The Rafiki Community-Based Organisation in Nairobi Kenya successfully applied for a $2,000 Permafund grant in early 2023 to support their Rafiki Urban Farming program.
Their community initiative is being implemented in Viwandani informal settlements in the city to promote sustainable and resilient food production systems by applying permaculture ethics and principles.
The program was initiated to address food insecurity, improve nutrition, poverty and environmental degradation in the community. By implementing permaculture practices, the program seeks to empower the local community to grow their food, reduce their dependence on external food sources and improve their overall well-being.
Since its inception, the Rafiki Urban Farming program has made significant progress in various aspects. Firstly, the program has successfully mobilised and engaged the community in the establishment and maintenance of urban farms. Through awareness campaigns and capacity-building workshops, community members have been trained on permaculture and organic farming techniques and sustainable resource management.
As a result of these efforts, a considerable number of urban farms have been established across Viwandani informal settlements. These farms have not only provided a source of nutritious food but have also served as spaces for community cohesion and skill-sharing.
The program has facilitated the formation of farmers’ groups where members collaborate, exchange knowledge, and support each other in implementing permaculture practices. Moreover, the program has successfully reached its initial target of establishing 50 individual and communal permaculture gardens within the community. These gardens are owned by residents to ensure widespread access to fresh produce. As a result, more than 50 individuals now have direct access to nutritious food from their gardens, reducing their reliance on expensive market purchases.
The current status of the Rafiki Urban Farming program is highly encouraging, achieving several notable accomplishments. Firstly, the program has significantly increased access to fresh and nutritious produce for the community members, with a diverse range of crops and herbs being cultivated. This has positively impacted food security and improved the overall health and well-being of the residents, particularly vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly.
Plus the program has empowered community members by providing valuable knowledge and skills in permaculture and sustainable farming practices. This has led to increased self-reliance, as farmers can now grow their food, make their compost and reduce reliance on external sources. Additionally, the program has created income-generating opportunities through surplus produce sales, contributing to poverty alleviation and economic empowerment within the community.
Furthermore, the program has raised awareness about the importance of sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation. Through community events, workshops, and educational materials, the program has disseminated information on permaculture ethics and principles, leading to a broader understanding and appreciation for sustainable practices. The program has also forged partnerships with local schools, enabling the integration of permaculture into the curriculum and fostering a culture of sustainability among the younger generation.
● Lack of access to quality organic inputs, such as compost and organic fertilisers. Participants are encouraged to compost their organic waste and share it with others, creating a decentralized composting network.
● Limited space so innovative solutions adopted such as vertical gardening, rooftop farming and re-purposing small, unused spaces.
● The knowledge and skills gap has been addressed by conducting regular training sessions covering permaculture principles, organic farming techniques, soil management, pest control, and crop rotation
● Climate change and water scarcity: Limited amount of water available for irrigation. Viwandani, like many other urban areas, is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including erratic rainfall patterns and water scarcity. These climatic conditions pose challenges for urban farming, particularly in maintaining adequate water supply for irrigation. To address this, the program focused on water conservation and management strategies such as rainwater harvesting and water recycling (kitchen water and bathing water). By implementing these measures, the program has reduced water wastage and ensured efficient water use in urban farms.
● Community Engagement and Ownership: Initially, there was resistance and scepticism among some community members regarding the effectiveness and long-term sustainability of the program. To overcome this challenge, the program emphasised community engagement and participation. Regular community meetings, dialogue sessions, and participatory decision-making processes were conducted to involve the community in program planning and implementation. By fostering a sense of ownership and active participation, the program gained community support and commitment, leading to the success and sustainability of the urban farms.
Scaling Up and Replication: Given the success and impact of the program in Viwandani, it is recommended to consider scaling up the initiative to other sub-villages of Viwandani informal settlements within the region. This could be achieved through collaboration and continuity of partnership and supporting other local organisations with similar objectives and goals to replicate the program’s model and share best practices. By expanding the program’s reach, more communities can benefit from permaculture education and information, sustainable urban farming practices, improving food security and promoting resilience.
Strengthening Partnerships: Continual collaboration with local organisations, government agencies and donors is essential to ensure the availability of necessary resources and support. Strengthening existing partnerships and establishing new ones will enhance the program’s capacity to overcome challenges related to resource constraints, access to inputs, and funding. This could be achieved through regular coordination meetings, joint fundraising efforts and knowledge-sharing platforms.
