12th April 2024

A permaculture story

Evaluation visit to permaculture students, Teso Uganda


In 2014, members of Dolen Ffermio (Farmers link) charity, based in Wales, planned a study tour of Uganda to visit projects they were linked with and build relationships with new members. Myself, a permaculture tutor, and Grace Maycock, a horticulture student, were invited on the trip.

This led to S39 running a full PDC in May 2016 in Kamuli for many of the members of the Dolen Ffermio network. We advertised the PDC on Facebook, which also connected us with students from Kenya and beyond. A team of 6 people from Wales led on teh 2016 and 2017 PDC courses.

Much was learned on this first course, and we returned in 2017 with support from the Wales for Africa program to repeat the course. This time it was for a much larger group, and we connected with a younger audience already interested in permaculture, which catalyzed wider interest.

Our long-term goal was to support the development of indigenous Ugandan and Kenyan teachers, so we returned in 2018 to run a bigger course. Many of the sessions were led by graduates from the previous two courses.

At the same time, we built links with Norwegian Refugee Council, which was interested in trialing permaculture in some of the vast refugee settlements in West Nile, northern Uganda. We ran a six-month training for 40 pioneers, and they each went on to train three families from their own communities.

In 2020, S39 received three years of seed funding to develop regional hubs for permaculture. We worked with the most active students in Homa Bay, Kenya, Southern District in Rwanda, and Teso in Uganda to achieve this. This website documents our experience supporting these pioneer groups, understanding their methodologies and outcomes, and supporting key people to build on their achievements. We ran follow-up PDCs in these three locations, using a mixture of in-person and online learning.

Both Steve and Stella have done follow-up visits to all of the members, as well as Grace and Gerald Jagwe to some of them. It has been a huge learning experience for all of us, and we are now considering our next steps.

Interview with Stella Amuge, her permaculture journey

7:07 – steven jones
Okay, so we’re going to do an interview now about, we want to help tell a story about permaculture and we’re doing this on request of the Permaculture Association and a little bit of funding that we’ve had from the, I think it was the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. So let’s go back to 2020.

7:38 – steven jones
And how did you first hear about Sector 39 and what led you to reach out to us?

Thank you so much. My name is Stella from Uganda. My first time to hear about permaculture was from a friend called Akelo Vicki. But I didn’t know so much what permaculture was about. But to me, what I wanted to do was I wanted a place to do my internship. I wanted an organization that could host me to do my internship in their place of work. Being a person with a background research, I felt I could contribute to the host organization that would take me in the research desk. So she told me, let me give you a contact information of our director for sector 39 and you never know, he could give you space to do your internship.

I said, thank you. So when she gave me the email address of Steve Jones, right away I sent an email and I asked for a place of internship. Through that email. So I remember I was asked to send my details from the university and the letter from the university, if it was there, that is requesting me to do internship, which I did submit. It was a stamp from the university. So within three days, I got a feedback and it was a yes. So I was extremely very happy and lucky to get my internship place within a short time.

Meanwhile, other students took time to look for places of internship. To me, it wasn’t about the size of organization, but it was about, can I do something? Can I put into practice the skills that I have gotten at school? So when sector 39 said yes for me, the first assignment I was given was to collect data from some refugees who had done permaculture in 2017, and that was to support one of the students who was in the UK. Somebody called Andy, Andy somebody. She was doing her master’s, I think.

Or PhD in the UK. And she wanted some information from the refugees and it was about permaculture. So I started asking myself, what is this whole thing about permaculture that I really don’t know about? So after me doing that interview with the refugees, I sent the feedback through my host director, that is Steve Jones, and he got the feedback in time. I sent him the information from that. So immediately, After a week, there was an online training about permaculture with some people from Trash Fold Farm, something of the kind in the UK.

Yeah, so I was given a chance to attend that training online and I would always commit in a day It was every Thursday. So I would commit myself to attend that training. So that is when now I came to know what permaculture is really talking about, but I was still not so much like satisfied with what I was getting because certain things needed a practical bit of it. But being virtual, I was here in Uganda and other people are learning while at the farm, they’re in the site. So when they talk over principles, they are already observing and interact.

