USAID to Incorporate Permaculture in Aid Work

USAID Permaculture Technical Brief
(580kb PDF)

The growing food crisis has struggled to stay in the headlines since being highlighted broadscale in the mainstream media back in 2008, but it moves apace regardless, and I can assure you it will continue to do so, likely at a frightening rate. A 2012 Save the Children report shares that "Half a billion children could grow up physically and mentally stunted over the next 15 years because they do not have enough to eat" (BBC).

With this in mind, it’s excellent news that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID — "the United States federal government agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid" Wikipedia) is moving to incorporate permaculture design into its aid work for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). They’ve just released a technical brief (right) to help expedite this.

From the document:

The purpose of this technical brief is to provide an overview of permaculture programming as a response to food and nutrition insecurity for OVC. It emphasizes the role of permaculture as a sustainable, non-donor dependent tool for improving the health, food and nutrition security, and livelihoods of OVC and their families.

Specifically, this brief aims to:

— Define permaculture as a development approach and design process, and describe some of its key concepts and principles
— Explain why permaculture is relevant to OVC programming, particularly in the context of HIV, and list some of its benefits
— Explain the theory and step-by-step practice of applying permaculture design in primary and secondary schools
— Delineate the costs of integrating permaculture into school curricula, and into communities more generally
— Identify the implementation challenges and make recommendations on how to overcome those challenges
— Provide brief summaries on the use of permaculture in schools in South Africa and Malawi
— Offer a list of resources and networking opportunities to OVC programmers interested in applying permaculture within their specific country contexts.

This technical brief is not intended to offer an exhaustive review of permaculture’s methodology. Instead, it serves as an introduction to its principles, and provides initial guidance and examples on how it can be used to benefit OVC and their families. The geographic focus of this brief are countries in Africa with high HIV-prevalence.