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What: Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course with Lesley Byrne
Where: Rusinga Island, Kenya
When: December 4 — 17, 2012

Rusinga Island is one of the bigger islands in the Kenyan side of Lake Victoria. It’s the home of ancient fossils from before Homo Erectus and was once a green and luscious island, home of unique bird species and tall indigenous trees. The Rusinga Island of today is ravaged by deforestation as an exploding population tries to carve out a livelihood on the islands already scarce resources. In the last few years, the local community has for the first time experienced the total loss of harvest during the droughts caused by increasingly unreliable weather patterns.

The Permaculture Research Institute of Kenya (PRI-Kenya) has worked on Rusinga Island since the very first PDC was held on the island with Warren Brush. The PDC was held at Badilisha Ecovillage, now a PRI-Kenya partner demonstration site, run by local environmentalist Evans Odula. It was during this PDC that Evans got the inspiration for a reforestation project on the island, realizing that food security would never be possible unless the deforestation of the hillsides was addressed. Joining forces with PRI-Kenya and Village Vocations Programme, a series of workshops were held with the local community in 2010 and 2011, including workshops in FMNR (Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration). As a result of these workshops a Forest Farmers Self Help Group was established and volunteer forest guards were allocated to guard the hillsides to ensure that no more trees were felled.

This December, another PDC is going to be held at Rusinga Island, as part of the reforestation initiative. The PDC is run by PRI-Kenya, facilitated by international trainer Lesley Byrne and is offered to both local community as well as other Kenyan and international participants. The theory and practicums of the course will be integrated with reforestation and food security initiatives on the island and will include a special module on FMNR as well as a special workshop on medicinal plants, nutrition and growing nutrient dense foods to encourage nutrient rich kitchen gardens. Practicums will see participants working on designing and implementing a food forest in a local school and a nutrition garden in a local clinic as well as practicing FMNR on the hillsides in order to revive the growth of indigenous trees.

Thanks to generous funds from the charitable arm of LUSH cosmetics, an organic, fair trade and ethical cosmetics company, PRI-Kenya is able to offer 30 bursaries to local participants — part of the Forest Farmers Self Help group and the women’s groups who have been part of the reforestation pilot. The funds also enables us to organize a celebratory lunch for the last day of the course, when local authorities and local community members will be invited to see the presentations of the final designs and listen to talks on permaculture and the importance of reforesting the island. The last day will also feature a talk on GMOs (genetically modified organisms) by a representative from the African Biodiversity Network’s GMO campaign as a response to the increasing presence of the GMO lobby on the island.

This course is an important step forward in the fight to regenerate the degraded landscape of Rusinga Island and establish food security and climate change resilience. The course will also be a unique opportunity for international participants to experience international development first hand and share in a a learning journey together with local farmers as well as project managers.

There are still places available for international participants on the course, so if you are interested please get in touch!

Download the PDF Flyer (120kb PDF)

Contact: Sheena (at) pri-kenya.org for more information.

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