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Cegrane Camp

Children of Uganda

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Travels in Permaculture
By Andrew Jones
Cegrane Camp Permaculture Rehabilitation Project

Macedonia
I returned to work with CARE in April 1999, while the situation in Macedonia was getting serious. Within several weeks, hundreds of thousands of refugees from Yugoslavia flooded into this small country and neighboring Albania. CARE International was one of the key non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working to provide relief and protection. Of a total refugee population of 260,000, 150,000 were housed with host families, and 110,000 were directed to 8 campsites within Macedonia. In May of 1999, I took over as Camp Manager of Cegrane refugee camp, the largest in the country gclub.

Aerial photo of Cegrane Refugee Camp.
Aerial photo of Cegrane Refugee Camp.

Aerial photo of Cegrane Refugee Camp.
May is early summer in the Balkans, and it was already very hot in the camp, which was situated on a mountainside directly abutting the village of Cegrane/Forino. The site had been hastily prepared and quickly outgrew its initial boundaries. I arrived to crisis conditions as the camp's population swelled to roughly 30,000 people, far exceeding its planned capacity of 5,000. Bus convoys from the border arrived nightly bearing more refugees. Numerous NGOs, along with UN and Macedonian government agencies operated within the camp. My role as Camp Manager was akin to being unelected mayor, principally involving information management, issue resolution between stakeholders, and above all, keeping food and services flowing to the residents of a tented town. We had a team of roughly 150 international, local and refugee workers engaged with CARE alone.

With a mountain bike as my official vehicle, I quickly came to grips with the fundamental issues in the camp. In order to prepare the site, the German military had cut a series of terraces up the side of the mountain. These formed roads or bases for tents. The stony soil was being augmented by truckloads of gravel from a nearby quarry to provide some traction and drainage. Lined pit latrines and shower blocks were being provided, along with cold rations for three meals per day. The site had a natural drainage channel through the center--the continuation of a valley stream path. During rainfall events the site was flooded through the center from the valley draining the mountain system above. The floodwaters ended up in the main street of the village and flooded the local primary school. En route, the waters washed out tents and caused a lot of misery to refugee families.

The initial focus of our work was to ensure the flow of services. However, once NATO forces re-entered Kosovo, large numbers of refugees from Macedonia and Albania voluntarily repatriated themselves. As refugees began returning home, I started to think about the site and its future. The land had originally been used for growing grapes; then as the soil was depleted it grew wheat. Further degradation led to its use by the community for rough grazing. This is the point at which it became a refugee camp. I thought about what could be done to ensure the site's future value to the community, whereupon I shared my thoughts with Geoff Lawton and asked if he thought we could showcase a permaculture site rehabilitation.

Cegrane Camp Permaculture Rehabilitation Project
Geoff agreed that the site was a good candidate for permaculture rehabilitation, as well as perhaps for a teaching center for permaculture in the region. The idea had broad support from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) consultant working on physical infrastructure for the region. CARE funded Geoff's visit, on the basis that his design would be the foundation for a significant project. Geoff made a two-week trip in which we attended the first meeting on refugee site rehabilitation between UNHCR, the Macedonian authorities, NGOs, and คาสิโน donor representatives. Geoff spoke about the possibility of permaculture, people were intrigued and asked if we could have a plan within the time set for the next meeting in ten days. We agreed.
Swales of vegatation after ten months at Cegrane.
Swales of vegatation after ten months at Cegrane.

Swales of vegatation after ten months at Cegrane.

Geoff worked hard with a translator to learn about the local agriculture and culture, as well as walking and riding all over the site in order to begin to envision a design. Our subsequent presentation showed a colorful vision of what the site could become. It was powerful, and Geoff gave a 20-minute explanation. At the end of our presentation, there was silence . Then, Patty Culpepper, representative of the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration spoke up. "This is just the kind of thing donors should support; it will stand as a symbol of sustainability in modern times". She backed her verbal support with cash, as did the Austrian Government. Together they provided roughly $1.3 million dollars for the first three phases of a planned five-phase project. Additional support came from UNHCR and NGOs that were involved on the site.

Geoff's design was based on a topographic survey of the site. It also incorporated the ideas and interests of many parties, including the local community and all the agencies that had worked to provide services in the camp. The design included several key features. Permaculture design begins with consideration of fundamental influences on any site, so water and slope were important factors. To relieve the pressure of valley fed water flows, Geoff incorporated a significant system of swales. These are large ditches running on contour, designed to intercept water flowing downhill and hold it until it can re-absorb into the soil. The bank on the lower side of the swale becomes a planting mound. Due to subsurface water, this area tends to be a wetter microclimate than the surrounding land, providing a good platform for biological growth.

