Fairchar collaboration with refugee women in Kiryandongo, Uganda
Developing Fairchar regenerative carbon2soil process while offering refugees access to self-sustainable food production.
The opportunity to further develop our Fairchar regenerative carbon2soil process, in cooperation with refugees, came to our attention after being introduced to Adam Elhaj. As a refugee from Sudan, Adam received asylum in The Netherlands. Since then, he actively seeks ways to help his people who fled to Uganda during the wars and environmental disasters in Sudan. Adam is member of Fairchar and Founder of Exceed 24, our partner in Uganda.
Together we developed a plan for the implementation of Fairchar carbon2soil Kiryandongo: a natural farming landscape of 500 ha where our Regenerative Agricolture is applied on half-degraded land near the refugee settlement, in cooperation with 200 farmers.
In developing the implementation plan, extensive research was done on the state of the ecosystem, the soil, and the problems faced by the refugees. The local stakeholders and experts from our cooperative were involved in the process of designing a sustainable agroecosystem: an integrated agroforestry system using carbon (compost, mulch/wood, biochar) induced regenerative practices and permaculture.
In fact, egraded soils need large quantities of carbon to restore the soil’s ecosystem. The soil also needs different types of carbon to become healthy and productive again: fast releasing compost and manure, slow releasing woody materials and non-degrading biochar.
With this approach, we will be able to make the land allocated by the refugee camp management healthy and fruitful.
Exceed 24 has put together a local team to implement this project. The team consists of highly motivated people with complementary skills, ranging from local organic agricultural practises to experience with organising women in collectives and water management. Women were chosen to be at the core of the project, since they are most aware of the current and future needs of their children also in the context of climate change. These women are supported by our international expert practitioners, like our member in the south of Uganda, who runs a holistic farm. The roadmap, seen bellow, has been designed towards that large natural farming area.
Step 1 – The Women’s Garden (start Feb. 2022)
# 2,5 ha # 40 beneficiaries # budget: € 17.966
# status: fundraising (pre-fund commit: € 3.000) @indiegogo
Women’s Gardens or Community Gardens are a well-known traditional concept in Africa. The community reserves a piece of land for women to grow fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices to offer their family a healthy diet. Although, this concept has been neglected in the past decades, because of government policies favouring large scale commercial farming, it is being rediscovered to boost self-sustainability and resilience. Since, a key insight from Fairchar is that we need to have two key resources manged well to start the regenerative process of degraded soils, carbon and water are the main concern to get it right from the start. Water is well-known to all of us, and the use of compost and lime is understood by the women in Kiryandongo. So, a first step is to survey the land that has been granted to the team by the management of the refugee camp: to see how it can retain water better and where we can source water if needed. The second step is to find out how the soil can receive a carbon boost from locally available excess biomass. From that activity, we can create a good start for the women’s garden, growing locally available traditional and adapted fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices all year round. This Women’s Garden will be the testing & learning ground for Exceed 24, the refugee women and Fairchar to further develop our carbon2soil process and farming practices that are in tune with nature.
Step 2 – Demo farm (start 2023)
# 150 ha # 75 beneficiaries # budget: € 100.000
# status: fundraising (grants, equity, loan)
The second step will enable farming and the local production and application of biochar. In agreement with OPM (Office of the Prime Minister of Uganda) we can use 150 ha of land near the refugee camp. Central part of our plan to start the restoration of the area is the establishment of the Fairchar C2S centre. It is the place where teaching, experimentation, production, and processing is organised. In the Fairchar C2S Centre farming with carbon is promoted, taught, and facilitated: the place that radiates hope for a better future in balance with nature. In the demo farm, our carbon2soil process can be tested, improved, and validated. This means we will have a launching customer involved, will grow and collect residual biomass to turn into compost, mulch and biochar. In one year, 50-75 women (refugee and indigenous) are trained and supported to practice natural farming and ecosystem restoration on their allocated piece of land, profiting from the knowledge developed in the Women’s Garden. The intended effects are several; first of all, 50-75 women will have better access to healthy food for their families and a higher income, secondly 150 ha of degraded land will be restored to natural beauty and productive capacity. The two effects can be related to at least three major SDGs: 2 (zero hunger) 5 (gender equality) 15 (life on land).
Step 3 – Scale up (start 2024)
# 500 ha # 250 beneficiaries # investment: € 750.000
# status: fundraising (equity, loans)
Fairchar and Exceed 24 have the ambition to scale-up to a 500-ha area and has secured the agreement for that with the OPM. The natural farming area will grow to an integrated agroecosystem with a mix ranging from nursery to forest and from grazing areas for cattle to fishing ponds. The area will be large enough to become a closed loop self-sustaining land for 200 families to have a sustainable living and produce food for about 10% of the refugee settlement’s population 67.000 people. In this step the Fairchar C2S centre will prove its worth with educating another 150-200 women, support their start as a farmer, produce and distribute carbon-based soil amendments, offer processing of raw products and access to valuable markets. The carbon2soil process will attract the clients in the industrialised world to incentivise the women farmers for their ecosystem services and carbon sequestration services delivering substantial value on several SDG goals as part of SDG-contracts: 1 (no poverty); 4 (Quality Education); 7 (Affordable clean energy); 8 (Decent work and economic growth); 9 (Industry innovation and infrastructure); 10 (Reduce inequalities); 11 (Sustainable cities and communities); 13 (Climate action); 17 (Partnerships for the goals) . For Fairchar Cooperative this stage will help to mature the carbon2soil process, the eco-business logic underpinning the capture area of a Fairchar C2S to a level that it can replicate these to other areas in Africa.