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  • Karambi Group of People with Disabilities

    Transforming Lives and Communities with Regenerative Agriculture in Uganda Background Based in Kases, Uganda, the Karambi Group of People with Disabilities (KGPD) was founded in 1995 in response to the discrimination, isolation, and exclusion faced by people with disabilities within society. Muhindo Josephat, Executive Director of Karambi Group of People with Disabilities, describes what inspired him to form the group: “Some of the parents here lock children [with disabilities] in their houses, then go away and leave them there. So I advocated that every parent who had a child with disabilities should bring that child before people, so that every person knows that in this household, is our friend, this person with a disability.” The members and leaders of the group, including Josephat, have disabilities themselves and use their insight and ingenuity to design accessible programs to fully involve others who have been marginalised, enabling them to use their diverse abilities to enrich their standards of living, their environment and communities. In 2015, the Group identified the need to improve the environment on their organisational land which was suffering from soil erosion and undertook a tree planting and education program to regenerate the land and invigorate those using it. Impact on Planet The group applied for funding to the Sustainable Lush Fund, who accepted the project and linked them with Re-Alliance members in Kenya who visited to facilitate a permaculture design by the local people with disabilities who used the land. The training enabled the group to give voice to the sustainable practices they already had in place which valued and maximised their precious human and natural resources: “We realised we were doing permaculture unknowingly!” (Muhindo Josephat) Regeneration of the land began in 2016 when the Group planted over 2000 trees and 100 fruit bushes and nursery beds were established. Image: Land before and after tree planting and vegetable gardens. Impact on People With a thriving environment to host activities, the site became a demonstration training ground for permaculture and conservation and in 2017, 50 people with disabilities were introduced to permaculture gardening and were given tools to start practicing skills at their homes. Through creating kitchen gardens, people with disabilities were able to create environments that were fully accessible for them to work in and grow their own food for feeding themselves, their families and for sale at market. The Group are fully engaged with the wider community and have partnered with eight schools and four community-based groups where they have empowered over 2142 young adults and 300 adults with food growing skills and permaculture principles. To support these projects they have installed seven irrigation systems in schools and 30 families have received water tanks. Working through schools has empowered disabled young people to become social transformational leaders, taking action at school, at home and in their community. The group’s aim is to see families grow organic food to feed their families and regenerate the environment. To date the group have planted over 30,000 trees which yield both fruits and wood. “In my home, I’m now able to do permaculture gardening - planting bananas, planting cassava, planting coffee - those skills are all from the Karambi group. It has improved me economically, administratively, and for being famous around the community!” Muhindo Josephat “Karambi has given me the skills to produce food to feed the children and myself on a balanced diet, and I can sell some to get an income. I have a group that normally goes to the market to do business - selling eggplants, tomatoes, onions.” (Fabis Sahan, a member of KGPD) Combined Regenerative Impact The discrimination and exclusion of people with disabilities means their innate energy and intentions cannot be used to positively engage and create in the world. Many systems in society are wasteful, the exclusion of people from meaningful activity and engagement in sustaining networks is perhaps one the most wasteful and dehumanising. In contrast, the engagement of people with disabilities in self-sustaining, enriching and regenerating processes gives health and resources to the environment and the individuals involved and enables the wider community to see the strength of fully employing the diversity of human abilities. Funding groups made up of, and led by, people with disabilities breaks down prejudice in communities and ensures a meaningful understanding of accessibility in programme design and implementation. As Muhindo Josephat, Executive Director of Karambi Group of People with Disabilities said: “After people learned about us, they no longer laughed at us. Now they come to us to ask for advice and get information - it makes us feel proud.” Muhindo Josephat Scalability An estimated 1 billion people – 15 percent of the world's population – live with a disability, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and 80 per cent of these are in countries in the majority global south. Finding ways to enable these people to engage in regenerative practices has the potential to improve the health of the planet and people. Putting people with disabilities at the heart of programme design ensures insightful and locally achievable responses to promote accessibility. It also promotes leadership skills of individuals with disabilities, a key driver for societal change: “I have developed skills in talking before a lot of people - a hundred people, or a thousand people - I talk with no fear.” Muhindo Josephat The 2018 Global Disability Summit Charter for Change stated to “Promote the leadership and diverse representation of all persons with disabilities to be front and centre of change; as leaders, partners and advocates. This includes the active involvement and close consultation of persons with disabilities of all ages.” The summit has prompted commitments from the global development sector, including DFID’s Strategy for Disability Inclusive Development 2018-23. We hope that with these commitments, new and emerging groups such as the Karambi Group of People with Disabilities will be funded and supported. Read more from the Karambi Group of People with Disabilities: Facebook: Website:

  • Looking For a Simple Sanitation Solution that will W.A.S.H.