So for them, they were seeing. For me, I didn’t know what is observe and interact even, but I would hear in theory. So the training got done. But I had picked something. So after something like a month, yes, that was in July, I get a message again from my director, that is Steve Jones, about the funding that Accleton Trust had given Sector conduct 39 a PDC in Kumi. In Rwanda, and then we were also supposed to have a training in Kenya, Homa Bay. But that training did not only, that funding did not only help that, it helped us another team of Ramadan, that is a Bugiri team.

So when I got that information, the task I was given was to go and do monitoring and evaluation. During the project which was to come in September.

13:31 – steven jones
So let’s just add a little bit of information just to fill out the story. We had done some training in Kamuli in 2016 2017 and in 2018 been in somewhere else. But that a network had grown, a sort of a regional cluster of people interested in permaculture had started there in Teso, near, in the Kumuli area, sorry, Kumi area. And the Arkleton Trust was encouraging us to develop a regional sort of hub or cluster. And the idea was to run a full PDC and to host it with the Happy Home, with the Korean charity that runs that project.

14:23 – steven jones
And also, this was the time of COVID, so it got a bit complicated, didn’t it? But we were able to send a team of people there, and you went there in your role really as an observer, and also to take part in the course yourself. So tell us a bit about that experience, how that PDC was in September 2020 and what your impression was about permaculture and also about how the people on the course received that information.

Okay, first of all, as I said earlier on, when I got the message about me going to Kumi and do monitoring and evaluation, I embraced it very well because first of all, it was a chance for me now to attend a PDC physically. Having had a chance to attend to it virtually online. So it was really a chance to me, which I did. I went there with a team of Eupo team, that is Eastern Uganda permaculture organization. Yes, and the host place was Happy Home, that is being led by a Korean lady, Madam Joy.

So we had students, different parts of Kumi and Ngora. And none of them was actually connected to each other in any way. These people were separate. Each one was living alone. No one knows the other. So this helped them to convict together and connect. And so on. So the EUPO team had already trained some of these people initially, but this time they wanted to have this full PDC of the training. So personally, I benefited from the training because it was hands-on skill. Much as I also went to do my internship, but I also added some knowledge on myself.

So the students picked up this knowledge and the mode of training was practical and we also gave them chance to do their project proposals. And then they went back home with their work plan. And we checked on them as a follow-up session because it was part of the package. So we visited each student in their home to see if they have implemented the work plan that they had written during class time.

17:22 – Unidentified Speaker
And indeed, they had implemented their work.

So after three months, that was around January, Yeah, that was around January. We had a visit to these students to see how far have they gone with what they learned from class as the first trainees. But to my surprise, a certain section of students had already made an extra mile by teaching other people around them. On what to do. Because when they went to their communities, each of them displayed different things that people had never seen before. For example, there is someone who was called Mr. Etchart. As he was digging these double dig gardens, someone said, this man is a witch. He’s digging two graves for him and his wife. And they were dug just next to the road where someone can easily see, they were visible. So whoever would pass would see and they would ask what is really going on with this man, but that did not stop him from doing what he wanted because he knew it was something very important for him to do. When I went to his home, I got to see the Gardens, and he had put…

The first time I went, there was nothing inside, he was still preparing them. That was his work plan, to go and do double dig raised bed Gardens. And then he did swales, he planted vetiver, he had already made his compost, the compost heap,


Yeah, so he had already planted. Ginger in that garden, and he was preparing the next one to plant again, tumeric, something of the kind. A lot of things had changed in his compound. I got here, he had eaten tomatoes all over those three months that I was absent. He had already eaten his tomatoes and, you know, a lot of things, his sukumawiki, a lot of green vegetables put around the compound.

20:59 – steven jones
So we can be clear that these were significant behavioural changes that the students were doing. These were things they weren’t doing before.

