Tuesday 9 June 2015

News from Nepal

by Chris Evans, Himalayan Permaculture Centre

Damage to neighbours of Sunrise Farm
You will all have heard about the massive earthquakes that hit Nepal on 25th April and again on 12th May. It’s sobering to think that as permaculturalists we strive to design resilience into our systems, but here’s Gaia showing us that no matter what we do there’s very little to prepare for the forces of nature that rent herself apart. 

Nearly 10,000 dead (they still haven’t reached some villages and recovered all the bodies) and up to half a million homes destroyed and needing to be rebuilt. The emphasis is still on relief as I write this, and providing shelter the priority, with the monsoon rains looming.

Firstly and thankfully no one from the Himalayan Permaculture Centre (HPC) or indeed any of the permaculture-related initiatives have been hurt.

For HPC the loss has been of Sunrise Farm in Kathmandu which was damaged in the first earthquake and more so in the second, and will have to be pulled down. The livestock shed was also demolished and the various land demonstrations on the Resource Centre (RC) – the only functioning organic farm/permaculture demonstration and training centre in Kathmandu – were trashed when hundreds of people sought open space away from buildings (who can blame them?), and the farm – because it is a farm – had the only space around.

Refugees on the farm
Despite the priority for relief that is still current, thoughts are turning to reconstruction and not only about earthquake-resilient structures but also how these are integrated with other aspects of sanitation, energy, food security, finance and the like. The chance to rebuild in a holistic way presents itself as an opportunity to rise out of the destruction.
"The chance to rebuild in a holistic way presents itself as an opportunity to rise out of the destruction."

To this end various individuals and organisations are looking for collaboration to plan a permaculture response.

If people are interested to support financially or otherwise, there are 2 places I would recommend:

The Kamala Foundation headed by Zac Barton, a PDC graduate on his diploma pathway, coordinating KFs direct relief efforts that have so far provided food, tarps, bedding, solar lamps & phone chargers to over 800 households (about 4800 people), and looking to engage other related groups in a design for long term resilience planning – see above.

Sunrise Farm – to rebuild the farm as a functioning demo and training farm, acting as a Kathmandu Hub for the above initiative. SF is a partner of and supported by HPC. It has been a working demo farm for over 20 years, modelling Fukuoka non-till rice, SRI, agroforestry, bio-intensive no till vegetables, biogas and a host of other technologies to thousands of visitors, from tourists to remote hill farmers. 
To donate to Sunrise Farm you can go through the Permacultre Association's website here and pick Himalayan Permaculture Centre.

Both The Kamala Foundation and Himalayan Permaculture Centre/Sunrise Farm have opportunities for volunteers skilled in building (including architecture), engineering, healing (in the broadest sense), fundraising, IT/communications, and of course networking itself.

There are a host of other places to donate, most doing good work and some looking to link up with an integrated approach.

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