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  • Building a Garden on the Roof - Illustrated Guide from Re-Alliance, GUPAP and Sporos Regeneration Institute

    Dedication The Re-Alliance team would like to share this resource with the following dedication: In solidarity with all the women of Gaza who created roof gardens for themselves, their families, and their communities. We hope for a time of peace and freedom when the seeds that are planted are allowed to flourish. Context This illustrated resource has been produced from the learnings of both desk based research, and action research projects that we piloted in partnership with Re-Alliance Members GUPAP (Gaza Urban & Peri-Urban Agriculture Platform) and Sporos Regeneration Institute as part of our wider Regenerative Camps and Settlements Guidelines Research. Keep an eye on our social media, newsletter and to be notified about other resources. The Guide This guide is aimed at community level organisations and actors, for direct use with communities. The guide is illustration-led, with the aim to reduce the barriers of illiteracy and language. The guide is split into both ‘Building a Garden on the Roof’ and ‘Cultivating on the Roof’ and covers topics such as materials needed, safety considerations, construction guidance, seed saving and organic fertilisers. Download the guide here This guide is currently being translated into a range of languages. If you would like this guide to be made available in a specific language please get in touch at to request this and we will see what we can do.

  • Toilet Solidarity, Compost Toilets for All

    Re-Alliance’s Mary Mellet reviews different designs, including the treebog, urine separators and simple container loos. This article was originally published in Permaculture Magazine's summer issue 116. Above: Winnie Tushabe from YICE Uganda presenting their EcoSan composting toilet There are many things to love about compost toilets; they’re low cost and cycle nutrients back to the earth rather than flushing away as waste. But how do you navigate the different designs and styles? Over the last six months, Re-alliance has helped build different types of composting toilets with refugee communities in Uganda and Kenya. Our aim is not to promote individual technologies, but to enable a choice for the most appropriate design in a given context. Instead of toilet ‘equality’ where the world follows the Western model of polluting and wasteful flushing toilets, we’re advocating for toilet ‘solidarity’, where the Western and majority world transition in tandem to regenerative sanitation solutions. These work with the nutrient cycle to create health and abundance from our waste instead of pollution and harm. Unless you built your own house, you probably didn’t get to choose which type of toilet it had; the majority of houses in the UK come with a flush toilet connected to the sewage network. But we do get a choice in any subsequent toilets, the toilet for the home office down the garden or the second toilet you install to accommodate a growing family. These extra loos could all be compost toilets. Here we look at two designs our partners have built in East Africa and then overview options that you could adopt for your own project – there’s a compost loo to suit most contexts. The Treebog in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya More than 182,000 people live in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, which was formed in 1992. Farming and Health Education, our local partner, is a community-based organisation which uses permaculture design principles to increase resilience by working with people to grow their own fresh food. Pictured right: FHE's Treebog, credit to Marcelin Munga Working with degraded soils and without the money for external fertilisers, growers in Kakuma understand the advantages of healthy soil and so the compost and fertility created by the treebogs are valued. In this pilot, two double treebogs were built and productive trees were planted around the toilets. Because these toilets are for communal use, it is useful that the treebog design does not include urine separation, to ensure little change in behaviour is needed from the toilet users. A carboniferous cover material, such as wood shavings or leaves, is added after using the toilet. The cover material prevents odours and flies, as well as maintaining the required carbon to nitrogen balance for healthy composting. We worked with Jay Abrahams, who invented the treebog, and he explained, “A treebog is a platform mounted toilet seat or squat, in a cubicle, surrounded by closely planted, fast growing and productive trees and shrubs. This arrangement enables the faeces and urine to be deposited on the soil surface in an aerobic chamber underneath the platform where the solids are composted into soil and the liquids soak into the earth below, feeding the root zone of the planted species surrounding the treebog. The trees enhance liquid take-up and composting of the solids and can also produce fruit, nuts and coppiced wood. When full, treebogs are closed and the contents are left to compost, being safely emptied after about a year to 18 months, once the wastes have been fully composted to soil. Depending on the amount of users, some treebogs never need to be emptied and the composted waste just continues to feed the trees. The trees and shrubs also create a habitat for wildlife, increasing the biodiversity of the area.” EcoSan Toilets in Nakivale Uganda In the Nakivale refugee camp in Uganda, refugees are given a small plot of land to build a dwelling and farm food on. Our partner organisation YICE (Youth Initiative for Community Empowerment) is working with families to create kitchen gardens but yields are limited because the soil is poor. Pictured right: YICE Uganda's EcoSan We worked with YICE to build eight urine diverting dry toilets (or ‘ecosan toilets’) for families. By separating the urine and faeces, the volume of composting waste is reduced, extending the capacity of the compost chamber and giving an immediate source of fertiliser in the form of urine, which, when diluted 1:20 with water, is an excellent fertiliser rich in nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Diverting the urine away stops the compost chamber from becoming anaerobic and smelly and the addition of wood ash, after using the toilet, acts as a dehydrating cover material. This design used recycled plastic barrels as containers for the faeces, which ensures no ground pollution. Once nearly full, the barrel is moved aside and replaced with a fresh barrel. With the hot composting achieved inside the barrels, compost can be created in under 12 months in the Ugandan climate. The compost is used to enrich the soil around fruiting trees and bushes. Closed Loop Sanitation ‘Create no waste and produce a yield’ Re-alliance is not alone in advocating for compost toilets as a sanitation solution; Oxfam, Wateraid and Tearfund have also built compost toilets at various scales and the South African government is building them at a national level. However, when these projects are viewed solely as a sanitation solution, the production of compost is often seen as a problem to dispose of rather than a resource and the toilets are not well accepted. By integrating the toilets with existing food growing projects, the outputs are more likely to be valued and used for soil enrichment, increasing food security and biodiversity in tandem with improving sanitation. As YICE director Noah Ssempijja commented recently, “At last we may have found a solution to our poor soil fertility”. However, caution, careful management and observance of national and regional regulations are needed as untreated human excreta can transmit diseases. The myth to resist though, is that water-based systems are more hygienic than composting systems. With colonialism, the West exported the idea of flushing toilets as a clean, safe means of disposing of waste. But this denies the fact that adding human waste to water is a vehicle for pollution and disease if the water is not properly treated. The United Nations’ 2017 World Water Development Report stated, “In all but the most highly developed countries, the vast majority of wastewater is released directly to the environment without adequate treatment, with detrimental impacts on human health, economic productivity, the quality of ambient freshwater resources, and ecosystems.” Unfortunately, the problem continues in the UK, with Surfers Against Sewage stating in their 2022 Water Quality Report that “Over the course of 2020 and 2021, sewage has been dumped into the ocean and rivers around the UK more than 770,000 times”. With proper siting and management, compost toilets are safe, as is the compost they create. Joseph Jenkins writes in his well researched The Humanure Handbook: “As long as they are combining their humanure with a carbonaceous material and letting it compost, thermophilically or not, for at least a year (an additional year of ageing is recommended), they are very unlikely to be creating any health problems.” Advice on the use of compost varies, many types of food have been grown safely from humanure compost, and Jenkins argues for its use on most food crops, but harm caused by mismanagement can also be imagined. As a result, the Centre for Alternative Technology recommends its use only on fruit bushes and trees, which don’t absorb pathogens up their woody trunks, and on ornamental plants. Pictured left: Winnie Tushabe and Jean-Paul from YICE Uganda with compost from their Ecosan Toilets Whichever system you choose, the benefits remain attractive: less expensive, less polluting and a creator of compost and fertiliser. Below is a guide for choosing a compost system, with references you can go to for more information. I do hope you find a loo that suits you, and, if you are considering a second toilet in your household, you might take the dive and go waterless. You’re sure to learn a lot along the way while saving money and water, reducing pollution and feeding plants. Which Composting Toilet is Best for You? For all the solutions listed here you will need an outside space for the compost to be made and/or stored and used, this could be a garden or courtyard. Container-based Compost Toilet inside an Existing Home or Building where Space is Limited This scenario would also include compost toilets inside mobile homes and boats. Here you can create a DIY solution or buy an off the peg unit. Both have limited capacity so are suitable for household scale use, but not larger scale frequent use. Pee, poo and toilet paper are held within a sealed container, such as a plastic bin, and covered with sawdust or other organic cover material. The container contents are emptied into a compost bin or bay, ensuring the top is well covered by organic matter. You can choose to include urine separation which reduces the volume of waste and creates a plant fertiliser; most off-the-peg solutions use urine separation. Several compost bins or bays will be needed to rotate between – one curing the other filling. Advantages: Cheapest and simplest solution to build. Useful in places with limited space. Can create fertile compost and urine fertiliser. Disadvantages: Emptying and management of composting system required. Examples of off-the-peg designs: Loveable Loo, Trobolo, Wee Hooses Compost Toilets. Further Resources Best book: The Humanure Handbook: Shit in a Nutshell, 4th edition, by Joseph C. Jenkins for pdf downloads Best online resources: - How to build a simple compost toilet Best overview of composting system: How to Make Humanure Compost with a Composting Toilet, Happen Films Compost Chamber Systems Here, the composting happens within the toilet structure, so more space is needed for building. The toilets are usually elevated above the compost pile, with composting occurring at ground level. The contents are usually emptied once composting has occurred, after 12-24 months or sometimes just left to rot down. Often designs include a ‘twin chamber’ system, where one chamber is filled while the other is left to compost. Rotated large containers can also be used to receive the wastes and then switched over for composting (as in our Ugandan Ecosan examples). Most designs include urine diversion, with the treebog as a notable exception. Advantages: No handling or transportation of wastes needed. Fertile compost created. Urine fertiliser can be used to improve plant growth. Disadvantages: Compost chamber usually needs to be emptied after 12-24 months (although with infrequent use, emptying is reduced). Toilet seat is elevated so steps or a ramp are needed for access. Further Resources Best book: Lifting the Lid: An Ecological Approach to Toilet Systems by Peter Harper and Louise Halestrap Best online resources: Centre For Alternative Technology, Composting Toilets Best video: Centre for Alternative Technology, Webinar: Compost Toilets, an introduction, by Louise Halestrap This article originally appeared in Permaculture Magazine, Summer issue 116: The magazine is available in print and digitally. Each issue of Permaculture magazine is hand crafted, sharing practical, innovative solutions, money saving ideas and global perspectives from a grassroots movement in over 170 countries. To subscribe from anywhere in the world visit: or call 01730 776 582 (+44 1730 776 582)

