The Basic Plan

We’d love some external viewpoints on “the plan.” Over the past 2 years, the war-affected women of Life in Africa in Kampala have been working together to visualize a viable plan for moving their families back home to the war-ravaged Northern part of the country. The plan they’ve developed represents their collective vision for how they can best support each other through their individual transitions, and contribute as a group to rebuilding their community and culture.

The main thing missing from the plan has been the money to implement it. In March-April of this year, I'd like to help them change that. We're going to need a lot of help in making sure that the Phase 1 fundraising strategy is successful, because it's urgent - they are being forced out of their current homes, and the homes they'd like to go back to have been destroyed.
Here's the plan they've come up with so far.

Phase 1: May-August 2014

Construct a centrally located community center that enables 30 women to prepare their family homes
Action plan:
- Purchase 4-5 acres of land in Kitgum District (within +/-1 hour of 22 members' former homes)
- Construct 2 large huts for communal lodging
- Purchase 4 oxen and 2 ploughs to be shared by the women for tilling their own land
- Start a piggery project, whose profits will provide an ongoing fund for transport
- Plant 1 acre of pig food, and 2 acres of human food using new agricultural techniques they can also apply at home
- Schedule 60 Kampala-Kitgum roundtrips, so that 22 fields get tilled, planted, weeded and harvested
- Stock up on foodstuffs to eat before the first harvest

Estimated Budget: $12,000 + crowdfunding fees and reward costs

Phase 2: September 2014 - April 2015

Support the resettlement of 30 families
- Logistical home-base support for constructing homes, continued farming and moving their families
- Offer support & training to children undergoing the transition back to rural life
- Find local enrollment opportunities for children to start school in Feb 2015
- Continued demonstration farm development at the center

Phase 3: May 2015 and beyond

Serve the local community with skills and talents that Life in Africa's members and global allies can bring
- Offer support & community building activities for transitioning children and youth
- Provide training opportunities for the local community: agriculture, beadmaking, tailoring, mushroom growing
- Organize a community savings program
- Invite allies from around to world to visit and work with the community for social and economic empowerment
So that's it.

What questions does this plan bring up for you?

What might you want to bring to the rebuilding of a post-war rural community?

Who do you know who might want to co-create impact with the new Life in Africa center?

All input and ideas are welcome as we continue to develop the upcoming crowdfunding campaign. Many thanks in advance!

What can we do together?

Well, welcome, everybody! Great to see you here.

[Christina Jordan] mentioned it would be interesting to try to get some interaction going between the Ci2i group and the community at large. While this project is super-interesting, I don’t really think we have much to offer in terms of either farming techniques or issues with relocation – we are, after all, a bunch of mostly white, mostly Europeans.

We do, however, understand appropriate technology. The idea here is that some of the best technologies around are a weird mixture of high and low-tech, yielding incredible efficiency. In your project, here are some things you might use:

  1. hexayurts. Invented by edgeryder Vinay Gupta (goes by [hexayurt] here), they represent a simple, efficient, sustainable, beautiful solution to the problem of providing cheap housing in many different sizes. In this video Vinay himself explains the logic.
  2. mesh networks. We tend to think that access to information – hence connectivity – is fundamental in the development of a local community. Mesh networks are local networks you can build from very little and use them to share Internet connectivity. [elf Pavlik] is currently involved in building one for the Italian city of Matera, as his project in the unMonastery (video).
  3. solar trackers. Are you going to use solar panels? [Marc] is prototyping a 100% open hardware and open software system to let panels rotate following the sun. This increases their yield by as much as 40%. 
  4. biochar rocket stoves. The idea is to burn small pieces of wood, producing charcoal that can be used as a soil amendment. Do you guys think you might have some use for something like this? This is still a prototype – [Darren] will be able to tell you more.
  5. OpenStreetMap. It's great to be able to map the terrain. Once the map is there, you can create as many thematic layers as you want (for example, a map of cultivars, or a map of water sources). Google does typically not cover rural Africa well, but there is an open source alternative called OpenStreetMap. In this community there are several people who have a lot of experience with OSM and a lot of standing in its community, notably [napo] and [simonecortesi]. 

