or 5 years of settlement Uganda will start to feel like home for a great many of the settlers.
Next Steps Our next objective is to establish a training of teachers strategy which we are calling the Permaculture Academy. We have recognised the need to create literally millions of permaculture pioneers in Africa as well as across the world as this is possibly the most effective way to create climate resilience on a scale required of us by the Paris Agreement.
Sector39 have won support over the last year from the Welsh government to pioneer in this field and are grateful for the opportunities created by their help.
Their investment of £10,000 into our enterprise has set a series of outcomes in motion. We have directly trained 25 students, via the full 2 week PDC course enabled by the grant. Since the course completed in June ’17 several of the graduates have progressed to start projects or initiatives of their own that are already having an impact.
PermoAfrica centre, Paul Odiwor Ogola, Homa Bay Kenya.
K5 village permacuture, Omito Abraham Owuor, Kenya
Nateete urban project, Ali Tebandeke Kampala Uganda
Busoga school project, Connie Kauma. Kamuli, Uganda
Nyero Rocks School project, Opolot Godfrey and Joseph, Uganda
Prince Sebe and Rama Mutebi permaculture outreach. Busia, Kenya
The next Sector39 course will also in clude several returning graduates on their way to become teachers and project leaders in their own right.
More importantly perhaps though, is with the momentum created so far we have found ourselves in government offices, talking to budget heads and opinion forers, to head teachers, planners and politicians all of whom can see the immense value and potential of permaculture.
This incredible opportunity to work with refugees and Norwegian programme has stemmed directly from the work supported by the Welsh Government as well as through networking and promotional activities in line with the grant makers requirements.
We have now completed two full PDC’s in Uganda, the first in 2016 was part funded by a a business development grant from our local Credit Union (Robert Owen Community Bank) and involvement from Dolen Ffermio, Wales Uganda link
The second PDC 2017 was in part funded by the Wales for Africa programme. and delivered through existing Wales/ Uganda support links. However through the process of the work and the huge number of people we have met in the process, we have come into contact with a great many of the permaculture practitioners and pioneers of the wider East African region.
It is hugely exciting to think where this might all lead and we intend to use this momentum to reach a great many more people.
S39 on Go Fund Me
Donations subsidise course places for Africa permaculture pioneers
We are currently running a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money to support student costs on PDC courses for African participants
Permaculture ethics, that’s easy right? Earth-care, People-care Fair share.. everyone knows the mantra, but do we remember what these things actually mean when we recite them parrot fashion?
Recently I have seen on-line chat suggested they should be updated, improved if you will, the suggestion is that of Future-care being floated as an alternative to the Fair-share – which was always a bit lacking and the least understood of the three. But no Future-care really doesn’t do it for me and its inclusion would greatly impoverish the ethics model.
Let us re-trace our footsteps a bit here and roll things back the 1992 and the Rio Earth summit when the ‘S’ word entered the lexicon in a much bigger way than it had ever been used before. Sustainability, they told us is the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
Ok so far so good, then Toby Hemenway in his lecture, ‘How permaculture can save the world but not civilisation’ pointed out that the definition is lacking in that it fails to define what a need actually is and come to that, why are we putting meeting the needs of the present before that of the future? What is a need? Do you really need that cappuccino or another pair of shoes, when it comes to it, who gets to define what a need is? One man’s need is another man’s indulgence.
If we are not careful we are back in the finger wagging judgemental territory most criticised of environmentalists who seem to want to tell everyone else what to do whilst at the same time alienating the vast majority of the population. Telling people they can’t have the stuff they feel they need or deserve or holding one’s own virtuous lifestyle up as some master template has yet to win over the masses.
The ‘S’ word is fraught with difficulty and within a few short years of Rio we have governmental ministers talking about ‘sustainable growth the car industry’ or ‘sustainable economic growth’ or various other oxymoron’s, the word rapidly lost its meaning being hi-jacked left, right and centre to represent a vast swathe of viewpoints.
Back to the drawing board then. Actually before we ditch the ‘S’ word entirely it has something of immense value to offer us and this emerged in the mid 90’s with the idea of the triple bottom line in business. This was environmental sustainability, social sustainability and economic sustainability. Sustainability is a three-legged stool is the metaphor and it needs all three to stand up. Yes to environment and society but what if we can’t afford it? How can we pursue goals that fail to endure economically? Somewhere in this lies the key to understanding the permaculture ethics especially the much maligned third ethic of fair-Shares.
Full disclosure, I studied economics, not in its pure theory but within the context of sustainable development (yes that tricky ‘S’ word again) I studied economics and ecology at the same time and I have always understood that permaculture lies at the intersection of these two disciplines. Economics is about how we meet needs from available resources, ecology is about who we access those resources within an understanding of the mechanism of the living biosphere of which we are all a part. So balancing the needs of people and those of the planet; the earth and people care prospectively is the origin of the first two ethics. I think everyone gets that, some go further and say screw people, the planet comes first but that is a hard sell in today’s consumer paradise, I think most people are with us on the People and Planet aspiration but the key question as ever is how do we achieve this finely balanced mix.
This is where the third ethic comes in to play and I strongly believe it is the key one.. you can take the first two ethics as read.. I really want to drill down into what this tricky third one is all about.