Exactly. So to them, it was something they were so eager to put into practice because immediately after class, they went into it. Yes. So Deborah Aluka, she was one of the students who was trained. When we were in for the evaluation, I asked Aloka, what is your plan? As a student, you are here now as a student, what is your future plan after here? Deborah Luka told me she’s interested in becoming a permaculture teacher. I asked Mr. Okorod and Patrick the same question, and he was also interested in doing teaching of permaculture.

So when I did the follow-up, indeed, they did exactly as they said. Deborah Aluka had already influenced over 400 households in her village.
First of all, constructing Lorena Stoves.

I visited some homes, a sample of homes, not all of them, but you could see even in the distance that at least each home had sack gardens. Something happening within the village.

22:34 – steven jones
There were certain sort of techniques, if you like, that people saw them and they wanted to replicate those and copy them. Do you think the understanding of permaculture, the wider understanding, went along with the techniques or they just thought that permaculture was sack gardens and lorena stoves and compost heaps?

The trained team had gotten the concept. Yeah.

23:01 – steven jones
The trained team that we trained in Happy Home had gotten the concept, what is permaculture?

How do you think? It was about the thinking, how you do your things, how to handle life and everything. But these other people outside, whom they trained on job, did not really understand the real concept. For them, it was all about, how do I help myself very fast?

23:29 – steven jones
To them, they would look at, what are we doing today?

Oh, we are going to dig a swale. And they would also go to their homes and dig it. They would see from maybe Deborah’s home, they’re saying produce no wastes. Deborah had trousers, all the trousers having green vegetables on them.

23:50 – steven jones
And then T-shirts, socks.

pots, broken vessels, and so on. So even the neighbors went and did the same. So it sort of helped them to conserve the environment. It was eco-friendly. But for them, they didn’t have a deeper understanding like Deborah would have, or the other people who were trained. So, after that training, after the visits, it was…

24:22 – Multiple Speakers
This was in sort of January, February 2021, wasn’t it?

24:26 – steven jones
So, a few months after their initial training.

Yes, yes. So, we had another lockdown. We gave students time to do their work again as we continued monitoring them. So, COVID came. And there was no movement. Everyone was locked. But surprisingly, the president had said, no one is allowed to move in the country. No one is allowed to move anywhere. You have to stay where you are. But sector was privileged to move. I moved with a colleague called Joseph. Were on a motorcycle, and they were not allowing people to be two on a motorcycle.

If you are one, you should be one. But if you’re going to the center to buy food for yourself, for your family, but there was nothing like you’re carrying someone somewhere unless you’re going to the hospital. I remember vividly that afternoon, I went to take the seeds. Sector 39 had thought of how to support their students during the COVID-19 period because it was really so hot and they were not allowing them to move anywhere. They could not access the farm tools. They couldn’t access food.

Buying food was expensive. Getting seeds was hard. And actually all the things concerning life were difficult. So I managed to go to Kumi through the help of Sector 39. And we had bought hoes. We had bought a fox bed for turning compost. We had gumboots. We had seeds. And We had identification tools. For example, I had overalls that were to be given to all these people who were trainers. So personally, I was on an overall and I was having a mask. We also provided masks, sector 39 printed masks from Kampala.

27:00 – steven jones
Do you think that was important that the reinforcement of with things like the T-shirts and the hats and to build a sense of belonging? I mean, that seemed to be something that was quite important for the members.

Yes, as I said, during that time, it was really difficult to identify who was who, and everyone was supposed to observe the SOPs, but Section it 39 as an initiative to make masks for their trainers and some of the participants who were accessible. So the participants whom we reached their homes actually. So we printed the t-shirts, we printed the caps, we printed the overalls. All of them had a mark of Sector 39. And someone would ask, what is Sector 39 about? It was to identify the organization.

I remember that afternoon when we took the seeds, tomorrow, on our way back, we got intercepted on the way. The police car was standing in the middle of the road, and they had arrested a lot of motorcycles. And they were asking us, who told you to move? That was the question. Where are you from and where are you going? So being on an oval, which had an identity, which had a badge. I had also a mask, which had a badge. Joseph was also on the overall and his mask, all of us were identified. So we didn’t fear, we went to them, we told them, we are from giving seats, farm tools, some gumboots, to some of our trainees within the villages so that they can help themselves within the village to train people during this trying moment because they will not be allowed to move from one place to the other.

