The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) has been operating in Dadaab Refugee Camp since 2010, providing humanitarian aid and assistance protection, livelihoods, peace building and economic recovery. Refugees in Dadaab are mainly from Somalia, but also from countries such as Congo, South Sudan, Uganda and Burundi.
I work as the Regional Resilience and Livelihoods coordinator for DRC East Africa and Great Lakes region and bring systems-based and restorative design to various sectors throughout my agency. I have just spent three weeks here in Dadaab helping our technical livelihoods staff to learn about permaculture, passive water harvesting, soil building and indigenous biodiversity as we are kicking off a multi-year, multi-million dollar program funded by the European Union. The program includes development of markets systems and value chains for poultry, fodder, chia seeds, honey and market crops as well as fresh food for self-reliance. Due to security restrictions and the high-risk context where we are operating, I’m only able to spend 20 minutes at a time on each of our Food Forest farm sites and at the households inside the camps. This has presented the opportunity to use our office compound within the UN complex as a training ground for technical instruction and demonstration for our teams who will be tasked with rolling out these drylands approaches. We will have 6 large food forest farms across three camps within Dadaab, and establish small space food systems in 150 households as a pilot including smaller versions of the chicken compost system. There are abundant resources in terms of organic material in the camps and marketplaces as well as large volumes of waste water. I calculated that we have minimum one million litres every day of water from ablution for prayers since we are working in a Muslim community. That is 30M litres per month which means there is ample supply of resources to have massive food forestry established that will provide abundant organic food, energy, soil and water security to refugees and the host community, but can be designed in a way that also buffers people from extreme climate and weather events.
In this short 7 minute video I give a brief tour of just one corner of the compound where I have designed a Permagarden with double dug beds and swales that buffer our offices from flood and extreme temperatures. This systems includes a Chicken Tractor on Steroids, in-situ compost and liquid bio-fertilisers made from wood vinegar and biochar to hydrolysates we are making from fresh goat hide as well as cow and goat manure. The chicken compost system has been welded by our team and will be the basis of a vocational re-skilling activity for welding and metalworks students. A larger version will be taken to six farm sites and 150 households will receive the smaller all-in-one welded unit which will be a deep bedding system for fewer than 10 chickens. This system allows us to have a healthier, cleaner compound by making productive use of compound waste, and will improve nutrition and food diversity for our staff..
There are many more interventions through the compound not shown here including directing of AC drip waste in to banana/papaya circles, establishment of a “passion avenue”, using nothing but binding wire across the walkway at the staff housing foe planting passion, grapes and pumpkins to create shade. We have also made a big mulch basin for sugar cane to absorb the daily laundry water which has completely curbed the daunting mosquito issue staff were having in the compound.
Here is a longer 30 minute video of the current compound: