It has taken our team three years to complete this text book. We have been working with our local high school and across our whole community to investigate how we can raise this essential issue in a meaningful and constructive way.
Permaculture gives us the statment, ‘the problem is the solution’ recognising that a problem is the inverse of its solution, problems are not unrelated but directly connected to their solution. Further more simply presenting dire predictions of a problem so huge humanity cannot face it achieves nothing but either continued denial or all out nihilism. Permaculture is a design process that is inclusive, works out from one’s own experience and helps build a co-ordinated and unified response.
Greta Thunberg began her activism at 15, starting alone yet within months creating a world wide movement. We take our inspiration from her work, we challenge everyone who cares to set in motion their small and slow solution and lets see how it builds and where it takes us.
We are excited to be featured in the latest Permaculture Magazine (PM101) in a piece exploring our work in refugee settlements in Uganda last year. It was a huge experience for all of us involved. We trained 40 refugees in permaculture and then supported them over the following 6 month period to become teachers and leaders , each trainee was tasked to train 4 families from their own surrounding communities.
Here are the pioneers, those who are now on the front line of bring permaculture into the community of Bidibidi refugee settlement and beyond. We are hoping we can find ways to continue to support them in this vital effort to combat poverty, de-forestation and food insecurity by bringing design and purpose via permaculture to their communities
The trainees, first generation permaculture team, Maaji and Bidibidi 2018
These stunning portraits were taken by Angharad Rees
Revolution is a strong word. It implies many things, most of them challenging but I use it deliberately, this my friends is a revolution, a seismic change is underway and we all need to get behind it. The more we take part the more we get to shape it and the corresponding outcomes.
One thing is for sure is that the immense challenges we face are not going to away by us ignoring them.
Revolution? I am actually quoting Prince Charles of all people, not your text book revolutionary, but those are the first words of his recent book Harmony.
“This is a call to revolution. The Earth is
under threat. It is losing its balance and we
humans are causing this to happen”
Revolution is a strong word and I use it
deliberately. The many environmental and
social problems that loom large, cannot be
solved by the very approach that caused
them” HRH Charles
I am no great royalist or in the habit of quoting their words but this statement cannot be overlooked. It is highly significant. Charles has been environmentally inclined his whole adult life and mainly laughed at in the tabloids for talking to plants or whatever, but it is undeniable that he has a deep understanding of the natural world and he is absolutely correct to raise the most urgent of concerns. Carrying on our current path will lead us self destruction, a whole new way of thinking is required, tinkered at the edges, making eco bricks from plastic at best slows our demise by a moment or two, something much more fundamental is required of us all.
Don’t look to Government, this is beyond their remit, they care about GDP, banks and corporate access to minerals and markets, the change will come from the bottom up and we will have to drag our government kicking a screaming into the new paradigm, This we have to do and with some urgency too. 2019 is the tipping point year, we really have left this to the very last minute and it is going to take everyone to get us to where we need to be.
This is also no overnight event, this is 30 year revolution we have before us, that is how long we have to de-carbonise our economy, maybe a lot less. To set a course to a sustainable future we must half global emissions this decade, failing on that means we will have left it way to late to even have a chance. We have delayed and delayed, but the time for action really is upon us. 2019 is the year we set a course to a very different destination.
Please come along to find out more, meanwhile listen to this.
Alexandra Ocasio Cortez overturned a long standing incumbent to gain a seat in congress. At 29 she has a radical outlook for the future, her ambition is exciting. Radical, Bold. I want to hear a lot more of this kind of talk. I see her rapid rise in politics as a reflection of the changes coming.
You might wonder what we are proposing, what is the agenda, simply that begin meaningful conversations across the community about the problems we face. Poverty, debt, a contracting economy, Brexit but the over arching issue is climate and that we have to halve our emissions and rapidly as we can. I like the idea coming from Extinction Rebellion, that of forming people’s assemblies, we need to demand the government at every level do their job, they should be working for us and being held account by us much more. They are failing us as they are still subsidizing oil companies, holding back renewable energy development while pushing for investment in fossil fuel extraction.. there is simply no excuse for this and we will have to hold them to account.
June to November have been a momentous time for our training teams here in Western Nile. In just 6 months we have been tasked with the challenge of introducing permaculture methods in this untamed region where refugees greatly outnumber the indigenous population.