In one way, we are trying to stop the spread of COVID-19 because if Deborah is able to train people within her community, within her village. She has a mask on herself, she has an overall, she has gumboots, and she’s able to move within the village only, meaning that no outsider would come in to bring COVID-19 to that village. So it was really a yes for Sector 39.

29:39 – steven jones
So we were kind of fortunate that the police could see the logic of what you were doing. That you were reinforcing this and you were enabling them to continue by providing the masks and so forth. Exactly, exactly.

29:55 – Multiple Speakers
So Section 39 done in fact three quarters of what they were supposed to do, okay, in those areas.

So it was beneficial not only to the people of Ngora and Kumi, all the trainees, but also to the government, to the Minister of Health, because by curbing the spread of COVID-19, these people were able to survive during that

30:22 – Unidentified Speaker

They were able to produce food within home without going to the market and get mixed up with other people.

30:31 – steven jones
Okay, okay, so let me now ask a couple more questions, which is, so here we are now in 2024, it’s three and a half years now since that training was given at Happy Home and you’ve just recently been back to Kumi and you’ve met with the members and they’ve formed their own regional group which they’ve called TAPA. Do you want to just say a bit about your impressions this time about what’s been the longer term impact then from this training and And yeah, let’s just think about that now. And what were your impressions?

31:09 – steven jones
And what did you see that’s actually happened? What changes did you notice when you went there?

Thank you so much. I will start with the students, though the change did not only happen to students, it was even me as a human being. Yes.

31:26 – steven jones
Well, tell us about that too.

Yeah, to start with the students, when I went back to Kumi this time, Actually, I’ve gone back to Kumi now something like three to four times or five then, you know, several times I’ve visited them. So, when I went back, I realized there was a behavioral change, because when I interacted with Patrick Okodan, he told me, I asked him, who are these people you are training? Because I was interested in finding out the work these people do. Whom it rains. And most of them, surprisingly, were young people of age 16, 17, 18, you know, those are the young people.

But most of them were engaged in taking drugs, you know, there was so much involved in drug abuse. That they were criminals in the community, stealing people’s things, raping people’s women on the way. They were doing wrong things under the influence of this drug abuse, taking a lot of alcohol all the time, being redundant in the centers, playing cards, and so on. So when Okoda and Patrick got this information, he went back to his community. Even dry season, Okoda and Patrick could go deep down in the swamp where there is water, and they would raise beds there with these students and have these green vegetables planted, of which they did the sales together with these students.

At the end of the day, the rate of drug abuse reduced. So we had behavioral change. The rate of criminal cases reduced in that area. Most of the parents were happy that at least now their children stay home, doing a lot of productive work, other than just playing games, you know, in the sand, and so on. That was for the side of Okoda and Patrick. There was economic change, because most of these kids selling their food crops, went in surplus. They would sell some of them so that they don’t get spoiled.

And they would get some money for those to help them pay the school fees and so on for other people. So it is something else that is really something very important for them. So after the training, there was also there was something like a savings group. These people had started savings in groups. They would convert together, have savings together. It was something that helped them stay together as a team so that they don’t really, as permaculture says, you integrate. So there was a lot of integration.

But we shouldn’t underestimate the power Nutrition improvement in these communities because of having enough food planted even during dry season. Normally in Teso, dry season is really dry season. It’s extremely hot and you cannot see anything green. But after this training, these students were able to supply green vegetables to the hotels around, to their homes, to the communities around. People would come and buy in their homes. Okoda and Patrick could even supply passion fruits to Kumi Hotel.

You know? I think we also took some of that juice sometime back.

35:16 – steven jones
Yes, yes, yes.

We bought it unknowingly, it was from Okoda and Patrick. Yeah, it was from our student and that was really something that made me happy. So the nutrition status of those people changed. It wasn’t as it used to be before. The sicknesses reduced because most people were there eating all the time meat, you know, they don’t know that. It is important to have green vegetables at home. So for them, they thought it is good life to eat meat. So when they started developing issues like gross losses and so on, so having green vegetables around sort of reversed that.

But at the same time, when I went back this time, A group had developed, one of the students called Deborah Aluka developed a group. She started training farmers, first of all, within her community. Before we knew, she trained some parents, the parents of Vienna Primary School within Ngora, she trained them and parents would turn up in big numbers, 60, 90, you know. Different days, and she would train all of them. So it was up to each parent now to go back home and do all those things.

And of course, you know, it is hard reaching all those parents to evaluate them. It becomes difficult. It is resource straining. But Deborah could convert all of them and train them in one place. But not only that, she still went ahead and developed a group called TAPA. You know, TESOL advanced permaculture session. And as I speak right now, TAPA is having a committee. They are a registered entity that provides permaculture trainings within TESOL region and also goes outside once they are called.

Deborah even came to my mother’s place to help my mother do some things. Yes. And it was not only my mother who benefited. She also called a lot of people around, 25 young people came around, you know, and they were all trained together. You know, that was something very good. Like for four days. Yeah. That was something interesting. And they still want to go back and do something because four days was not enough. That was just, As I speak right now, we have Tapa, which is not for only one village.

Tapa is having a team from Serere, then there are five other teams again within Mora.

38:28 – steven jones
So we can say that the TAPA group was the first local group to form, and then five more regional groups have come after TAPA, is that correct?

Exactly, now each of these TAPA members a point to go and establish a training team within their villages.

38:57 – steven jones
Do we have any sense of how many members there are in each of these regional groups? Like how many members in Tapa? How many members are there in Serele or in these other places? Do we have a sense of that?

Okay, as we speak right now, Serore does not have really a very big number, but according to the other day when I was there, there were about 20 members who were trained but they didn’t get a full training, okay? Yeah, they didn’t get a full training. What they had was just an example from some students who had moved from Ngora, from Serere to Ngora to go and train at Deborah’s place. So when they came home, when they were doing their things, their neighbors also came in. To look into and start practicing with them together.

But they really want to have a a session where the group goes fully, then camp in Serere to train those people like for one week before coming back. But most of the trainings have been done within Onuryana, within Okoboi, within, I’m forgetting the name of the chairman’s place. And then there is someone called Simon, and then at Samuel’s place also there is a training center there. So Simon and Samuel share the same training center. For them, they converge all their village members.

The statistics is not really fully established because today maybe 50 will come, tomorrow 40 will come, next week will come. Before you know, maybe because of one reason or the other, they all shift first of all to Omuryana to support the Omuryana team, that is Isaac. Isaac also has a team there and For them, it is about the community. It is not about the numbers. Sure.

41:15 – steven jones
OK, I get it. Yeah.

Whoever comes, they pray. Yeah.

41:19 – steven jones
For us, from the point of view of evaluation, we always want numbers. We want to know how many people. But I understand that it’s really it’s different from that. And it’s it’s a very organic kind of process. And the feedback that we’ve had through you and hearing the voices from Deborah and these members is that they would all like to have the opportunity for more training and We talked a bit earlier that maybe it might be nice to go back to plan now to come back and offer a full PDC in the district.

42:02 – steven jones
But I’m wondering how we might do that in a way in which we can reach you know, a really good spread. And we also understand that it’s very easy to create jealousies and little imbalances if we favor one person over another, even if that’s just happening by accident. So I think my final sort of questions are about, we’ve experienced a lot, we’ve come quite a long way and we’re with you, it’s three and a half years coming up to four years now. And I thank you very, very much for being.

42:38 – steven jones
Consistent and reliable over that time. And it’s been really wonderful to see you develop as well, Stella. And I think our challenge is to understand what we’ve been through and to think about how we’re now going to build on it. So interested to know any thoughts that you have about what we should be aspiring to if we were able to perhaps raise funding to come and do a really good training again. What kind of thoughts do you have on that? And what lessons do you think that we’ve learned?