Would you be interested in any of these? If so, let me tell you what could conceivably happen: your center in Uganda could become a place where we (collectively) learn how to deal with community owned- and managed assets. This is now interesting for Europeans: as the state retreats from some areas of service provision, people need to come up with the skills to build and maintain common assets. The UK in particular is looking hard in this direction – [CommonFutures] is specially active in this are. So, the Ugandan experience could become a place from which we in Europe could learn more. Thoughts?

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what can we do together ?

Thanks so  much Roberto for the detailed information that you have manged to put together.

We obviously will need most of these things. most times we do not just have access to such info which are really useful,and just going through these, I feel enlightened and already very excited. The center that we are setting upis in a kind of remote and rural area that will definately need such services. there is no electricity and if we are to be effective at all we shall need some kind of connectivity, which am sure cannot work without any source of power, so the solar thing is an abvious one.

I shall have to go through all the different links that you have posted here and will know excatly what would be the ones most appropiate in our situation, thank you for taking so much time and getting all these information through. When am finished with studying them , I shall get back  here.

As you have said, I already see the prospect of developing this into a very useful sharing place where the Western world can share with us ,we normally feel quite behind with so many things  and when a chance of getting more information comes in like this, we get very excited, so I must say this is a very good opportunity and am so happy that I have joined the edryders!

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A first suggestion

[gracia], thank you for your enthusiasm! But it is I, and all edgeryders, who feel privileged for the opportunity to discuss and try out such things with people like you. We think things like the hexayurt could be useful, but the reality is – no one of us has ever lived in one. If you live for a few months in a hexayurt (or use Marc’s solar tracker) you will be the first person to actually do such a thorough test, and this way you can help us make this technology better.

I guess it could work like that: together, we could try to explore the possibility of funding some test deployment of the technologies you are interested in. You guys in Uganda would be in charge of using them, learning how to maintain and make your own, and report on whether they work in practice and not just in theory: people who invented the technologies or understand them would be charged with deployment. The results of your test could then be used anywhere in the world – so, you would effectively function as a leader in adoption of appropriate techologies, and people would learn from your experience.

We could look around and see if we can find a little money to bring to your place the relevant materials and a person to help you get started. I can’t promise anything, of course – we have never tried this line of work. But maybe [Christina Jordan], [Nadia] or [Irma Wilson] will know where to start. What do you think?

small correction

Hi [Alberto] - thanks for your post. Lots to explore!

Just one small correction: this is not a Ci2i Global project. Ci2i is a different group. While it’s of course possible that some Ci2i folks may wish to collaborate on this, Life in Africa is a community that’s been around for many years. The LiA community used to be active online at the community but then that platform closed, and the search has been on for another space within which to house their international communication/collaboration ever since. While specific technologies may or may not be useful in the rural Ugandan context (I will leave my Ugandan colleagues to determine that), sometimes - as I’m sure you’ve experienced - simple feedback, moral support and the exchange of ideas/questions can be useful in helping projects to gain shape and momentum.

Noted :slight_smile:

Noted with thanks :slight_smile:

Thanks Alberto

I do think that you have good suggestion to have solar trackers,biochar rocekt stove… in our site and these are the equipments  we shall need when the center is  already in existance.

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Good stuff

Thanks for the encouragement, [Ndelo Peter]. See where we go from here.

Solar trackers


If you need some information about this solar tracker project I would be happy to help.

We are developping right now a first prototype here in Matera, Italy. One of the main purposes is to make it as simple as possible so that people can build it themselves.


