Case Studies

In this section we collect and present known cases where permaculture has been applied more or less successfully in refugee camps or other situations  involving refugees where good planning has made a difference for all parts involved, hoping to show evidence that similar undertakings can be realized in a more programmatic and structured way as well as showing what can be learned from them that can be of value in future similar endeavors. If you are aware of other cases, please let us know.

Cegrane refugee camp, Macedonia 2000 ” The case of the Cegrane refugee camp is probably on of the firsts where permaculture design has been applied to the whole camp. The website linked in the title is quite informative on what happened there. Here follows an excerpt of the project outcomes.

[…] The trip highlighted how much energy is focused on the emergency component of such situations, and how fast the money dries up afterwards. Full life-cycle planning for refugee facilities is the ideal – where environmentally stable designs are integrated with facilities that can be easily reused after the crisis. The foundation for such an approach is considering the landscape right from the start. Had the Cegrane campsite, for example, integrated swales from the beginning, much time, money, and misery would have been saved. Other important issues identified were solid and human waste disposal for countries that generally had no effective disposal/treatment systems in place. […]”

The Role of relevant education: Site2 Cambodia

This Refugee Camp was the largest refugee camp on the Thai-Cambodian border and, for several years, the largest refugee camp in Southeast Asia. It was established in January 1985 during the 1984-1985 Vietnamese dry-season offensive against guerrilla forces opposing Vietnam’s occupation of Cambodia.[1]Site Two was closed in mid-1993 and the great majority of its population voluntarily returned to Cambodia.[2]   This camp was far from perfect however one of its goals was a high focus on Education to either skill refugees to move on, or, equip them to return to Cambodia when peace was made.   The new government of Cambodia and staff from NGOs received the majority of trained staff from in this camp. They learned practical skills in health, English language, government and multitude of other strategies.   This was vital in rebuilding a demolished country.

Filippias Camp, Greece. “…in the valley, right by a river, and the people are living in UNHCR tents (about 350-400 people). This is going to be a permanent camp, apparently  because whenever people leave other people will be moved in. There is a mosque, a barber, a tea-tent, a “female-friendly space” where no men are allowed, so women can feel safer and take off their scarves etc, a play-and-meeting area for children and teenagers, and an “illegal”, but frequently used) passageway to the river. Quite a lot of tents had little private gardens set up outside, with tomatoes, corn, watermelons, cabbages, parsley and marigolds! The food provided by the Greek army) is awful and totally inappropriate, so a lot of people cook on open fires or types of rocket stoves – which is “not allowed” for health and safety reasons (of course! but people have to eat!)”

Riace, Calabria (Italy), , a small rural village lost in the middle of Calabria in southern Italy, was destined for obscurity due to a massive exodus of its inhabitants. Today, through “integrated welcome” Riace has been repopulated by embracing immigration.

ArmandoAid, Greece, a small NGO based in UK, set up a community school in Oinofyta Refugee Camp in mainland Greece in 2016. This school started with English, Greek and Dari classes for children, and a plan to bring gardening into the curriculum, as a way of teaching mathematics, science, and environmental awareness. Tent-based lessons for women followed and men’s evening classes. Micro-gardens were created for each family tent, using old car tyres, soil and compost. The harsh gravel landscape, toxic soil and lack of water in the intense Greek summer posed an enormous challenge. Progress was made once stopgap water systems were brought onsite and energies consolidated around making the school a community learning hub, while the garden focus was building soil and compost. From there the project expanded to include a Childcare centre, a plant nursery and teaching garden and playground. ! Oinofyta Community School case study.

Con MOI, Italy, was established in March 2015, in a pop up school at Ex Moi the former Olympic village in Torino (Italy), which currently serves as home to over one thousand refugees and migrants. Con MOI is a self-funded group of volunteers: Italian citizens and ‘migrants’.  The multi-ethnic network is founded on the concepts of solidarity, environmental ethics and the gift economy, to promote trust, connection and intercultural communication. This prototype of democratic exchange first started with food sharing as the catalyst. Benefits include increased food security for members, waste reduction, visibility, political integration, a stronger sense of community and new and more effective capabilities for integration into a more secure environment.    https://vimeo.com/162373252

The Blue Mountains refugee support group for integration

Blue Mountains, refugee support group for integration Australia. 700+ local members of this group offer practical, emotional and financial assistance for refugees. All encourage positive attitudes to refugees in the community and at all levels of government. They have a high public profile and welcome new arrivals.   The local government has declared itself ‘Refugee Friendly’.

Haus der statistik

Haus-der-statistik Germany.  The original GDR-structure of a building with more than 40.000 square meters of usable space, shall be turned into affordable living space for refugees and working space for the arts, culture and education. Meeting areas, co-living and co-working approaches create mutual synergies of integration between the protagonists and the neighbourhood. This prototype represents an innovative and inclusive practice by bringing together culture, education and social engagement under one roof.

Sicily: refugees and locals co-led enterprises

Sicilia, Italy Food for integration. A small enterprise has been created in Catania to produce meals that are a fusion of African and Sicilian gastronomic traditions. The enterprise is run by young Italians and Africans who offer new recipes from their own culinary traditions, and also offer workshops to help more young people learn job skills and integrate into society. The benefits of this program include using food as a basis for cultural exchange, learning and respect.

Sicilia Integra, Floridia, Sicilia (Italy) & Gaia Education

Sicilia Integra is a program developed by Gaia Education through the University of Catania Biological Agriculture Faculty, the local commune, and several local NGOs to accelerate the integration of migrants into the local community. Recognizing and uniting the perceived ‘problems’ of unemployment and migrant influx, the project unites local youth with migrants in a project to develop skills, capacities and self-confidence while creating a park on degraded commune land on the town’s periphery. A program demonstrating the high potential of welcoming migrant youth as regenerators of the local economy and society.

Project PermaBioregione Ossola, Domodossola, Piemonte, (Italy)

Similarly, this project is developing unused commune land, the site serves as a hub for strengthening the larger bio-region of an Alpine zone through uniting otherwise isolated valleys and villages, with particular focus on integrating marginalised sectors of the society (migrants, unemployed, disabled), and enhancing the struggling economy. The impact on the local community of combining a positive integration with productivity and learning is highly positive in transforming current resistances.