    Could Assisted Self-build Latrines, such as The Treebog, improve toilet provision in Refugee and IDP camps? Image: A Treebog is Self-Built in Senegal by the Jiwnit Community An interesting exchange arose between Re-Alliance members Jay Abrahams, microbiologist and founder of Biologic Design Ltd, a UK permaculture design consultancy which creates regenerative, natural wastewater and water systems, and Richard Luff, an experienced WASH engineer who has worked in refugee camps. When Jay wanted to introduce the Treebog into the humanitarian sector, both he and Richard discovered they had ideas for improving toilets for refugee and IDP camps. Here we use extracts from their exchanges to look at their practice and ideas in more detail. The Problem with the Status Quo Ask anyone with an interest in toilet provision in emergency situations and almost all will agree that the current norm of communal latrines, emptying into underground concrete-lined pits, is problematic. Environmentally, the latrines require large inputs of financial and material resources, as well as labour and energy, to install and maintain. They require ongoing regular pumping with suction tankers, and the removal of ‘wastes’ before eventual treatment and disposal. Although rapid provision of toilets is needed to meet basic human needs and prevent the spread of diseases, the legacy of rapidly installed latrines can create harm for both people and planet for many years. In situations where resources are often scarce, conventional latrines are also extremely wasteful. From a humanitarian perspective, community latrines which are installed without the participation of those using them can create an environment where the abuse of vulnerable groups, including women and girls, is exacerbated. As Richard Luff puts it: “Despite increasing attempts to provide latrines in acute emergencies that meet most girls’, women’s and other vulnerable groups’ needs, the WASH sector modality of building communal latrines consistently fails to do this.” because they cant be built fast enough in the early stages of a rapid onset refugee/IDP crisis“ A Self-Build Solution Both Richard and Jay have innovative ideas to address the problem of communal latrines, through the rapid building of latrines for each household or family group. Richard proposes that humanitarian agencies: “Develop Assisted Self-build Latrine approaches for all emergency response situations in order to phase out communal latrine building and instead focus on latrines for family use” Here the structures would be built primarily by users rather than agencies which could provide more dignity and safety earlier on. Moving to a notion of self-building shelter/housing is becoming more established in disaster response situations: “The shelter sector has for the past few years been focussing on supporting self-recovery, with the aim of enabling households after disaster and refugees to build their own shelter and homes.” Although the benefits of self-building are acknowledged, enabling households in both disaster and refugee situations to be active participants in building back better and safer, not much, if anything, has been done on agency assisted latrine self-build in refugee camps. Richard suggests this is because: “There is one major difference between a shelter and a latrine; an unsafe shelter may harm the family using it, but an unsafe latrine that leaks faecal matter into the environment could contaminate and harm many others.” However, this potential harm should be weighed against the actual danger posed daily to women and girls using communal latrines, and mitigated against through agency supported safe and durable design and implementation. Wider ecological impacts should also be taken into consideration. Treebogs - A regenerative design Treebog at Jiwnit Community Senegal over time Trees planted Oct 2019 May 2020 - rapid growth April 2021 the Papaya is fruiting One such design could be the Treebog. Jay Abrahams developed Treebogs for his own off-grid living situation in the UK over 30 years ago. Today hundreds of Treebogs have been built and function well in the varied climates of Portugal, Greece, Spain, Nepal, Israel, Palestine and Senegal. The Treebog has become a successful ‘technology’ in both rural and peri-urban settings within Europe, often self-built using hand tools, local natural materials and planted with indigenous tree species. Treebogs are a compost toilet with a platform mounted toilet seat or squat, in a cubicle, surrounded by closely planted, economically valuable and useful, trees and shrubs. This arrangement enables the faeces and urine to be deposited on the soil surface, underneath the platform, where the solids are composted into soil, while the liquid soaks into the earth below, feeding the root zone of the planted species surrounding the Treebog. Jay suggests that with self-built Treebogs the maintenance of the structures and their management is the responsibility of the family using the latrines, and so they are more likely to look after the latrine and keep it clean and functional - as well as harvest the yield from the trees. Treebogs are comparable to standard compost toilets in that they compost waste and do not use water for flushing, but are unique in design. They hold wastes on the soil surface (above-ground), within an aerobic chamber beneath the seating/squatting platform, this enables rapid aerobic decomposition so the wastes are composted in-situ and no secondary handling is needed. Fast-growing, useful and economically valuable trees are planted around the structure to enhance liquid take-up and composting of the solids. The plant nutrients within so-called ‘waste materials’ are broken down by soil microbiota (bacteria, archaea, fungi, protists, beetles and earthworms) and then absorbed through the roots into the growing biomass of the trees. When full, Treebogs are closed and the