There is need

Hi Marc,

Thank you once again  for showing interest in helping us get the infromation about  how solar tracker

might be possible to set. indeed I would like more   information about the solar tracker. This may not only help us in the center

where we intend to set but this is most people here in Uganda would to have as a substitute of electricity which is not very relaible.

I would be happy to learn more.

Thank you


Solar tracker information

Hi Peter,

We are currently developping the prototype so it doesn’t exist right now but what we are focused on is :

  • All parts of the system (mechanics, electrics, electronics, software) should be as simple as possible so that everybody can build it.
  • All parts of the system will be open-source and well documented.

At the moment I’m working with a high school here to design the mecanics. As soon as we have something concrete I will publish it.

If you have specific questions feel free to ask me.




I’m going to show no enthusiasm for this at all, as it is a real life adventure and hence fully serious. I wish you luck and if we can help from such a distance (6000 km), then of course some of us will give it a good try!

First, some questions: 30 women is how many people in the full set of (I guess somewhat interlinked) families? All in good health, or maybe not all can walk long distances and some need medication, etc? I ask this to try and quantify things like food, yurts or whatever, transport, etc. The model I’m using is Vinay’s - not in concentric circles but in spreadsheet format: one row for each need (protection against too hot and too cold, food and water, protection from disease and agression, transport, communications, etc), and the first column has the quantities needed: how much food and water per day, how many square meters of shelter, etc. We’re not there, you see!

Why 60 roundtrips? Is that a number of people x a number of trips? I’m confused with this piece of data. Also, what are the trips for exactly? Couldn’t some people stay there for some time, to avoid the trips?

Have you already physically looked at the land? What’s it like, and where approximately is it located? (I see: 400 km north of Kampala. Roads may make that a much longer trip.) Is it one block of land or several small patches? (You say 22 fields, but are they separate?) I’d tend to look at it in “emergency permaculture” terms, with a view to design a fast start into basic productivity without compromising long-term fertility. The obvious questions are where, climate, water sources, other living entities there (cattle, wild animals, humans of different level of friendliness). You say you want to use “new agricultural techniques”, and it makes me wonder what these techniques are. I’d be glad to look for permaculturists near where you are, and ask specific questions on your behalf in an online course I took last year and which, apparently, we older students will be allowed to take this year too (forum included!). (Ref, @geofflawton_ in twitter.)

Pigs. We need to look into George Chan’s work, maybe.

In short, if we could have some basic data, and if we could know the profile of the people who are already helping you technically, we could try and behave complementarily to whatever you have. I’m just in the very first steps of the process of learning what permaculture is about, but: I could ask the more experienced ones, and we could try and look into what needs to be asked of the situation itself to help with local thinking.

I’m a public health doctor, not an agriculturally experienced person at all. This means two things. The first is I have difficulty in telling a potato from an onion without help, but I can learn and search the internet. It also means I can look at the public health concerns of the region, if that helps.

Communications: is there good phone connectivity at that place? Frontlinesms might be useful if needed.

One last suggestion: video. We might look into what folks do, to document stuff and send that documentation to helpers, donors, and interested people in general. This might be thought of since the onset, in order to include it as part of the crowdfunding: videocam (and transport to hub) needed, reports promised, or whatever. Also, for connectivity, Smari has some experience with chickenwire antenae - not sure if that has been mentioned.

So, to summarise: there are lots of potential ideas floating around, but to nail them into the specificities we’d need some more local information (people, place, needs, haves) if at all possible. Thanks.

(Forgive the messiness of my post. This project elicits many questions and ideas and I find it hard to frame it in an orderly fashion right now.)

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Thanks to [LucasG] (aka “the good doctor”) for this very generous, very thoughtful response. [gracia], [Ndelo Peter], [Christina Jordan]: do you have any answers for Lucas’s questions?

