Permaculture training for refugee community

Lead trainer Charles Mugarura reports on a successful, participative program focused on peer to peer permaculture learning

Last November our partner organisation BEU Permaculture held a permaculture design course at Nakivale refugee camp, (Insingiro district, south west Uganda). Facilitators Erias Ngobi and Lawrence Emmaddu (Dolen Ffermio trained), and John Bosco Bazimane (BEU Permaculture) taught 35 participants from over six nationalities how to design land for permaculture.

There are almost 1.5 million refugees and asylum seekers in Uganda, a huge amount comparable to the size of the country. Nakivale camp was established in 1958, and is the eighth largest in the world, 138,460 people according to UNHCR.

Uganda is said to have one of the most progressive refugee policies in the world. Refugees are given land to build a shelter and grow food, however, it still has its immense challenges.

Although refugees are provided with a very small plot of land, the lack of enough land for settlement means permaculture remains a necessity and a practical tool for growing food.

“Climate change has made weather patterns unpredictable… Through permaculture, all that can be solved”

Baziwana John Bosco, BEU Permaculture

The permaculture design course created the possibility of peer to peer learning, where the participants are able to pass on their learnings after the course – meaning more sustainable food for many more people.

“As they say ‘if you educate a woman, you educate society'”

“We spend so much time discussing policies while millions go to bed hungry. We need to move beyond policies on paper to action on the ground.”

“[The training] will help me to make sure that everyone in my community has access to nutritious food especially amidst the COVID19 pandemic.”

Sonia Muyisa, 14 year’s old, senior student at Shuuku Vocational Secondary School

Permaculture is proving to be an invaluable way of growing nutritious food on a small plot.

“Permaculture is the best use of
land so that generations in the future can continue
to make use of the land in productive manners”

Emmaddu Lawrence, Facilitator

The main aim of the training course in Nakivale was to increase agricultural production and incomes through the promotion of permaculture.

The programme has helped the participants from countries such as Somalia, D.C.R, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda to tackle the remaining challenges in the refugee communities, including food security, deforestation and lack of enough land for settlement. Permaculture enables them to create their own ecological approaches to agriculture, which are more resilient to the stresses of climate change.

Despite certain challenges such as the variety of languages, lead facilitator Charles Mugarura (founder of BEU Permaculture) looks back on a successful course. “I am happy to have been given the chance to lead the training team and it has given me the chance to learn many lessons.”