contents are left to compost or rot, if required they can be safely emptied by hand after about a year to 18 months, once the wastes have been fully composted to soil. Richard suggests the use of a twin Treebog system in refugee camps where loading rates i.e. number of users, are typically much higher, would help where there are space constraints. Jay explains: “A Treebog empowers local people to take control of their own ‘wastes’. It gives them the ability to create soil, begin a home garden, and create resources locally, with very little input from outside actors. Once a Treebog is established and planted with trees which can be coppiced for polewood, it is possible to literally ‘grow' the materials to construct more Treebogs! A Treebog is a tree-growing, soil-creating mechanism and the soil life which inhabits the compost pile - the earthworms and dung beetles in temperate regions and the termites and ants in the tropics - all benefit the web of life that the Treebog creates, so local biodiversity is enhanced.” The Treebog design is simple to implement and has benefits beyond toilet provision: “There is no need to dig deep pits, which actually bring the septic wastes into closer proximity to the groundwater and so can increase the possibility of pollution of this resource. Dozens of trees are grown around the structure when the Treebog is created. Trees provide us with many of the ‘ecosystem services’ we need for life and not to include trees in the overall design of refugee camps – indeed settlements in general – is to miss a trick.” “In places where resources are scarce, a low-tech solution may be more appropriate than high-tech or energy intensive solutions. As a biologist practicing permaculture design, I am able to ‘trust the biology’ to do the job. Because the Treebog concept is so simple it has not yet found support amongst the NGOs responsible for operating these camps who may well be more comfortable providing engineered solutions”. An metal frame Treebog in Senegal - showing the adaptability of design Aid agencies and NGOs may feel that research and development is needed to prove the safety, durability and scalability of Treebogs. If so, Jay hopes to hear from any agency willing to explore the potential for creating and planting Treebogs using local resources, with a view to building a protocol that NGOs can work with, flexible enough to adapt to local situations. Richard suggests the use of an adapted twin pit Treebog system in refugee camps where loading rates i.e. number of users, are typically much higher, would help where there are space constraints and pit closures are often not possible. From Waste to Resource The principle behind the Treebog is a paradigm shift: from seeing human ‘waste’ as a problem to seeing it as a resource. Jay describes: “A Treebog is a biologist’s approach to toilet design, viewing the organic matter and nutrients as a potential resource, because within the cycle of life there is no such thing as a waste. Conventional development systems/solutions use a Newtonian world view, a ‘world as machine’ approach, which views the waste only as a problem to be got rid of rather than as a resource for growing plants and trees.” However, for wastes to become a resource, the risks related to contamination and health need to be acknowledged and any potential harm prevented. Identifying possible limitations of the Treebog design could be key to its successful adaptation to disaster situations. For example, its unique design using above-ground aerobic digestion could make Treebogs vulnerable to landslides or flooding - but current practice is susceptible to these same risks, and have on many occasions failed the populations they are serving. With an initial investment to trial Treebogs in Refugee or IDP camp situations, the design could be modified to adapt to adverse conditions. While Treebogs may not be suited to all conditions, clearly defining and understanding the Treebog’s benefits and limitations mean they could be used as part of a mix of appropriate solutions. The simplicity of the Treebog concept means it could be adapted in partnership with the residents of camps to suit varying cultural and environmental conditions, and also makes it ideally suited to self-build. Jay believes that self-built Treebogs could provide many ‘ecosystem services’ which can benefit the health of the communities living in the camps, as well as surrounding biodiversity and ecological health. This is an approach that Richard believes could support other work he is undertaking to promote biodiversity net gain for healthy settlements, whereby trees, shrubs and other plants can play a significant role to improve residents health in a number of ways, alongside other co-benefits. A regenerative solution is diverse and responsive Interesting sustainable designs are being invested in, for use in camp situations, such Oxfam's Urine Diversion Dry Toilets and Tiger Worm Toilets, but as yet they are all ‘top down’ modifications to agency-installed communal latrines. Until the users of latrines are involved in elements of the design, implementation and maintenance of their latrines, novel solutions can’t be truly considered Regenerative. There are some cultures that maintain deep reservations about handling human “waste”, so bringing them to an understanding and acceptance of the resource aspect is also a prerequisite. To move forward in a regenerative way, a diversity of solutions is needed to adapt to communities’ varying needs and environmental requirements. Assisted Self-Built Latrines and Treebogs could be part of this solution. Re-Alliance calls to Aid Agencies, Humanitarian organisations, and funders to partner with us and our members to trial these innovative solutions. Further reading: R. Luff note on Assisted Self-build Latrines Case study soil-building-in-rural-senegal R. Luff note on Biodiversity net gain for healthy settlements