Some clarifying info

Dear Lucas -

Indeed, under current circumstances this is not a project to be “enthusiastic” over. I am, however, very inspired that my sisters at Life in Africa have come up with a plan that seems to fall within the realm of what feels possible to them. I’ve seen Peter’s response to your questions but worry that the numbers-related questions you posed remain fuzzy. I hope the following context will help to make things clearer.

Approximately 1.2 million Acholi people were displaced by the Kony war, which meant that the entire rural population of Northern Uganda was cleared from the land and put into IDP camps for 15-20 years. About 5 years ago, the government began closing the camps (in some cases rather abruptly, with unannounced bulldozers), leaving families to return “home” with very little in the way of assistance in finding their ancestral land, rebuilding their homes, or clearing the land to plant food. Approximately 5,000 families made their way to the capital, where they were invited by the local tribal king to take refuge on Kireka hill, near the rock quarry. Over 2+ decades, this evolved into the peri-urban slum that is now called the Acholi Quarter.

There are many organizations working to help families in the Acholi Quarter, especially with income generation opportunities and health issues. Life in Africa is a community based organization there, with/run by 30-35 women who love and trust each other, and who have been convening at least weekly for the past several years to support each other in their daily lives and to prepare together for going home. They have learned many skills together which they feel can be useful in restarting their lives at home, however, raising enough money to do so, and figuring out how to make things work logistically are challenges that every family faces.   First and foremost, this plan they have been developing is designed to help navigate the logistical challenges inherent in managing their family’s ongoing lives in Kampala (earning income, keeping children in school, etc), while simultaneously getting enough food and lodging prepared 400+km away to be able to move their families home to. At the $1-2 per day that they earn in the quarry, it is difficult to save much (though they have been saving) and moving their families into the wilderness to camp for 6 months or more just isn’t a viable option.

The majority of these 30+ women have land available to them through their husbands’ families upon which to build new homes and plant food to sell or sustain on, but in most cases there is nothing there now. Before they can move their families they need to begin with clearing, building and planting food - all of this takes time, effort and money. The Family Transition Center would initially offer them a free place to sleep and eat while they work as a team to prepare the minimum that each of their families will need to survive. Unfortunately, none can afford to go for very long without also earning income to feed their families back in Kampala. The 60 trips estimated indeed refers to 2 trips each for the 30 women, which will help them to each schedule blocks of their time for this teamwork between July when the next planting season begins, and December when the current school term will end. During this start-up phase this scheduling will be arranged to provide a constant presence at the new Center, with teams of women overlapping and traveling out by day from there (30 min - 1 hour from the Center) to the 22 nearby family homesteads to work.

Some of the women (especially the single, divorced and widowed mothers in the group) do not have land available for them to go home to. They would ideally like to resettle near each other, on land at or near the Family Transition Center.  Based on a recent phone call I had with Grace, I would assume that the 8-12 families Peter mentioned is that minority who will stay there more or less permanently. Given that number (which has emerged as a new factor now that "the plan" is closer to becoming real) Grace also suggests that they plan to buy an additional 2 acres with the Center start-up budget we raise.
The specific land has not yet been identified, but land is readily available in the region as people are cash poor and willing to downsize some of the larger farms that existed before the war. I love the resource you've pointed to, and would love for Grace to understand how she can use that as a tool for selecting the land to invest in, from what I assume will be a number of choices. The way things work, however, no decision can really be made on land until the money is in hand. With cash available, however, things can move very quickly.  My understanding is that the ladies would like to look in the area outside of Kitgum town, as the schools there tend to be better than elsewhere, and basic infrastructure like roads and water points would be more readily available. Electricity is unlikely to be there without significant investment. Cellphone coverage is spotty, and could play a role in deciding on the final location. Connectivity most often routes through the cellphone coverage in Uganda these days (and is almost always quite slow)
With regard to starting a piggery, there is at least one member who has been successfully breeding and raising pigs for the past several years, so that knowhow exists within the community. 
With regard to agriculture, Peter forgot to mention that our mutual friend Biplab Paul has already committed to joining in this effort, as part of his current drive to globalize an innovative irrigation technique he's been using with farmers in arid regions of India. There is unfortunately very little local knowledge about permaculture principles, but an avid desire and need to rebuild a local agricultural knowledge base.
Peter and Grace are currently reaching out to Life in Africa's allies around the world with the news that we're moving ahead with this and an invitation to become involved, so we will see in the coming days what else emerges. 
This is all I have time for just now. Thank yo again, Lucas, for the opportunities your questions have given to clarifying some of the issues. 