The swales designed for the site were very large; those at the top were over 10 feet deep, with overflow and flood spillways to ensure adequate capacity to divert any floodwater runoff. As in any good design, they swales were created to provide, not just for average events, but for outlying events such as the 50 - or 100-year storm that can destroy a system designed only for averages. Since detailed rainfall data for the area was not accessible, Geoff hiked up the valley, noting high water lines in the vegetation from past flooding, then calculated peak event water flows down the valley. The final design called for 7.2 km of swales, with an estimated water holding capacity of 30 million liters.

Additional features of the design were a cluster of passive solar design buildings on the lower portion of the site near the village to be used for a permaculture center and local community activities. Surrounding these, gardens laid out according to permaculture design principles would showcase the potential to use guild plantings, mulch, and polyculture designs to enhance local family garden productivity. Surrounding this zone was a "food forest," a mixed planting of locally available fruit tree species. Going up the hill to the outer zones 4 and 5, were planned mixed tree belts along swales with interzone grasses and herbs to eventually support limited livestock grazing . The tree belts were to be planted into timber and flowering species to provide structural lumber and nectar flows for beekeeping. All planting areas included nitrogen fixing legume species to assist in building soil fertility.

Once the final proposals were presented to donors, funding followed. The project was carried out under the guidance of a core management team comprised of Paul Brant and several Australian permaculture specialists. The earthworks were a challenge, and an earthworks specialist , Richard Belfield was contracted to oversee their construction. The land was surveyed and contour lines marked. Bulldozers and diggers were sourced. And the work began in earnest.
Dave Clark came on as site manager, and stayed through to the end of phase three. Brooke Watson took the mantle from Paul Brant as Project Manager for phase two through phase three. Additional skills and expertise came from trusted local staff, many of whom had worked with us in the camp during the refugee activities. Their leadership and ability to negotiate the local culture and politics were critical to the project's success.

The Cegrane team successfully completed the earthworks before winter set in. The terraforming was impressive. It had a pattern that confirmed a harmony of design with the landscape. Flooding of the village of Cegrane ceased as the swales went in. Along with earthworks went planting of trees and seeds (a perimeter fence and ditch kept out goats). As winter set in, the first permaculture course was held in English for the project staff. Phase one was a clear success, and on the second day after the last swale was completed, it began snowing.
The strawbale A Team at Cegrane.
The strawbale A Team at Cegrane.

The strawbale A Team at Cegrane.

Winter was a time to focus on education. Following the first course, several translators were selected for the next courses, to be taught by Geoff and Sindhu Lawton. Out of respect for local customs, separate men and women's courses were developed. In the spring, the first course in Albanian, was taught by Gazmend Fetahi. A permaculture architect was employed on the project to help design the site structures, and to train a local architect in straw-bale building techniques and oversaw initial small projects to familiarize people with the processÑfoundations, a moisture barrier, wood frame, stacking the bales, wiring the walls, and rendering the structure to protect the straw from moisture and insect/pest attack.

The project employed over 100 staff during the second phase, and included a management process involving the local authorities. There were plenty of issues to resolve, but progress was being made. A children's garden was completed, and a chicken tractor, entrance way fence and the peace pond and statue were in place. The local craftsmen were quickly coming to terms with the straw bale medium for building, and our women's teams were showing the men up. One of the clear policies of the project was to provide employment opportunities for local women.



Children of Uganda

Growing COU’s Food Supply Sustainably!
boy_on_grass_picture.jpg
boy_on_grass_picture.jpg


Education and food go hand-in-hand. Without nutrition, a คาสิโน child cannot grow their body or mind. With many children, a small budget, and land that doesn’t receive very much rain, we are challenged to grow the most nutritious food at the least cost to our budget and to our land.
This summer we will introduce the practice of permaculture to the food plantation at our Rakai Home. Our staff will receive training from an experienced permaculture practitioner from Australia, Rosemary Morrow.
Together they will then design, and begin the implementation of a plan to create a food-growing program that builds on local knowledge, maximizes local conditions, and minimizes resources to grow the most nutritious mix of food for our children and staff. In addition, the local community and our partner secondary schools will receive training – exploding out into the wider community the ability to farm more sustainably.

CHILDREN OF UGANDA MISSION STATEMENT

There is an orphan crisis in Uganda. Currently the country is home to nearly 2.4 million children who have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS, extreme poverty and civil conflict. In fact, Uganda has the largest orphan population per capita of any country in the world.
Originally called the Uganda Children’s Charity Foundation, Children of Uganda was established in 1995 to care for orphans and other disadvantaged children in Uganda with the goal of helping them become healthy and productive members of คาสิโน society.
As a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization headquartered in the United States, Children of Uganda works in conjunction with local non-governmental organizations in Uganda to provide education and support to over 600 children in need.
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The mission of Children of Uganda is to support and empower hundreds of orphans and vulnerable children in Uganda to lead successful and productive lives. Our vision is that all children in Uganda receive an education to become healthy, productive members of their community who assume leadership roles and positively impact Ugandan society.

Kernersville tree removal