Permaculture for Refugees project outcomes

By Rosemary Morrow

We found surprising outcomes from permaculture projects initiated in refugee camps and settlements following PDC trainings there in 2019.

We expected to report only on:

  • how many gardens were made and that peoples’ diets improved, however, this was too hard as the project spread too widely and too fast and we weren’t able to sample the population.
  • how many refugees earned some income.
  • how many refugees supplemented World Food Program rations with local food.

Indeed we have a great deal of that information. In Bangladesh alone, with pyramid training, 22,000 Rohingya learned basic permaculture skills and were given seed and grew food. The figures were less for other places but still significant.

We found that:

  • Refugees taught each other.
  • Refugees phoned and contacted their families back in their home countries, or in other camps, and taught them.
  • Refugees taught in many ethnic languages – in every project – including in Malaysia, the Philippines, and Lesvos in Greece.

Refugees reported that their engagement in permaculture projects was:

  • Good to have worthwhile work.
  • Good to work with NGO staff and others.
  • Good to work where you see the results.
  • Great to earn some income or reduce expenditure.
  • Good to talk about permaculture together.

Their main on-site results included:

  • Waste reduction through making compost.
  • Reduced water usage and increased collection through using gray water for gardens.
  • Increased food for themselves and also to share.
  • Reduced climatic extremes in households/tents (less harsh heat and cold).
  • Production of some fuel to be able to cook food.

Our BIG finding was:
That the best way to promote and spread permaculture was to include, at every stage, the NGO workers in the camps. They were inspired and provided resources from seed to paper, pens, land and water. They had existing relationships with refugees and have continued working on in-camp projects with them. NGOs monitored the projects, evaluated them and reported back. NGO staff told their network at their meetings and if they moved to another NGO they took the information with them.

We learned that investing knowledge, some small funds and resources in NGOs working in camps delivered huge and exciting responses.

And so the next stage of this P4R project is to deliver full PDCs to NGOs working in camps in Bangladesh, and ask them to report on how effective that has been for them to work on integrated design and a systems approach.

To learn more read the summary document.

Leave a comment

eight − three =