Permaculture for Refugees (P4R) is an international network of permaculture educators and practitioners, community leaders and networkers with experience working with refugees, camp managers and people displaced by natural and human disasters in widely diverse physical, climatic and cultural situations. P4R was set up, following a workshop on permaculture in refugee situations during the 2016 European Permaculture Convergence in Bolsena, Italy.
Our role continues to expand with a growing network of teachers and trainers in camps and settlements, as well as with resettled refugees in their new host countries.
History of Permaculture for Refugees
We knew that refugee settlements and camps were inhumane, brutal and largely unresponsive to the needs of their residents. A small group of P4R members, decided to test a deep conviction that permaculture would be valued and effective for refugees in camps and settlements. However, we were aware that deep convictions aren’t enough and people need to see results.
Our small group embarked on an ambitious program in 2019 to transform the problems into solutions. We designed a program of Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) courses to teach refugees across continents, with a range of ages, religions, genders, languages and nationalities. We were directed to sites in Bangladesh, Turkey, Greece, Malaysia and the Philippines. Each person in our group experienced teaching at one or more diverse sites, giving us enough evidence to go out into the refugee and permaculture world and say, “We have something valuable and effective for refugees, camp managers, and humanitarian organisations”.
We trained 250 people including staff from host organisations, refugees and local villagers, and realised our objective of transforming refugee lives and places, through bringing permaculture design courses to camps.
The results were exciting. The first course resulted in a design for a local school by the local people, and the second a design for a small section of the refugee camp – really a neighbourhood of a few thousand people. Within a few weeks about 2,500 people were practising elements of permaculture from nursery work to planting. Food gardens were wanted because camp food was basic and sometimes scarce.
Just weeks after we left, we began receiving photos of whole sections of the camp and village transformed, with other humanitarian organisations asking the Bangladesh Association of Sustainable Development (BASD), our partner, what the secret was for such an effective project. Permaculture strategies and techniques are now widespread in this camp because people copy and learn from each other.
Learn more about P4R…