Training and Capacity Building: Continuous training and capacity-building programs for farmers and community members should be prioritised. These programs should focus on advanced permaculture techniques, composting, organic pest management, and soil conservation. Providing access to training resources, workshops, and mentoring will ensure that farmers have the necessary skills and knowledge to maintain productive and sustainable urban farms.
Education and Awareness: Continued efforts to raise awareness about the importance of sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation should be carried out. This could involve conducting educational campaigns in schools, organizing community events, and disseminating information through various media channels. By educating the broader community about the benefits and practices of permaculture, the program can encourage more individuals to adopt sustainable farming methods and contribute to a healthier and greener environment.
Monitoring and Evaluation: Implementing a robust monitoring and evaluation system is crucial for tracking the program’s progress, identifying areas for improvement, and measuring its impact. Regular assessments of the urban farms’ productivity, environmental sustainability, and community well-being will provide valuable feedback to inform program adjustments and ensure its long-term success.
The way forward
The way forward for the Rafiki Urban Farming program in Viwandani Informal Settlement involves a strategic approach to sustain and expand the program’s impact.
Consolidate and Strengthen Existing Farms: It is crucial to ensure the continued success and productivity of established urban farms. This involves providing ongoing support to farmers, including access to resources, technical guidance and mentorship. Regular monitoring and evaluation should be conducted to identify areas for improvement and provide targeted assistance where needed. By consolidating the existing farms, the program can maintain its sustainability and maximise its impact.
Expand the Program’s Reach: Building on the success achieved in Viwandani, the program should aim to expand its reach to other informal settlements within the region. This can be done by conducting community needs assessments and identifying potential partner organizations or community leaders who can champion the program in new locations. Engaging with local stakeholders and tailoring the program to meet the specific needs and challenges of each community will be crucial for successful replication and expansion.
Foster Knowledge Exchange and Networking: Creating platforms for knowledge exchange and networking among farmers, experts, and stakeholders is essential for continuous learning and innovation. This can be achieved through regular community meetings, workshops, and farmer-to-farmer exchanges. Encouraging the formation of networks or associations among urban farmers will facilitate the sharing of best practices, challenges, and solutions, fostering a supportive and collaborative environment.
Enhance Value Addition and Market Access: Exploring opportunities for value addition and market access can contribute to the economic sustainability of the program and the farmers involved. This can involve training farmers in post-harvest handling techniques, food processing, and marketing strategies. Collaborating with local markets, restaurants, or food cooperatives to establish direct links between farmers and consumers will ensure fair and sustainable trade relationships.
Secure Long-term Funding: Securing adequate and sustainable funding is crucial to sustain the program’s activities and ensure its long-term impact. The program should explore diverse funding sources, including government grants, corporate social responsibility initiatives, philanthropic organisations, and crowdfunding platforms. Developing a comprehensive fundraising strategy and cultivating partnerships with donors and investors who share the program’s vision will provide the financial stability needed to continue and expand the program
All contributions to the Permafund are warmly welcomed to support permaculture environmental and education projects in Australia and around the world. Gifts, regular tithes and donations to the Permafund over $2.00 are tax deductible in Australia and can be made here. Many thanks.
These reflections are my own of events that occurred in the lead up to the formation of the trading name ‘Permaculture Australia’. It’s intended as background information as we gather in Adelaide at Convergence that includes a really important AGM. Members of PA can elect 7 people to the Board…..people with passion, skills, commitment and the time available to project this organisation into the huge potential it has to represent the movement.”
“The survey conducted by the Amigo Troika ( Bruce Zell, Ian Lillington & myself) is now 13 years old and represents a moment in time. If conducted today….what would it look like? As we elect 7 Board members soon, maybe its time to ask the membership, ask the movement what they vision a Peak Body to do into the future ?”
Permaculture Australia’s Permafund team sends a huge thankyou to all of the people and organisations who donate to Permafund and fundraise to support its small grants program.
Because of this generosity and fundraising, the Permafund 2023 Grant Round was launched in November 2022 offering grants of AU $2,000.
A large number of applications were received from community organisations in Australia and overseas,
The Permafund assessment team is pleased to announce that grants have been awarded to these nine applicants to support their projects. The successful applicants are:
Anam Cara House, Colac- Australia
Using permaculture design a system of raised wicking garden beds will be constructed in the hospice grounds for healthy food production. Garden maintenance will provide a community activity and social experience for people with a chronic life limiting illness The fresh food produced will supply the hospice kitchen.
Aranya Agricultural Alternatives – India
Supporting indigenous seed varieties through Permaculture practices in Patha Sngapur tribal village, the project will promote and reintroduce indigenous seed varieties, seed saving, culinary traditions, seed sovereignty and seed freedom. It will also promote soil health through composting and Biochar.