  • Where Social Cohesion Works: Refugees in Cox's Bazar

    Words and images by Magnus Wolfe Murray, a Re-Alliance member currently working in Bangladesh. Above: Camp 26, just down the road from Shamplapur. Fences are going up to surround all the camps, making freedom of movement even harder. And the feeling of confinement is ever more real. Shamplapur is a town on the coast an hour or so drive south from Cox's Bazar. A river estuary emerges here; a town emerged generations ago. From the 1970s, Rohingya people came here to work in the fishing boats; more people came in the 90s, many of them refugees fleeing Myanmar's military horror. And again in this most recent refugee influx in 2017. Perhaps mindful of their pressure, possibly by local edict, the numbers remained relatively low, at around a few hundred families. By late 2017 there were several thousand refugee families. They rented land from local landlords for their shelters, they worked in the boats, the tea shops, they shopped in their markets. Children were born, they went to the local schools, were raised with the locals. They grew up and married into the local community, had kids, lived a life. A classic story of migration and settlement. Then, this year, the central Government in Dhaka decided they needed to shut down this integrated community altogether. To every extent possible the Government wants to prevent refugees becoming permanent here. And integration with the local community - a big no-no. So Shamplapur is the latest example to be set, and it's quite tragic to see entire communities dismantled, the people given notice and a few weeks to pack. Using a pretext of national security concerns (despite the lack of any security pressures here). Local businesses are furious, they've invested in larger boats, now they lose much of their labour. Shops and markets will lose half their trade. All those young people raised here, now being forced to leave. The Government isn't exactly forcing them at the point of a gun, but it certainly isn't informed nor voluntary movement - which is what we hold up globally as a basic principle for a decent approach to population movements. Above: When things couldn't really get much more difficult, people are forced to move again. So where will people go? Most of the Rohingya communities have left already, trucked off to different camps inland. And many others to a new island the Government has developed called Basanchar, from where it's said they cannot leave or return to the mainland. All that said, it's really hard for western governments to criticize or even raise concerns, when we do so little we can be proud of with refugees on our shores. Throughout 2017, the UK accepted a total of 6,212 refugees (during the height of the Syrian refugee crisis). Other asylum seekers who show up on the shores illegally are locked up in quite appalling centers, from where, like those Rohingya in Basanchar, they cannot leave. Above: Picking up the pieces - a family after relocation from "outside the fence" in camp 26, where they had to dismantle their shelter, with quite old bamboo and material which couldn't be re-used - meaning they were forced to buy most of it again. But look for a moment at how other countries deal with refugee communities. The French Government closed the camps in Calais with violence and abuse. Literally burning and bulldozing the refugees and migrants out. Australia is perhaps the worst offender with its harsh policies of sending asylum seekers to Nauru Island, for many years, where eventually human rights groups exposed extreme levels of mistreatment, sexual exploitation and unfathomable levels of despair and depression brought on by years in a kind of purgatory where you're not allowed to work, study or progress in life. Whereas other countries seem to have a much more reasonable approach. Uganda hosts some 1.4m refugees (mostly from South Sudan). They're allowed freedom of movement, they can work, study, farm the land. In Turkey, the world's largest refugee hosting country, has 4m, mostly people from Syria. Again, they're allowed to work and live relatively freely, given special ID cards. A Turkish Doctor I met recently said it had led to a degree of economic development as factories and agriculture had benefited from the increased labour market. Pakistan and Iran too, for decades have accepted millions of refugees - most of them working, renting homes and starting businesses. And Germany welcomed about 1.8m refugees and asylum seekers - despite the criticism sometimes used that they only accept well qualified refugees. So the struggle continues. Shamplapur settlement, also known as camp 25, is one of 34 camps in total. One can't get too engaged on only one. The old adage of winning a battle but losing the war, perhaps translated here as knowing what you cannot change, focusing on the things you can influence, and trying to keep a level head enough to know the difference. Above: An area where other refugees were settled - but into a sunken basin of land which is likely to flood when the rains start. Is this a disaster waiting to happen? Words and images by Magnus Wolfe Murray, a Re-Alliance member currently working in Bangladesh. Re-Alliance aims to promote a regenerative, place-based approach to settlement design. For some examples of what that can look like in different contexts, see our case studies page here.