Welcome onboard Lucas, with such  important questions that I belief  is healthy in this   transitional CENTRE.

To begin with how many people in the full set, between 8-12 people with mostly children, that is approximately ninety six people. However not all these ninety people are moving right away to the transitional CENTRE once its established, The idea is to have the thirty women get set up like homestead not just sitting but try to learn what they could have lost twenty years ago And the reason is we wouldn’t want to be taken by surprise like the war happened since there is already a serious signal that people must leave the internally displaced persons camp here at the Kireka suburb which is just few meters to the city CENTRE, the portion has already been sold to the developer and it’s just a matter of time-boom to explode. If by the Grace of God it explodes when the thirty women are already at the centre with few or more activities taking place, the other Sixty six extended families would have easily find their ways to a place they already know.

Health wise, I strongly say that all the people we are talking about here are in good health and able to walk the usual African distances but health is not what anyone can guarantee, people fall sick now and then and medication is what is always needed in a community like one we are discussing about. For the food bit of, we had thought the women would improvise as an individual and   as part of their contribution to this strategy though as community we would also have some incentive to this cause.  I can say that apparently there is no good source of water but these are one of the things we are to survey where we intend to put the transitional CENTRE in and Grace is already up in the North survey such. So this is just a good question to navigate through.

I think you are just right to get to know about the idea. The 60 round trips are basically shall be women’s movements from the city where they are soon going to be displaced from to where we intend to put the transitional CENTRE. Remember the other sixty six family members could be still in the city to cause these movements until finally they are settled. May be to avoid many trips, this is what we can advised on and I do believe is the reason we need every one’s input to make things work.

Land, there are available pieces of land that Grace has identified strategically centered for better linkages of women  to their home villages where they intend to move to. The 400 km is actually long but its unavoidable because Kampala is where currently these people are living and North is where their ancestral homes are that they fled many years ago and now another push factor is pushing them to go back under all conditions. The twenty two fields are basically intended to be in each district where these women are coming from because they actually not from the same districts. In terms of new farm technology, may not necessarily be new as such but better methods like ox-plough, vaccination of pigs, spraying of crops and among others because ideally we here in Uganda still use simple tools like hand hoes to even on a large piece of land and the survival of crops and livestock in God’s hand, so we feel that in this transitional CENTRE, we improve on such as learning mechanism to the women.

Technically we do have some agricultural experts here to help and who can collaborate with People like George Chan you have mentioned here to guide us in making this work better.

Many thanks

Contacted OneAcreFund, no luck there at this time.

I contacted and told them about this initiative, hoping maybe there could be some help. Turns out they are in early stages of planning for a pilot in Uganda, but not soon enough for our purposes. Maybe further down the line, but not now. Ah, well. (They are pretty solid but their approach takes time.)

Next contact point in my slow (sorry) list is permaculturists. shows some contacts. 14 profiles, of which one is repeated. Maybe there could be a way for some of you to meet there? (I don’t know them.) Nearby countries?

