Permaculture Gardens for Women & Children, East Africa project description by Morag Gamble

Supporting capacity building and the establishment of permaculture food gardens to improve nutrition and a place to demonstrate and learn.

Introduction to permaculture workshop in a demonstration permaculture garden, Kambiri Kenya

Introduction: Thank you to Permafund and all those who contribute to it, for supporting programs that help vulnerable women and children in East Africa with a $1,000 grant.

In December 2018, I was invited to Uganda and Kenya by small community-based organisations to support local permaculture education programs particularly with women and children. I went as a volunteer and took my two eldest children, Maia and Hugh (then 12 and 10). As well as being helpers along the way, they also graduated with their PDCs from the course held at the Sabina Primary School led by young people from Uganda, Kenya and Liberia. The core goal of this course was to teach teachers.

(Note: As volunteers, my children & I paid for all our expenses & received no payment for our work.)

My children meeting the women’s self-help group leaders who are sharing permaculture in the local village and schools

Goal: The overall goal of this project was to enable communities to vision, design, implement and manage permaculture food gardens for education, food security, and sustainable livelihood capacity-building.

The project: The funds donated by Permafund were spent on helping to develop the practical land-based centres for learning about permaculture at two main locations.

A: Sabina School, near Rakai, south west Uganda

The school at Sabina is important for a number of reasons.

  • It is a place of learning for hundreds of local children
  • It is a becoming a teaching garden for permaculture teachers
  • It is becoming a teaching garden for school teachers

The funds were used to buy tools, fruit trees, seeds, building materials for compost systems, animal enclosures and animals, and provide educational materials.

This school was also the site of permaculture design course in December 2018 followed by local farmer training and local school teacher training programs.

The ongoing management of the project is the responsibility of the school, with the permaculture trained teachers and school students who attended training. A local permaculture organisation, BEU Permaculture is regularly checking in with progress.

Children at Sabina School learning permaculture with my children.

B: Women’s Self-help Group, Kambiri Village, Kakamega, Kenya

This region of Kenya is experiencing prolonged drought and the women have come together to find solutions. Permaculture makes good sense to them. Through additional crowdfunding, Ethos Foundation sponsored 5 people from this region to attend permaculture design courses at Sabina School in Uganda.

In December 2018 in Kambiri I offered an introduction to permaculture workshop and undertook an assessment of the area to understand the needs for developing a permaculture education centre. During this introductory workshop we undertook a collaborative process and drafted a design for the demonstration gardens. We also helped start a seed-exchange program.

The demonstration gardens are now being developed and a Permaculture Design Course was held in August 2019. Participants of the PDC were mostly women and they have returned to their communities to share permaculture design ideas and strategies.

Jane Amunga - the initiator of the Women’s Self Help group at Kambiri.

The Women’s Self-Help group leaders, Kambiri Kenya in their permaculture demonstration garden

The Permafund funds were used to purchase a water tank and seeds, set up for the permaculture training, pay a local translator and distribute educational materials.

Ethos sponsored four local leaders to complete their PDC in Sabina School, Uganda - principal, agriculture extension worker, support worker for girls health, disability advocate. These people are now teaching locally and supported the Women’s group PDC in August 2019.

Permaculture and the government: It’s also interesting to note that while in Uganda, we met with the East African Minister for Agriculture and the Ugandan Minister for Education, as well a number of local and regional officials. All of them are very keen to see permaculture developed further in the region. One particularly interesting discussion was around having permaculture taught in university to teachers, and there being a series of schools around Uganda where teachers could go and learn in-situ. It was identified that support was welcomed in helping to develop curriculum and teaching those who can lead such programs in university.

Meeting with the Minister for Education at her home in Uganda.

Permaculture and the refugee council: Also interesting to note is the community resilience work of the Danish Refugee Council, particularly that of Natalie Topa, in her role of Resilience Officer. I spent some time with her in Nairobi and was delighted to hear about how much her work is based on permaculture throughout East Africa and Yemen.

Natalie Topa with Morag Gamble in Nairobi. Natalie Topa works with the Danish Refugee Council and implements permaculture throughout her work.

Ongoing: Ethos Foundation is continuing to provide some additional support for the development of these gardens and is dedicated to sponsoring permaculture education programs that will help people implement and manage more of these types of local permaculture demonstration gardens.  The aim is to create a network of permaculture gardens in local communities - places to learn, to demonstrate, to access resources and connect with others wanting positive change.

Impact: Several gardens have been renewed and/or established where people can come to learn about permaculture. Gardens and systems are developing for the seeds and plant materials to be freely exchanged. New networks of local permaculture teachers are being established.

About Ethos Foundation: The Ethos Foundation, a sister organisation to the Permaculture Education Institute, is a small registered permaculture charity dedicated to:

  1. supporting the spread of permaculture education through practical community-based projects led by local people to address local needs in their local communities
  2. mentoring, enabling and supporting local permaculture leaders and educators
  3. providing micro grants to local projects to access the resources needed to implement sustainable food garden initiatives.

A sincere thanks again to Permafund for supporting these communities. I encourage you to continue donating to Permafund. The difference that can be made with a small amount of resourcing is quite phenomenal.

Report by Morag Gamble, Executive Director (volunteer), Ethos Foundation

Permafund is managed by Permaculture Australia and provides small grants to communities in Australia and internationally. Donations over $2 are tax deductible and are accepted as 'one off' or recurring donations. Find out more including how to donate here: https://permacultureaustralia.org.au/permafund/donating-to-permafund-is-easy/