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  • Regenerative Design in Humanitarian Response and Development | Re-Alliance

    Supporting the humanitarian and development sectors to implement regenerative change. A Coalition Bringing together field practitioners, policy makers, educators, community leaders and humanitarian and development workers. Sharing skills and experiences to grow the influence and impact of regenerative development in the humanitarian field. Case Studies View more Join our membership As part of our network, whether a grassroots practitioner or a member of an international NGO or Aid organisation, you will have access to dynamic knowledge, a vibrant and active community of experts, and a wealth of opportunities for collaboration. Our membership is open to all. The only requirements are an interest, understanding or expertise in regenerative design, experience in the humanitarian and/or development sectors, and a willingness to comply with our code of conduct and policies. Find out more 4 min Karambi Group of People with Disabilities Transforming Lives and Communities with Regenerative Agriculture in Uganda Background Based in Kases, Uganda, the Karambi Group of... Sign up for our newsletters For inspiring stories from our network of practitioners around the globe, to learning about how to integrate regenerative design into humanitarian and development contexts, sign up to our newsletter below. Sign up OUR FOCUS • Building a body of successful projects to communicate the effectiveness, authenticity, and value of regenerative work ​ • Providing an environment for mutual learning and support amongst those active in the field ​ • Facilitating the collection, production, and presentation of evidence and stories from the field ​ • Examining the intersection between the humanitarian and development fields, promoting innovative, community-led regenerative principles and practices Karambi Group of People with Disabilities Looking For a Simple Sanitation Solution that will W.A.S.H. Where Social Cohesion Works: Refugees in Cox's Bazar See Services

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  • Webinars | Re-Alliance

    Acerca de Re-Alliance's June Webinar Re-Imagining the Future of Food with Griffn Welcome to the latest webinar in Re-Alliance's bi-monthly regenerative webinar series. In this webinar, Growing Real Food for Nutrition CIC (Grffn) Co-Founders and Directors Matthew Adams and Elizabeth Westaway will be making a presentation entitled “Re-Imagining the Future of Food”. This webinar is now over The session will discuss our broken relationship with nature and how a focus on measuring food quality, based on nutrient density, can provide a positive solution to inspire a new way of thinking (a shift in consciousness) based on creating symbiosis between humans and nature, where the output is an abundance of health. Agriculture currently uses 40% of the world’s landmass and the policy of cheap food, which is linked to supporting global food supply chains, has led to widespread environmental and social injustice. Putting profit before planet, simply does not work. Yet a plant is a plant, and the principle of what makes one healthy plant grow, needs to be explored and understood in the context of increasing the health of both people and planet. If the quality of that plant can be easily measured, and the backstory of associated health benefits to Mother earth are substantiated or better still experienced, it creates the possibility for setting a food quality standard that all 570 million farms worldwide can aim for. To learn more, visit, or @Grffn_CIC on twitter. The speakers can be contacted at and This webinar is now over Want to keep informed about future webinars and meetings? The easiest way to stay informed about upcoming events and much more, is by becoming a member of Re-Alliance. Membership is free and open to all with an interest in regenerative design. To read more about our membership benefits, and to request to join the network, click the button below. Join Re-Alliance

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