How can you harmonise nature conservation and community development successfully?…
Refugee Empowerment in Uganda through Regenerative Approaches: Rwamwanja Rural Foundation
How can refugees achieve food sovereignty? The team from Rwamwanja Rural Foundation is building better livelihoods with permaculture.
The Rwamwanja Rural Foundation Ltd. (RRF) is a grassroots organisation in the south-west of Uganda. Bemeriki Bisimwa Dusabe, a refugee from Congo, started the organization in 2015. It is run by refugees and aims at defeating malnutrition in the settlement. By educating their neighbours about permaculture, the foundation empowers refugees to grow their own food and to take a first step in leading a self-determined life. RRF emphasises that refugees should start growing their own food – even if their garden or plot is very small, because regenerative farming practices like permaculture can get a lot out of it. Participants and team members are mainly youth and women.
„Our mission is to make highly nutritious “ready-to-use“ food products more accessible and affordable to those who need them most, while also increasing awareness of their benefits and therefore generating demand.“Rwamwanja Rural Foundation
People trained by RRF receive trainings for every step of the way: site analysis, design, installation and observation. Important topics of the courses are how to improve the soil and what to consider when installing kitchen gardens. In order to supply new permaculture practitioners with all they need without being dependent on others, the organization produces the seeds in their gardens.
Over 97.000 people live in the Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement in Uganda – with only 8 primary schools. The need for education is high. In addition to permaculture, RRF provides general education, as well as seminars in mushroom production and soap and shampoo manufacture. It addresses the empowerment of women in particular through tailoring projects.
Voices from Beneficiaries
Why does the Rwamwanja Rural Foundation apply permaculture and what do beneficiaries learn?
Mushroom Production for Refugees
As a fast-growing, nutritious food, mushrooms are very beneficial for refugees. They can grow them easily in dark parts of their houses, even under beds, and harvest their mushroom gardens after only 4 weeks and produce meals, medicines and spicy powders. Residents of the refugee settlement can feed their families from mushrooms and even sell the surplus. Permaculture trainer Bemeriki from RRF trains over 50 families in mushroom production and provides materials for starting up with their own mushroom gardens.
Refugees as Sustainable Entrepreneurs
The team of Rwamwanja Rural Foundation sees themselves as social entrepreneurs: “We believe that combining humanitarianism and business represents a vision for development that is in tune with the current world’s economic environment.” They want to become independent of donations and public financial support. Especially at a time when aid budgets are being cut, ethical business models that generate their own financial resources are successful over a longer period of time.
“My family and I are beyond happy with our renovation. I highly recommend permaculture to anyone looking to renovate their garden. The quality of the knowledge and food we got are appreciated.”Rwamwanja Rural Foundation beneficiary
Next Steps to Support Refugees’ Regeneration Work
The focus of Rwamwanja Rural Foundation in 2023 is expanding:
- buy land for a permaculture training center for refugees and host communities
- expand mushroom production, which needs with essentials for growing mushroom mother spawn (for example deep freezer)
- establish a school permaculture club for students and teachers who will be matron and patrons of the project. The club will help young children to be part of permaculture activist from school level to community level, parents will be learning from what their children are doing
- offer more permaculture trainings for refugees in Rwamwanja refugee settlements and other refugee camps
Funding for these projects is very welcome and contributes to achieving all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Partners of Rwamwanja Rural Foundation
The Rwamwanja Rural Foundation works together with Ethos foundation, Regenerosity, Abundant Earth Foundation, UWC South Eastern ASIA and Generation Restoration.
Inspired by Permaculture: The Permaculture Song:
Pictures: taken for Generation Restoration on an educational trip with Regenerosity and Re-Alliance, 2023.
Tina Teucher visited Rwamwanja Rural Foundation (Uganda) in 2023 to shed light on regenerative, holistic ways of designing refugee camps, settlements and projects. She is a speaker and moderator with focus on sustainable business. As a sustainability expert, she brings over 12 years of experience in topics such as regenerative business, green innovation and business ethics into her work. Since 2021, Tina Teucher is particularly committed to ecosystem restoration and aims to bring together international stakeholders through the Generation Restoration initiative. She is the author of the book “Biodiversity“ and reports on her visits to regenerative places on her blog.
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