In partnership with Norwegian Refugee Agency Sector39 has led on a 6 month training program for refugees and host community members. Many of the trainees are not experienced farmers or gardeners, more typically cattle herders and grazers. Here in Western Nile they have been given a plot of land and challenged to supplement their basic food aid with what they can grow in kitchen gardens, using organic and permaculture approaches
This is a 15 minute narrated slideshow with thoughts about the final phase of the project with thoughts on how it can be best continued. (below)
Interviews and testimonies
This first interview is with NRC translator and host community member Julius, he has fully involved himself in the project although he wasn’t present at the initial training. He makes some very perceptive observations about the impact of the project and has taken on many of the ideas and insights himself as he can observe them working effectively.
This 2nd video with one of the members, Opio Grace is very revealing and worth listening to. I left in the local language as well as the translation (translated section from 2:10) as I wanted to share her voice as well. It is clear that permaculture has had a significant impact on her life in just 6 months.
“Permaculture has changed by life” Opio Grace
Audio testimony from a Maaji 3 team member
Zone 4 BididBidi have the aspiration of securing a 2 acre plot to develop a permaculture enterprise and demonstration center. The map below is the product of group discussion and consultation over several days. We have already worked together to create a small training plot right next to the church we have been using as a class room.
We would hope very much to have the opportunity to support these pioneers over the establishment phases of this project.
The permaculture team members Maaji settlement
Slides of the Maaji team design presentation
Permaculture Training Centre Maaji,
This audio track is a presentation from the members design team which focused on building and the carpentry skills as an enterprise within training centre sketched above.
Fuel Efficient Stove project
This slideshow and narration explores progress developing and promoting fuel efficient stoves with the community members
Proposal: This project would benefit from support for a minumum ofr two years.
– ambition is to establish a permaculture training centre which will will transition into a stakeholder owned and managed fully independent enterprise.
– exploring a training and Enterprise development model that can be self replicating and able to generate much of the resource need to sustain from within its own internal economy.
The vision is to work closely with the members from the training to create a new and wholly refugee (stakeholder) owned enterprise that will serve as a permaculture training and demonstration hub for the region. It would incubate several related enterprises that initially would be the service providers for the training centre.
Building livelihood, enterprise and food security is the aim and to create a thriving learning hub at the centre of this new emerging community. We envisage the centre acting a hub for training and outreach across the Western
Nile region, developing many of the resources and skills needed to create a shift in the prevailing methodology for food and livelihood security.
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!
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
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:
We are calling it the Permaculture Academy, it is a peer-to-peer learning programme that sets its sights on tackling climate change, vastly increasing social and economic resilience and directly helping refugees from Southern Sudan, DRC and elsewhere in Uganda and Kenya.
Sector39 is a small organization based in Wales that has until now has survived through trading, running courses on permaculture design and developing community focused food growing projects and housing co-operatives.
Almost no one invests in local subsistence farming in Africa, yet those vulnerable farmers could be the key to climate resilience and carbon sequestration. We have learned how to directly benefit those people, through permaculture education.
In the last 2 years, in partnership with a local Welsh charity we began running our courses in Uganda, wanting to support sustainable farming initiatives in the Eastern Region there. The work had really taken off, exceeding our wildest expectations and we are left wondering how to build on this momentum
Step one:We are planning a larger courses in May 2018 with Ugandan partners that will also kick-start a teacher training programme for East African permaculture teachers.
Step two: We are following our May 2018 course with a permaculture conference drawing in political and regional supporters, focusing on links with Schools
Step three: We hope to launch our Permaculture Academy initiative in 2018 and it is for this we are seeking, funding, investment or donations. The need is to put together a local team of permaculture professionals who can support this work and to cover the core project costs over the coming three-year period.
We are looking at AID agencies and other funders but we are ready to begin the work now and have built an amazing network to help us deliver this. If you can help us achieve this the n please get in touch, we can supply much more information about the outcomes and beneficiaries of this work but will spare the details here.
We find ourselves in a fantastic position to be able to facilitate long-term benefits through education and have an established network of partners and practitioners to enable to do this.. all we need is the investment o get u on our way.
It feels like a shot in the dark, asking in this fashion and we will pursue existing avenues for funding.. but as the saying goes, if you don’t ask you don’t get.. and those with money to invest often have more than they need, so here goes, please consider helping us if you are able!