Yes it is about economics, it is about choices, it is about priorities and the ‘Fair-share’ epithet doesn’t do it for me. It is a handy menomic for sure but it fails to convey meaning and sounds dangerously like a naïve socialist doctrine, leaving us once again with the challenge of who gets to decide what is fair exactly?
Bil Mollison never explained it that way anyway, fair-share was a late arrival, an upstart if you will, one that could have come from a branding agency. The real meat on this bone is about setting limits to consumption, yes my friends at the heart of permaculture is the most radical idea of all, that there is such a thing as enough. In a world where consumerism is touted as an end in itself and conspicuous consumption is worn on the sleeve one might be forgiven for forgetting the setting limits to consumption bit, I guess this equates to fair-shares but still it goes so much deeper.
David Holmgren can help us here, I refer you to principles three and four of his set of twelve. Principle four being about setting limits and three is about meeting needs, obtain a yield, ‘You can’t work on an empty stomach’. It is not in any way selfish to meet ones own needs, in fact it is essential, without breakfast you are no good to anyone, and can’t do a full day’s work. Anyone who has been on an airplane knows that in the safety demo they always tell you.. ’in the unlikely event of the cabin de-pressurizing an oxygen mask will descend, take care to put yours on first before assisting others’. There you have it, you might be a great altruist with only your fellow passengers’ concerns at heart, but at the moment you go blue in the face and pass out you are no good to anyone, in fact you are now a burden to those around you. Meeting one’s own needs first is the first rule of survival for all. It is not selfish it is self empowering.
So with these ethics I would also argue we actually put them the wrong way round, from a permaculture perspective the process of empowerment and enabling positive change begins with meetings one’s own needs, whilst ensuring there is still a surplus for investment. This reinvestment of surplus turns out to be the key, the thing and most likely to be overlooked. The reinvestment of surplus is the how, it is the mechanism that empowers us to achieve the people and planet aspiration.
The rule is you meet your own needs, settling limits and realising there is such a thing as a enough.. only you know what is enough for yourself and this should and can be constantly re-evaluated. Where we set the line for cappuccinos or shoes is a personal choice and no one should be telling us as individuals what to do. However we need to know that if we go into deficit meeting our supposed needs we will never have the faintest chance of being sustainable or doing permaculture effectively.
Sustainability is the meeting of core needs whilst retaining a surplus for reinvestment back in the system. What we do with surplus is what defines us. I argue in my public speaking and teaching that what you choose to do with that bit left over after survival is the key decision each and everyone of us makes. Reinvestment of surplus in social and ecological ends guarantees a world of constant improvement, an expansion of possibilities, sticking it away in the Cayman Islands for some possible rainy day is the thing that drains the life blood of any system and constantly impoverishes it.
We were chatting about this on Facebook recently and someone asked what if there is no surplus? Then of course the preconditions for sustainability in this case are not being met and changes have to be made, this rule holds true for all. If there is no surplus then changes must be made and a redesigning is in order.
I am an enthusiastic advocate of co-operatives, they are vastly superior to a PLC and I will tell you why. PLC’s are owned by shareholders who appoint directors to maximise the return on investment. Profits are siphoned out of the company to channel towards personal ends, tax havens and consumerist endeavours. Co-operatives exist to benefit their customers, users and members and any surplus is used to reward loyalty and is reinvested in the co-operative so that it can continue to benefit its stakeholders. Co-ops reinvest surplus, PLCs extract it and put it elsewhere.
This is the key difference and this is why to my mind Bill Mollison is absolutely right to state the ethics are.. set limits to consumption and reinvest surplus, for the enablement and betterment of other people, society and planet ie. people care and the environment.
Put simply as an example I live in a housing cooperative, we set our rent at a level that covers our bills and responsibilities and returns a small surplus we can spend on improving the environmental performance of our home, insulation, heating etc. and allowing us to choose socially responsible alternatives for our food, services etc. So I am sorry if it does not scan as well, or make a great t-shirt but these are and will forever be the permaculture ethics.. saying future-care.. as I have seen proposed tells us nothing, it is already covered by the first two anyway.
The third ethic gives us the mechanism by which to achieve our ambitions of not just sustainability but regeneration and genuinely sustainable growth; one that builds soil, stores water and nutrients and protects and enhances biodiversity, the very tools we need to sustain our own needs.
Sector39 is growing; as well our standard courses we have launched a series projects as well. Inquiries are also arriving from an ever broader spectrum of sources as ever more people wake up to the potentials of permaculture
We are holding a celebration in Llanrhaeadr Village hall 24th March.
There will be food, music and of course excellent company for an evening of talking dancing and celebrating! Its also my 55th birthday. Please join the celebration!
Steve Jones, S39 Director
It has to be a good thing that permaculture has never been more in demand and Sector39 is finding opportunities in all sort of new areas.
The big idea we have been working on for a few years now is that of a Permaculture Academy. On going teacher training and project facilitator development.. really its a mentoring process to develop new permaculture informed initiatives where we can.
May this year we are running a PDC for 60 participants within an established school and permaculture site in Uganda, followed by a 2 day permaculture convergence.
The intention is to launch the Academy and show case the best permaculture can offer to an invited audience and opinion former’s and budget heads, school heads and trustees.
We are fundraising for student bursary fund, applications will be competitively assessed for the number of places available via successful fundraising. Your contributions really will change lives!
Please do support our fundraiser event, tickets are available from: