Has anyone worked with permaculture in Africa, especially Kenya? My church supports a national pastor in central Kenya, and his area seems to alternate between so much rain that it washes crops out, and drought so severe that they can't grow anything and lose even their livestock. The pastor is responsible for a number of orphans, an extended family, and the families of several young pastors who he is training and supporting as they establish churches in other areas. So he has a lot of people to feed. It seems like permaculture would be a big help in that area, but they would need resources they could read (the pastor does speak and read English, but most of his family and congregation don't). Someone is planning to go over there in a couple of weeks and get a truckload of maize for them, but that's not a healthy diet by itself, and is only a stop-gap measure. So ideas and experience are welcome. I'd like to find something quickly that I could send with the person planning to go over there, if possible. I do know that permaculture is being taught in Kenya, but doubt that the training is available to these people from poor villages (no money for travel, for one thing).
Good thing to think of using permaculture practices and applying principles in this situation. There might be some youtube videos in Swahili, there might be local organizations that are doing permaculure in the country. There are certainly some in other parts of the continent.
Maybe Joseph Lentuyoi, the name coming up in the "similar threads" link below?
The only thing that can really work well in that kind of climate is a tree.
You probably want to look at "Greening the Desert" (Geoff Lawton, I think), as a starting point. You grow things to accumulate water in the form of dew, soak it into the soil, and begin to start localized weather patterns. You can also capture large quantities in the soil, digging cisterns, but that's not going to last the whole dry season. Air wells is another option, not too pricey, google Ethiopian air well on youtube I think you'll find it. Or Willie Smits, he's done reforestation in Indonesia, he's on TED talks. Some of what he's doing may be applicable. I'm talking about doing maybe 1-2 hours of research here, not overwhelming.
I think you'll probably also want to make some hugel mounds--cut large branches off trees and leave the tree, or coppice it, cutting it off high enough that it will grow back (extending the life of the tree). Pile these up and cover with soil and mulch, then drop a cover crop on there (maize is OK, if you can bring buckwheat and sorghum they should do well). if you can't get any seeds in, then whatever they have locally that they were going to plant in the ground will do (probably a sorghum?) The hills will drain better than growing on flat earth, and it's simple and easy to start out. They'll also stay wet later into the dry season.
Good luck, maybe others will have better ideas for you.
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posted 5 years ago
I was trying to remember the name of the African man who is farming a fairly small plot in a desert area, and with swales and dry wells increased the water table on his land.
Thanks for the ideas. I don't know how useful they will be for Pastor Jonah, as I'm not sure how much access he has to the internet, but will see what can be done. I was really hoping for something like a translation of one of the permaculture books that would be useful in that climate, but there may not be one.
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