The third thing I’d like to do is to try and look at some permacultural design elements and possibilities. I’m not an expert at all: took an online course, nothing else. But maybe if we know some of the starting point elements (the coordinates for a piece of land that’s similar to the ones that will be available, what plants and animals you plan to have, and the data you’ve already provided), maybe I might look into what other elements might go in the mix for mutual benefit. I can’t at all guarantee that I’ll be able to come up with anything, but I’d like to give it a try. Permaculture is about questions, and maybe I can ask my silly amateur questions and you can build on that? I’ll take a random plot and look at climate, rains, soil, etc. There are links to what the soil is like and so on. I’ll add what I find.'s new course (an enhanced repetition of the one I took last year) starts again soon, and I’ll want to ask my fellow students. Maybe Geoff himself. I’ll be some noise among maybe two thousand online students.

Finally, and this ends what I can think of regarding growing food right now (and I know permaculture is not just about that, but food does matter), maybe there’s help in,,, and (some ideas about helping others to grow food, rather than just growing your own? all helps!).

(More help in ? I don’t think so.)

Thank you Lucas for the effrots put towards this project. I think even if they would not be able to help now but even in  other stages of this project development because this will be the going cocern thing more especaily since they have a pilot plan in uganda.

Crops, we would like to grow crops like potatoes, maize, cassava and beans. And also rearing pigs and ofcourse oxen that will help with ploughing.

Any help is important.


Just wanted to share with you the story that appreared in our local newspaer about the said land. they are talking about compensation but this will be to only those who had builed semiparmnanet houses  in other part of the land but not necessarily the displaced persons camp. see below:


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NHCC to compensate Kasokoso residentsPublish Date: Mar 13, 2014

NHCC to compensate Kasokoso residents

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An aerial view of part of Kasokoso which is located in the Banda and Kireka areas, sitting on a hill off Kampala-Jinja highway, 5km away from Kampala. PHOTO/Abu Mwesigwa


By Mary Karugaba

The National Housing and Construction Corporation (NHCC) will compensate the residents currently living on its disputed land at Kasokoso in Kireka, Wakiso district.

Led by the Corporation acting Chief Executive Officer Henry Balwanyi, the team told MPs on Physical Infrastructure that according to the new developed comprehensive resettlement plan for Kasokoso, the residents will be compensated after the evaluation of the properties.

Those who may wish to stay and acquire houses within the redeveloped housing project will also be given first priority, according to the project development manager David Wanangwe.

“According to our plan, people who do not want to be part of the project will be compensated and allowed to leave peacefully those who chose to stay, their property shall be valued and appropriate compensation will be provided in accordance with the Ugandan law.

Wanangwe said residents who prefer compensation will be paid and given a timeframe in which to leave the project area to create room for construction for those who chose to stay.

The officials were appearing before the committee to explain the Corporation’s comprehensive resettlement plan for the Kasokoso residents who petitioned Parliament last year over what they called unlawful eviction by NHCC.

The 292 acres of land have been a bone of contention, which led to riots in the area and the arrest of at least 30 residents. The residents were protesting the plan by NHCC to survey and demarcate the land.

The residents later petitioned Parliament, through their MPs Rosemary Sseninde (Wakiso Woman, NRM) and Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda (Kyadondo East, FDC) requesting the House to investigate how the land in question changed ownership since 1966.

Wanangwe dismissed reports that NHCC plans to forcefully evict the residents. He said the residents will be given the first opportunity to be part of the project but “in case they don’t want to, they will be paid and allowed to leave peacefully.”

Answering the MPs’ concern on the cost of the new Houses and whether the residents will afford them, Wanangwe said the houses will be affordable to all classes.

According to him, the Houses will comprise of those for low income earners, lower middle income, middle income as well as high income earners.

“NHCC and Government will help the poorest people access affordable mortgages which can be paid over an agreed period with banks. After this payment, the person will acquire a title,” he said.

MP Waira Kiwalabwe asked the officials to explain how NHHC came to own such huge chunk of land and also clarify the reports that the land belongs to the Kabaka of Buganda.

The officials explained that NHCC acquired the land through a lease of 99 years in 1966. They also presented letters from Buganda Land Board clarifying that the land in question neither belonged to the Buganda land board nor the Kabaka.