43:12 – steven jones
And what lessons have we failed to learn? And, you know, the things that we’ve not paid attention to. So interested to hear your thoughts on that.

Thank you so much. Earlier on, I had hinted that that training of Happy Home did not only benefit the students. I told you that benefited even me as an individual and I would really be so happy to share about my personal experience on the permaculture journey that I learned. First of all, I should say thank you for the opportunity and I should acknowledge all the people who have supported me during this journey. Steve Jones, you supported me so much. Before I know you connected me to Morag Gambo, and she sent me to Kenya to do an evaluation for her.

That is at Kakamega. And then, before I know, I get connected to Robin Williamson, rest in peace. She passed on last year. Early December, yeah. So, which gave me also a chance to go to Natchi Valley to to meet the refugees. So I should say that my journey on permaculture has really opened up my mind and has given me a different kind of thinking on how to approach certain things. First of all, let’s start with personal life. After the permaculture training, I realized that there are certain things that we can do as individuals on our own to help ourselves without telling another person to help you.

Okay. So meaning that the permaculture thinking helped me in regenerating my thinking capacity. Like I should be able to think alone the way a plant can grow after you removing one leaf, another leaf sprouts. So that is the way permaculture has made me think. I don’t have to sit down. I should always be thinking in whatever I am doing. After that permaculture training, I sat myself down and asked, A lot of things are happening in the world. A lot of money has been put into projects. A lot of money has been stolen in the name of responding to certain issues.

And yet, here is permaculture, which is training us to use small and slow solutions to solve problems, however big they are. So when I look deep into that, I was just a student of Development Studies, that is in Makerere University. After my graduation, in fact, Sector 39 me, okay? Sector me during my graduation and registration, I should acknowledge that. There was a sense of people’s care. I realized there was a sense of people’s care as one of the principles I was cared for. As if that is not enough, they also exercised fair share, you know, much as you’re a student, but you also have other problems that affect you.

So Sector 39 with me as a student and helped me with the clearance of my registration, and I was able to graduate. With the help of the permaculture, I got exposed. These people sent me to different places, as I said earlier on. So I looked at myself, I was like, I need to go ahead with education. What should I do? I want to do something in my career. So when I looked at the courses at the university, trust me, it was permaculture that influenced me to do my current course. I am doing masters public health disaster management.

And it was purely about implementing permaculture principles. Nothing beyond that. If you follow anything that permaculture does, meaning you’re able to be a good disaster manager, you can solve any issue in your community, not only a disaster manager. In fact, I would recommend anyone working with the UN, anyone working with any response in the world, be it UNHCR, be it IG Council, be it World Vision, be it AVSI, whichever organization working with humanity in the world, I would recommend them to have their workers go through a permaculture design course.

Because it would help them open up their mind. I would imagine myself being that manager seated in the office, but I do not know how the food being supplied in the refugee camps is grown. I don’t know whether you’ve ever thought of that. There are people who don’t know that milk comes from a cow. But they don’t know that cheese comes from the milk, but they eat cheese. So I wanted to be that disaster manager. That is oriented in practical things. Even if I’m seated in this office, I know her.

These refugees need food within two weeks, so what do I need to help them with? Much as food from UN is delaying to come, I should be able to help them with the seeds. As a way of growing their own crops so that they can be eaten, to supplement on what we shall give as the UN. That is what came into my mind. So I was like, wow, I think I’m in the right place. So it influenced me to do the current course that I am doing. And Sector 39 has supported me in this journey as well. I shouldn’t underestimate that it is something that we are doing together as a team.

My own vision, I am thinking of how do I contribute to sector 39 and how do I contribute to the community around me? One, I talked to Deborah. I remember telling you that Mora gave me some money in the village, and Deborah went there. I remember communicating that to you. Yeah, so I shouldn’t just be eating from here while people in the village don’t know what is going on, you know? And they’re just hearing, oh, she has gone to Kenya, she’s doing permaculture. But what about in my own home?

