The term “sustainability” is misused all the time in the media, throughout government and corporate propaganda. It’s similar to the term “green”. People with little understanding of the environment and the true challenges facing the world are easily fooled by these terms. Dressed up as environmentally friendly or sustainable, many schemes, products, aid projects and concepts are sold to an ignorant public each year. Fooling the foolish is big business!
A truly sustainable system is a system that produces more than it uses. The only system know to humans that is truly sustainable is our ecosystems in their natural state. If you use the ecosystem up as part of your economy, eventually you perish from lack of resources or from some form of environmental calamity. For example, logging out a forest for a short-term financial gain creates, in the longer term, flooding, landslides, topsoil loss, biodiversity loss and eventually an uninhabitable landscape. As the ecosystem degrades and is destroyed, pestilence and disease are usually part of the result for the humans living there. The cost of repairing the damage far outweighs the original profit. Plenty of deserts started out as forests.
Poverty usually follows communities who have a damaged or destroyed ecosystem. Conflict and extreme disasters like tsunamis or volcanoes can also create instant poverty but most of the worlds poor live on land with a severely damaged ecosystem. Many communities were forced or tricked into cutting down their forests or mining their environments for a pittance. Once the damage has been done the environment unravels pretty quickly. I have a saying, “The stupid must cry and the stupid must die”. To destroy the system that sustains you indicates your intelligence level is low.
The aid industry has used trillions of dollars over the last 80 years to help the poor people but created virtually no sustainability. That’s an insanely massive amount of money! Interestingly enough, little or no results benefits the aid organizations, NGO’s, the UN and charity’s, as it keeps the donations and funding flowing to fix the ever-present poverty problem. Endless poverty is an excellent business for some people.
How do we intelligent humans change this situation and fix poverty forever? Can this money be channeled into a better way that gets real results in the field? If you look closely at where the aid money is spent you will find that it is mostly used on the “administration of administration”
To change a poverty stricken region into a prosperous region we need a systematic approach that repairs the eco-system, provides sustainable livelihoods, establishes year round food security and rebuilds the economy that supports the ecosystem, not destroys it. Using Permaculture, an aid project can help the Earth and help the people simultaneously. Its two-for-one aid and once its done, that region will stand on its own two feet and be truly sustainable.
Over the past 22 years of front-line aid work, I have developed and effective, permaculture-based system to restore poverty stricken communities and restore the environment at the same time. . This system is Permaculture Aid.
I’ve been successful in all my projects despite the hardships, perils and lack of obvious resources. When I look back on these impossible projects I see a common theme. I see a system that was implemented step by step and achieved the desired results. In some of the most desperate and extreme environments in the world, Permaculture Aid has proven itself.
The Permaculture Aid way is to use “evidence-based best practice” and begin repairing communities starting from the home garden and work outwards from there. We use “The Five Rings of Sustainability” to prioritize what we do and when we do it so people can “grow their way out of poverty”. We also minimize “administration” by having most of our people in the field. The boss of a project is always working and living in the field. We use trickle funding rather than lump sum funding. The project manager knows he has a certain amount of money each month to use and that’s it. This cuts waste and boosts creativity.
When invited into a potential project site, a permaculture aid specialist will conduct a reconnaissance and then complete a resource audit. This includes any possible resources that could be used for housing, farming, soil stabilization, transport or fuel. Many times people are standing on resources without recognizing their worth. A community that once built with timber seldom recognizes the value of earth or stones. Once the timber is gone they lose the ability to make their traditional shelters, but with training they can learn to design and build comfortable long lasting houses with these common materials.
Another thing we see in poor areas is farm wastes are usually burnt or dumped into a local river. The valuable manures of farm animals are uncollected. These waste resources, using LIESA (Low External Input Sustainable Agriculture) methods, can convert that waste into high quality organic fertilizers. These organic fertilizers restore the fertility of the land and soils resulting in the development of high yield organic farm and orchard systems. Prosperity and abundance follow on.
The other part of the resource audit is to audit the people and see what skills and muscle they have to put towards the rehabilitation of their community. The people are the main resource in any project. The Permaculture Aid Specialist must design a project where the local people grow their way out of poverty and take the necessary steps to restore their economy and infrastructure using what they have on hand. There is no one size fits all system. Each project must be custom made to fit the capacity of the people and the current situation facing those people.
Once the community leaders approve the project, the Permaculture Aid team moves onto a suitable site and set up a Permaculture Field School. This field school is where the community learns all there is to know about permaculture by creating working productive models that they will later install in their own communities. The field school is a real farm with all the activities the community needs to learn in progress.
The minimum time to make a substantial impact on a community’s poverty is 2 years. The best is 5 years with a definite cut-off date. By the end of 5 years a community can have the first products from their forestry systems and have qualified trainers training trainers from their own regions. Working your way out of a job is our job in Green Warrior Permaculture.
Permaculture Aid can be conducted by individuals on a personal mission, or on a sponsored project by a charity or donor. NGO’s have been successful using Permaculture Aid and get best-ever results in helping desperate communities. The UN and government agencies can deliver Permaculture Aid but it eventually puts them out of a job so don’t hold your breath. I’ve worked for both and its hard work dealing with their mentality. The best way I’ve found is CSR, or Corporate Social Responsibility. This is where a corporation pays a Permaculture Aid Specialist to deliver aid to an area or community as part of its good will or returning to the Earth some of what it’s taken. Using this model the project manager gets a specified amount of money per month and delivers agreed outcomes to get the next months budget. The less interference from the donor, the better. A Permaculture aid specialist must have flexibility in the field to meet the changing arena during an aid project.
If you are interested in learning to be a permaculture aid specialist, contact us here at Green Warrior Permaculture. Email Steve Cran at email@example.com