PDC Kamuli day 8: Integrate rather than segregate – its all about people

There are those people who believe that the world’s environmental problems are down to the fact that there are too many people; possibly because this absolves them of any responsibility for trying to resolve them. After all with all those Chinese people or whatever, what does it matter what I do?


Hauling sugar cane, grown on land that used to be forest and swamp, we consuming ecosystems for sweetness. Sustainable?

Of course nothing could be further from the truth. The damage done to the planet is disproportionate to a small section of the population who have a colossal impact, so it is not a number of heads issues per se, it is how those heads behave that is the critical factor. Permaculture is interested in regeneration, modelling from nature we learn that the planet has an ability to heal itself, to create complexity where there was simplicity, to build ecosystems by trapping resources and energy then using cyclical systems to build interconnected systems. Therefore as permaculture designers are challenged to learn from that process and realise that actually people can have a net benefit on the planet. Just at the point in time when the earth’s living systems are under critical assault we happen to have the greatest number of people ever on the planet at one time.

Investigatinga citrus team on site visit to a school orchard

Day eight of the PDC is about people and how we act together, How to unlock the potential of people power to heal the planet. If people can be the greatest asset, with permaculture design and the right formula in place we can easily address the issues of reversing the destruction of our planet to unleash the power of nature to heal it. Easier said than done, but that is what permaculture design sets out to achieve on a macro scale. Here in Uganda we are applying ourselves to a micro scale, our design project is focussing our attention on a 30 acre plot, by the banks of the Nile and owned by the charity of Dolen Ffermio. It is going to be a challenging task, but with our diverse team of newly hatched permaculture enthusiasts we have the chance of setting something in motion here that could have long and lasting value.

Class rom study, people and permaculture

We run sessions of group consensus building, co-operatives, 6 hat thinking and other group problem solving methods, we are using collective observation strategies to observe the land, clients and tasks and trying to embody all of these skills into our learning process. I had bought a copy of Looby MacNmarra’s books, People and Permaculture but it was too heavy to take on the plane, I was 20kg overweight and had to make some desperate choices.

Community members on the Dolen Ffermio plot

Long hot days in the classroom, locked in study, interspersed with torrential rains, spectacular downpours of rain, impossible heavy showers that give way to warm and wet stillness, peppered with bird song and loud insect noises.

We sneak out to a local bar after dinner for a couple of beers, some time out and to compare notes, we are a team of permaculture facilitators from Wales out in the sticks in Central Africa, a little out of our normal comfort zone but really enjoying the challenge.

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