Earthcare Permaculture- Ghana
This project in Adzokoe-Peki, Ghana, involves planting 500 coconut and citrus trees and installing a rainwater collection system for treecare and other community use. The project will help reduce soil erosion, provide food for the community and provide an income source for the youth who will be involved in the tree planting.
Farming & Health Organisation (FHE) – Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya
A Permaculture Design Course will be conducted by Farming and Health Education, in Kakuma refugee camp. Permaculture knowledge gained through the course will help to restore the environment and improve refugees’ nutrition and food security. The goal is to build the capacity and strengthen the development of the community in the camp.
Kajulu Hills Ecovillages – Kenya
Kajulu Hills Ecovillage residents intend to work with 20 grandmothers in the local district to establish intensive vegetable gardens, watered by a clay pot system. This project has become urgent as the effects of climate change are being greatly felt as crops are not receiving adequate rainfall and food shortage is already being felt by many. This project will benefit approximately 100 individuals from the households of the women and be a demonstration for the community.
Promotion of clay pots for grandmothers and physically challenged gardeners
Kitgum Permaculture Practitioners Assoc. – Uganda
Permaculture training for the deaf community will be provided by a specialist deaf teacher in Kitgum, Uganda. The project will benefit the community by sharing knowledge of permaculture and regenerative farming methods. Planting fruit trees and kitchen gardens will improve food security & economic independence in the deaf community by selling the surplus produced.
Mkulima Sasa Regenerative Agriculture (MSRA) – Kenya
The project in Siyaya, Kenya will train 50 people in Syntropic Agroforestry and assist the establishment of demonstration farms at two public schools and within the local area. Community members, school staff and pupils will all be involved in the project.
Rafiki Community Organisation- Kenya
Rafiki aims to empower and educate urban slum communities in Viwandani, Nairobi about urban farming techniques to boost food production and adapt to climate change. Rafiki’s urban farm, which demonstrates a simple and cheap way of farming in the slums, will be expanded to increase the supply of organic and affordable indigenous crops to the Viwandani residents. Rafiki will train community members in simple urban farming methods to increase yields from their small kitchen or home gardens and show how to utilise small vacant spaces in the area.
Union of Women for Rural and Community Development (UFEDERCO) – Democratic Republic Congo
Malnutrition in children is the main concern in the Uvira Rd. area of South Kivu in Democratic Republic Congo, so UFEDERCO’s project is to establish 6 school gardens within their community. The gardens will help to feed the school children and at the same time will be used to collect seeds to be distributed locally. Farmers from associations, schools and community groups will be selected by UFEDERCO to act as seed producers. They will be organised and trained to become professional seed farmers, able to meet the demand of local producers.
The Permafund thanks all of the 2023 grant round applicants and welcomes applications when the next grant round opens.
As grant recipient organisations send through their project updates and completion reports their stories are shared In Permafund News through Permaculture Australia’s website, newsletter and socials.
The response to this grant round has once again shown that globally there are so many community organisations seeking solutions for the multiple challenges they are facing, Those already with a permaculture qualifications are reaching out to Permafund for support so they can assist their communities with practical permaculture projects, sometimes in combination with teaching and demonstrating traditional, organic, syntropic and regenerative agriculture methods,
Some applicant organisations work with the most marginalised people in their community and they ask for down to earth help to improve food security to restore good health & livelihoods. Most organisations are keen to receive more information about permaculture to share with others of all ages and circumstances.
In the past 10 years Permafund grants have funded 73 projects in 17 countries including Australia, supporting a wide range of projects including environment restoration, reforestation, increased biodiversity, soil improvement, water management, permaculture education, renewable energy systems, regenerative agriculture, seed sovereignty, food security and adaptation for climate change.
Fundraising for Permafund’s next grant round is ongoing. If you may be planning an event or activity that could contribute funds to the Permafund that would be fabulous. Assistance and collaborations are most welcome so please contact us at email@example.com We’d love to hear from you.
Gifts to Permafund can be made here and are warmly welcomed. Amounts of $2.00 or more are tax deductible in Australia, Donations are shared with grateful grant recipients who put the funds to work in a wide variety of creative and effective projects.
Many would say Permaculture is simply about making beneficial connections…..in all sorts of ways. Here at Permafund we want to make a connection to International Permaculture Day. It’s a day each year to celebrate and promote the many and varied aspects of Permaculture to the wider community all over the world.
