ECHOcommunity Conversations

Anyone working in refugee camps?

I am looking to network with anyone who might be doing agricultural development inside refugee camps. This could be community gardening, yard gardens, or any other type of gardening within a refugee camp. We are looking to start agricultural development in the Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh and would like to hear what you are doing.


Here are some ECHOcommunity topic helps for the conversation

Dr. Culhane visited the region to install our food waste to fuel and fertilizer solution with some students, and one in particular named Angela who had contacts and access in the area. We could potentially schedule a return trip.
(813) 331-7170

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This EDN article is not about refugee camps, but it may provide some ideas that are helpful: I would be willing to have a dialogue about what you hope to do, more as someone who loves the concept of gardening in difficult contexts, rather than as someone who has concrete answers. I also have a friend, Buzz Durham, who is not yet a member of the ECHO Community, but who would also be willing to provide ideas and in-sights from the gardening work he has done in many contexts. Here is a link to the blog I was posting to regularly while I was working in Haiti: http://markandjenny–

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I am with an organisation called Permaculture for Refugees. Our mission is to introduce permaculture principles and strategies to refugee situations, through bottom-up processes, i.e. refugee-led community development.

We understand that traditional agriculture using monocultures and heavy inputs is not sustainable, and that circular systems using our resources wisely in integrated design is key, and that land care and people care go hand in hand.

Our immediate aim is to apply a new approach to refugee camps and settlements, one that transforms them into integrated hospitable places where all can engage in productive activities and clean green environments.

We are working with Bangladesh Permaculture Development and holding our first Permaculture Design Certificate in Ukhia camp in January.

Our website: is still under construction. we also have a Facebook page:

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World Vision Kurdish Republic of Iraq (KRI) office introduced permaculture design into the Syrian refugee camp in Galiwan. It would be worthwhile reaching out to their KRI office to learn more.

Hi all,

This is such a worthwhile conversation. Thanks for the chance to offer a few words based on the experience of working for 4 years with an organization planting a wide variety of agroforestry trees in Northern Uganda, near the border with South Sudan (

Uganda is now home to probably over a million South Sudanese refugees, and our work has brought trees to refugee settlements in an attempt to meet a few basic needs. To date we’ve had success with several species of native, fast-growing timber trees that provide good firewood in the form of fallen branches. Perhaps more significantly, moringa (both the familiar oleifera, and the less well-known stenopetala) have now been planted in the parcels of thousands of refugee families in Northern Uganda to provide basic nutritional supplementation, a perennial vegetable in the form of moringa leaves.

This simple strategy has been quite effective. A significant share of the success owes to the capable work of the local Ugandan managers of these settlements.

I can imagine that in Bangladesh it would also be feasible to establish moringa in refugee areas. These can be planted as quick vegetables in a home garden, edible hedges between parcels, etc. Having many seed-producing trees throughout a camp is hugely beneficial, and in many areas of the tropics seed production starts in less than two years. In most parts of the world where moringa isn’t known, there can be a need for education of settlement/camp residents by those implementing a planting initiative so that the benefits of this plant are delivered.

Thanks again for the important thread.


Robin Van Loon
consultant for Wild Forests and Fauna
director of Camino Verde

Thank you all for your valuable input and resources! Suddenly it feels like we’re not out there alone. I agree with you Robin, this is a valuable conversation. There is no reason for refugee and IDP camps to be bleak and formidable. Let’s make this our new frontier, changing them to more peaceful and gentler eco-scapes.
Edward Martin
SALT Agri-Plus

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Hi Edward,

I am working with Ywam out of Burtigny in Switzerland. I know that Ywam is doing quite a bit of refugee work not necessarily Agriculture. Would you like me to enquire what people are up to? Ywam’s humanitarian work begain in the 70’s in the refugee camps in Thailand so there are some amazing people to link you with potentially.


I know of Global EcoVillage Network (GEN - see [FB page] that have GEN Emergencies (EmerGEN) try emailing Also try Permaculture Resarch Institute and Lemon Tree Trust. Finally I’m a member of the Blueprint Alliance that doesn’t do emergency response but longer term design for refugee settlements & others.
Hope that helps,
Chris Evans

Hi Edward, I was there 6 weeks ago. Not inside the camps but outside. Happy to share what works in that area. I prefer to take the conversation offline.

Hi, Robin and everyone

The World Agroforestry Centre ICRAF is also working in settlements in Uganda. Lots of learnings.

My email is

Hello Ruth, Permaculture Institute Thailand is interested in helping you with this.
Contact me tp discuss if you are interested in more.

Hello Edward,
I would like to discuss your project with you more with the view of supporting it.
Permaculture Institute Thailand

Thanks, We are piloting perma-schools in camps in Bangladesh, Greece and Turkey, over next six months. Steep learning curves and very challenging… we are building our toolkits and looking for writers and teachers with experience in camps, to share their successes and challenges.
Thailand, climatically, is similar to Bangladesh so particular regional information and insights would useful.
Many thanks
Ruth Harvey

Hello Ruth,
we have been working with Aid in Hill Tribes in Northern Thailand. We are located in Thailand and can help, we have Permaculture Aid courses in SE Asia (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia) see our webpage on Permaculture Aid at

hope this helps,

The GFRAS Issues Paper 2 may be useful in refugee situations.
Migration and rural advisory services by David Suttie

This work sounds very exciting. The concept of “This simple strategy” is, I think, the heart of what makes me appreciate everything else you mention. I had a friend and colleague (from a different organization) ask me recently why there was not more widespread adoption of the vegetables their program was promoting. I asked what types of vegetables they were promoting and she mentioned carrots, broccoli and several other annuals. The program works in mountainous areas of Haiti where broccoli can grow, but it is still subject to all of the pests and more that people deal with in the United States.

My colleague also shared that they were also promoting moringa (M. oleifera), but that there was no apparent effect on the nutrition. I believe that that is where adding some simple information and strategies can flip the use of moringa from being marginal to being exponential.

I also appreciate the mention of “edible hedges,” which gives me the image of thickly planted trees, together with seed trees planted, perhaps, with more space. Very cool. Using dense plantations of moringa, 0.5 meter spacings, within and between two to three rows, can provide a lot of moringa shoots in a small space. Also, from our experience, the moringa shoots, not the mature leaves, are the most palatable and the most easily incorporated into native dishes (corn or rice-based) in sufficient quantities to make a nutritional difference.