  • Introducing Gideon Adeyeni, Re-Alliance’s Newest Trustee

    Pictured left: Gideon at a gathering of young environmentalists in July 2021, where he led a conversation on the need for systems change and regenerative practices to address the climate crisis. The Re-Alliance team are pleased to announce that Gideon Adeyeni has recently joined our Board of Trustees. We would like to take this opportunity to welcome Gideon wholeheartedly, and to introduce him and his work to the wider network. The Re-Alliance Board In his new role Gideon Adeyeni will be joining Ruth Andrade, Gisele Henriques, George McAllister, Peter Mellett, and Geoff O’Donaghue, who are invaluable to the work that Re-Alliance does. The board has a range of responsibilities including determining the overall strategic direction of the organisation; ensuring that Re-Alliance fulfils its legal duties; and safeguarding the high standards of governance that align with Re-Alliance’s values, integrity, and reputation. Re-Alliance announced an open call for applications to join its board at the 2023 Annual General Meeting, to which all Re-Alliance Members are invited. Gideon nominated himself and after interviews with Re-Alliance Trustees he was officially welcomed onto the board. Find out more about Re-Alliance’s other Trustees and Core Team here. Gideon’s decision to join Re-Alliance, in his own words When asked to share why he chose to join Re-Alliance as a Trustee, Gideon shared the following: I am passionate about permaculture and regenerative practices. I am a community mobilizer and researcher, with interest in sustainability and livability. My interest in regenerative practices grew out of my inquisition about what we can do as individuals and communities to address the climate crisis and build stronger communities. Regenerative practices, I discovered, help in restoring the environment and strengthening communities. Gideon in 2015 during a research project he and his team carried out in rural border communities of Southwest Nigeria, exploring existing land management practices and potential for sustainable alternatives. Permaculture, as a regenerative environmental management and settlement design approach, became appealing to me immediately once I came about it as an idea. Perhaps the fact that I have spent the greater part of my years in the rural suburb of an ancient town of the Yoruba people of Southwest Nigeria, surrounded by evergreen trees of the regions tropical forest, which provided fruits and leaves for our meals and ensured that we woke daily to the beautiful songs of different bird species helped the appeal. Watching our forest depleted through the activities of illegal and irregular gold miners (which I once initiated a campaign against), and hearing of similar experiences in different parts of the world, from the Congo basin to the Amazon, further sparked my interest in forest restoration, and of course, permaculture. My growing interest in permaculture and regenerative practices led me to Re-Alliance, which, as I found out, is a network of “field practitioners, policymakers, educators, community leaders and humanitarian and development workers, sharing skills and experience to grow the influence and impact of regenerative development in the humanitarian field”. The decision to become a member of Re-Alliance grew out of a thirst for being part of a community of individuals who are committed to regenerative development and a sustainable future. I decided to take up the challenge when the opportunity to become a trustee of Re-Alliance emerged, with the hope that I could use my previous experience in a similar role to help grow the organization, while as well forging a more knitted bond with the lovely crop of regenerative practitioners who constitute the leadership and members of Re-Alliance, so that we can together make a sustainable world a reality. Aside from my youthful energy and creativity, I am hoping that through my membership of the organization and my being part of the trustee, we would be able expand an awareness of the works of Re-Alliance and to expand the network of regenerative practitioners in Africa and West Africa particularly, and by extension globally. Gideon speaking as part of the Africans Rising movement to advocate for commitment to radically progressive ideas in addressing the climate crisis, during the 2019 Africa Climate Week in Ghana. Looking ahead Re-Alliance is currently exploring ways in which we can increase member representation, decentralise decision making, and ensure greater transparency between the organisation and its network of members, in order to ensure that our members’ voices are heard and their needs met. As part of this aim, and with Gideon’s guidance, Re-Alliance is in the process of setting up a Regional Advisory Board, which will be populated by regional representatives from within the membership. We encourage you to get in touch at to share your thoughts on this matter.

