From Displacement to Permanent

In Haiti, displacement camps full of people left without homes after the devastating January earthquake are becoming more and more permanent. Deborah Gans argues that these sites should be more carefully planned to foster functioning places.

As planners in Haiti consider the idea of decentralizing those forced to leave the country's destroyed capital, displacement camos could play home to future permanent developments.

"To restore lands and create managed ecosytems, the United Nations has begun to experiment with the idea of camps as permaculture - a neologistic combination of permanent and agriculture that refers to a mutually sustained relationship among settlement, economy and ecology. In Zimbabwe, for example, at the Tongogara camp, 1,800 refugees farm cotton and indigenous and imported vegetables in labor-intensive plots of 1 to 3 hectares (2.5 to 7.5 acres) for their own consumption and profit. The UN uses the same strategies in both the camps and villages that neighbor disaster relief sites. The bio-engineering used to control erosion in the Beldangi-I refugee camp in Nepal, for example, came from a successful project in the adjoining village of Madhumalla, which was similarly effected by monsoon flooding. Subsequent UN-sponsored workshops brought together both local residents and refugees in their shared goal of land reclamation for commercial agro-forestry. The permaculture camp and the permaculture village are, ideally, indistinguishable."

Full Story: Haiti and the Potential of Permaculture

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