What am I doing? Is there anything, you know? Yeah. So my plan is that I need to have a hub as an individual in time to come. I want to have a training hub for permaculture. By the same time, I do support sector 39 as an organization to do monitoring and evaluation. That is a way of giving back to the organization because they have really moved with me a long way. They have never left me behind. We have always moved as a team. Currently, we are planning to have a training for nutrition, the nutritionist, those are the nurses, working in Ajumani district within the refugee camps.

Through reaching them, they would reach the refugees in the camp.

52:01 – steven jones
I mean, I think this is a really important point, is that Uganda has welcomed very many refugees into the country, from South Sudan, from Congo, from Rwanda, from Ethiopia, from many places. I mean, I think there’s eight, nine, 10 countries represented in Nacivale.

Okay, I should say, statistically, Uganda is the largest, it’s the biggest refugee host country in Africa. Right, okay.

52:37 – steven jones
Worldwide, it is the third largest country. Number three in the world, wow. So these are very, very important things to be talking about. Like there’s a very large populations of very vulnerable people. And what you learn, what you see in the refugee settlements is lots of non-local resources being brought to them. And the realization that they have to generate much of what they need from within. And permaculture can kind of give us a way to do that.

Exactly, exactly. We have 15 million refugees in Uganda. 15 million plus. No way.

53:22 – Multiple Speakers
Yes. 15 million.

15 million plus refugees. Currently we are still having an influx from South Sudan and they are not yet being counted. The 15 million we are talking about is the previous statistics. So we hope to go beyond that.

53:41 – Multiple Speakers
So it’s growing. So that’s a nation within a nation.


53:45 – steven jones
You have a nation of refugees, of displaced people. And, you know, with climate change, with resource depletion, you know, this is going to be the human experience is relocation, it’s going to be much more common.

54:03 – Unidentified Speaker

54:03 – steven jones
And so within the context of your studies about disaster relief, I think these incredibly important ideas that your insights that you’re gaining and you’re sharing with us.

54:15 – Unidentified Speaker

At Jumani alone, the host community is the same number with the refugees.

54:24 – steven jones
They are having the same number.

Both of them are Now, you cannot separate the host community from the refugees. You can’t. Meaning, anything that the host communities are doing, the refugees also need to do if they need to cope up with the current life. Economically, Most of these people are not doing well and UNHCR report shows that most of the rural refugees are economically unstable.

54:59 – steven jones
Now, how can we help?

these people within a short time to help themselves as well, because we want to look at personal development. We want to look at a sustainable way of life for these people. Yes, we say that food is being supplied to them, but as we speak, the funding is getting smaller each and every time. The donor community is also facing challenges getting money right now because economy everywhere is hard, it’s not only in Uganda. Now, if we did, if we brought permaculture on board, me, I say Uganda itself needs permaculture fully in every part of the country because even without the refugees alone, we are facing issues.

We have good climate, yes, but we do not have enough knowledge on how to do our own things. So meaning we need help. We need someone to put us right.

56:11 – steven jones
And we know, because of your feedback and evaluation, all of the students, the people working with permaculture, They ask us always for the same things, which is they want seeds, they want tools, they want gumboots, overalls, they want the work clothes, and also that they need some transport for them, and they would all like to see, to learn more, and to see more examples. Is that correct? That’s what I hear.

Exactly, it is true, because first of all, I want to give an example of, let’s say, Kenya, because Sector not worked only in Uganda, it has worked in Kenya, it is working even in Rwanda as we speak, in Ntari.

57:13 – Unidentified Speaker
Tilling a place in Homa Bay is very difficult.

You cannot do tilling. So these people needed a technology to help them do tilling within that area because the place is stony. There are stones all over. I was impressed when Ramadan took some students to Kenya. For a tour at Homa Bay and the experience they had was to go to that place where exactly I went and they were supposed first of all to collect stones from the garden and then begin digging. And this is specific young girl studying in primary six. I remember she said she wants to become a permaculture teacher.

This young girl tells me, I was surprised to see people growing crops, growing skumawiki in a place that has a lot of stones. So I asked her. What exactly did you see? She told me, every place can produce food if only you have the knowledge on how to do something in it. That was really something significant that one can learn, okay? Now, when we talk about seeds and so on, everybody thinks seeds have to be bought all the time. But because of the permaculture trainings we have had now, Apart from the new entrants, a majority of them now are doing seed saving and seed switching.

