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 training plans 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 permaculture, 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 list grows.. most are linked to this Facebook page
The next Sector39 course will also include several returning graduates on their way to becoming 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 formers, 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 the 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 maker’s requirements.
We have now completed two full PDC’s in Uganda, the first in 2016 was part funded by a business development grant from our local Credit Union (Robert Owen Community Bank) and involvement from Dolen Ffermio, Wales Uganda link.
The second PDC in 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