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Other Pages (56)

  • Re-Alliance Members | Applewood Permaculture Centre

    Re-Alliance Members Our diverse membership, spanning every continent around the globe, has organically formed with representatives from over 150 organisations, united by a shared commitment to integrated regenerative responses to development, disaster and displacement. Our membership includes experts from regenerative design fields working within INGOs, Universities, Businesses, small and medium NGOs and self-employed practitioners. ​ Are you a Permaculture or regenerative practitioner, or from a regenerative project, working in humanitarian or development spaces? We'd love to connect with you. Membership to Re-Alliance is free of charge, and you can find out more about becoming a Re-Alliance member here . ​ This list is not a full representation of our membership, so if you would like to find a regenerative practitioner or consultant for a specific project located in a region you can't find, please get in touch . ​ Country Uganda Youth Initiative for Community Empowerment | YICE Working with youth, women and displaced farmers in rural Uganda to restore biodiversity, improve productivity and secure livelihoods. Read More Find out more Brazil Meli Bees Network Inspired by the Meliponini bees, Meli Bees Network aims to create environmentally and economically sustainable activities that allow both land and people to flourish. Read More Find out more UK Applewood Permaculture Centre Founded by Chris Evans and Looby Mcnamara, Applewood is a smallholding and training centre based in the UK. Inspired by the work of the Himalayan Permaculture Centre, it serves as both a place of learning and of demonstration for a global community of trainees. Read More Find out more Uganda Rwamwanja Rural Foundation Rwamwanja Rural Foundation works with refugee and IDP populations in Uganda - combining the principles of permaculture and social entrepreneurship - equipping them with the tools to provide nutritious food for their communities, secure their livelihoods and regenerate degraded ecosystems. Read More Find out more Greece Sporos Regeneration Institute Regenerating the environment, culture and human relations. Read More Find out more Location Organisation Short bio Read More Find out more

  • Food Growing in Camps and Settlements: Collecting, Storing and using Rainfall and Grey water

    < Back Food Growing in Camps and Settlements: Collecting, Storing and using Rainfall and Grey water This practical guide covers approaches to growing food in camps and settlements with limited water. Donate to Re-Alliance Stay updated with our newsletter Download for free: English English (Black & White) ​ ​ ​

  • Youth Initiative for Community Empowerment | YICE

    < Back Youth Initiative for Community Empowerment | YICE Uganda YICE was inspired by its founder Noah's childhood memories and love of nature and his own experience of being brought up by a single mother. After focusing initially on increasing agricultural productivity using conventional techniques, consistent failing crops yields led YICE to adopt permaculture as a guiding philosophy for its work, with remarkable results. YICE works in a very distinctive ecological context of degenerated landscapes and frequent drought, exacerbated by the effects of climate change and deforestation, and a social context focused chiefly composed of vulnerable populations, especially women, youth and IDPs. Through their trainings, Noah and his team support smallholder farmers to produce nutritious food, earn a steady income to support their families and regenerate the land in the process. They also provide a range of advisory services, from hands-on training to develop drip-irrigation kits and produce natural fertilizers, to financial and psycho-social support, the latter being especially relevant during the Covid-19 pandemic. Leveraging many years of experience in providing technical and hands-on support in the field of regenerative agriculture, designing and facilitating trainings and conducting baseline and feasibility studies, YICE is equipped to offer a wide range of consultancy services.

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