And it is the habit that we are encouraging now for each and every member. However, some crops don’t do well in some areas. That’s when they will require a new type of crops or seed to be put in that place. And as I said, some farm tools work in some place compared to others. Like in that stony area, you need a fork hook. But when you go to Ngora, you just need a normal hoe and you can do it. Yes, they need gumboots because of the health status of the soils that we have. I’ve got some worms that are there that can easily penetrate to human body and can cause sickness like from the gardens and so on, because of the current diseases that our animals are having.

They have their remains, the worms are within there, and if human beings go and step on that, they can easily get a disease. So that’s why we provide them with gumboots. But of course also they need identification. You cannot go and walk to a place without someone knowing who is this. Someone needs an identity. That’s why we give them some of the t-shirts and caps, masks. Of roles, something it fires as a training team, you know?

1:00:23 – Unidentified Speaker

But also we have a big challenge of water supplies in Teso subregion. Let me say generally in Uganda, when the water is there, water is there, the rain has rained, it is too much, but we do not have water harvesting techniques. So people need that, need to be helped on how to do that. And that’s why they’re asking for a PDC seriously, because they think there is something they can do, but they don’t know how to do it.

1:00:59 – steven jones
Some of the biggest permaculture projects in the world are in semi-arid parts of India. And they have some traditional systems that they used to use. And then in the modern era, they used pumps and boreholes. And now they realized they have to find these traditional ways of water harvesting and water management. And that involves big decision making across many multiple communities because So yeah, so that’s a very important point that you’re making and hopefully something we can bring into, you know, a future training.

1:01:53 – steven jones
So I’d like us to look forward to that really. Okay, this is great. We’ve done an hour, I think we’ve done about an hour. What would you like to add? What other sort of big lessons has it been for you? Or, I don’t know, some closing thoughts.

A big lesson for me is that permaculture is an approach That needs to be taken positively by all stakeholders. It is not only sector 39, it is not only the permaculture association, but we need everyone to come on board. People like organizations like UNHCR should recognize this. NRC did the training and they saw the importance and they are still using that knowledge up to now. We are yet to go to Ajumani to understand how the training in 2017 benefited these people. But on a preliminary message I can tell you is this, we have Abale in Ajumani, he shared with me his beehives.

He innovated himself using tires, like old tires, he turned them to beehives and he put in a place where he can get good honey. The honey of Abale is consumed, first of all, locally within his area before going there. You know, and I believe this is something that we all need to embrace. I would say all the organizations looking at livelihood projects should look deep into adopting permaculture as part of their trainings for most of the project implementers. It is the knowledge that everyone should have, not only for the organization, but for their personal use as well, as an individual.

You cannot be waiting to go to the garden, to the center to buy green vegetables every time. You can’t be waiting for a company to come and collect your garbage. You know, and take it somewhere. But you can use it to make your own compost and put it in your garden behind your house. Something that you can. So to me, permaculture is not designed for a specific person. It’s not designed for only refugees. It’s not designed for poor people only. Permaculture is designed for everyone. It is a thinking approach that helps everyone rethink regenerate, you know, that’s what I can say.

Yeah, thank you so much. And to the young people, I should say, young people should really embrace permaculture as a personal initiative, because a child cannot be going to see like a certain type of crops in the zoo. Certain type of trees, you have to go to the zoo, pay money so as to go and see that. But a child can plant right now his own tree, her tree. In the future, his or her own children can come and see in their own compound. Because with the rate of duplication of species right now, soon we are going to have some species being seen with price on top of it.

1:05:47 – steven jones
That’s what I can say. Thank you so much.

OK, Stella, thank you very much for that. That’s really, really good.

1:05:55 – steven jones
And it gives us lots to think about. And we can share this with Maria at the Permaculture Association. So I thank you very much for your time. And I’m going to end it here. And yeah, thank you very much.

Thank you. Thank you.