It’s always on the first Sunday of May and was the founder of the movement’s birthday, so is also an opportunity to honour Bill Mollison for his enormous contribution and vision.
Why not use this day to put on an event and raise funds for Permafund?
Permafund is the name of our 8-person volunteer group who manage Permaculture Australia’s tax deductible fund. We receive funds in the form of gifts and donations…..then we send them out to needy permaculture projects through small grant rounds. As a group we’ve been together for just over 10 years and in that time have funded 64 projects in 16 countries.
This is where we need your help. We need to raise more funds so more can be done. If you are a Permaculture group, a business or a caring individual, why not consider organising a fundraiser for Permafund for International Permaculture Day?
Here at Brogo Permaculture Gardens on the far south coast of NSW we have an Open Day with all proceeds to Permafund. We open our home and property to the public with guided tours, a cuppa and a delicious lemon muffin. There’s lots of good chat and information shared.
Tickets are $35 per adult with around 30 people coming to each tour which raises almost $1000 for Permafund. That’s half a $2,000 Permafund grant for a needy community project
Making connections again, celebrating Bill by giving your time to educate the public that then benefits a project is a Win! Win! Win scenario.
There are lots of creative ways to raise funds…..limited only by your imagination!
With this year’s International Permaculure Day being on Sunday May 7th, we have 3 and a half months to plan something…..please. We here at Permafund want to also make a connection and appeal to Permaculture Australia groups, businesses, members and the broad Permaculture Movement to do something beneficial together and assist those that need a hand. It sure would put a smile on Bill’s dial.
Applications are now closed for the 2023 Permafund grant round. Submissions have been received from organisations in Australia and countries around the world including The Philippines, Nepal, India, New Zealand, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Successful applicants will be informed in March 2023.
At this giving time of year, a gift to the Permafund will help support the many organisations who have applied for funds for their various projects. For example,
Permafund Chair John Champagne explains “We’ve received many more applications than we have funds available for which demonstrates the global need that Permaculture inspired projects constantly face.”
“We’ve started a conversation about privilege in and around permaculture circles lately and communities coming together to raise funds for Permafund offer us all an opportunity to assist those in greatest need and manifest our Third Ethic of Fair Share.”
Fundraisers such as open gardens and community events to support Permafund’s micro grant program are a wonderful help and are very much appreciated.
All gifts, tithes and donations made by individuals and businesses to the Permafund that are over $2 are tax deductible in Australia and are warmly welcomed.
Contributions to the Permafund can be madehere. Many thanks.
For more information and to share fundraising ideas for Permafund please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Panchayat Raj Movement (PRM) was founded in India in1989 by a group of youth activists with the vision to create a society where every human being can live in peace, harmony and respect with each other. They aim to connect various grassroots groups of different backgrounds to form an integrated community.
Over the course of 6 months two staff members from PRM, with the help of 15 volunteers, facilitated the training of 50 farmers from 10 different villages- Aiyavayal, Kurunchampatti, Shanthinipatti, Kadiyapatti, Veerakudi, Kangampatti, Perampur, Surundampatti, Muttampatti and Palaiyaveerakudi.
The initial session was held at the PRM Field Office run by Mrs. Vijaya, a local organic farmer, teaching permaculture skills with a focus on introducing mixed crops into agriculture, digging small ditches for rainwater harvesting, growing herbal plants to make pest repellents and compost making with agriculture waste and promoting perennial crops. The participants gained hands-on experience in making compost, natural pest repellents and setting up worm farms.
The development of better and more affordable pump systems has seen a steady increase in the groundwater consumption in the south of India. The ancient technique of digging ditches for rain water harvesting was demonstrated and is reviving the area immensely.
Other monoculture farmers have taken an interest in the project and have since experimented with more sustainable ways of mixed farming and natural fertilisation of their crops.
Now over 150 acres of land have been planted out using permaculture techniques. Soil and water conservation structures are being made and only organic inputs were used. 500 to 750kg of produce was harvested and up to 350 farmers in 10 villages are being made aware of permaculture techniques for land regeneration.
In addition to this, there was another training day offered by Mrs. Sumathi to teach 30 women how to value add to their millet products. Also, 5 seed banks were established over the course of the project. The monsoon rains were better than expected and allowed the farmers to earn an income from their farming activities. The project achieved its goal and created a larger impact than anticipated.
Fund-raising activities, donations, tithes and pledges to Permaculture Australia’s Permafund are warmly welcomed and are supporting community projects like this in Australia, Asia, Africa and the Pacific. One off or recurring tax-deductible donations to Permafund can be made here. Many thanks.