Help for Haiti from Permaculture

January 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Sustainable solutions in Haiti

haiti1We are seeking funding to send permaculturists to Haiti to help with the relief and rescue effort.  Below is a letter of introduction to funders.  There are two permacuturists thus far who we would like to assist in traveling to Haiti and we have the call out to many others.  If you would like to donate, please go to

This is our fiscal sponsor for Haiti and Pine Ridge projects.

13 Jan, 2010

To those reaching out with heart to Haiti:

I am a sustainability designer, and I’m currently teaching a course on urban sustainability in Little Haiti, Miami.   I am writing regarding the disaster in Haiti, in a plea to allocate some of the rescue monies towards sustainable recovery.

Permaculture design stands for “permanent culture” and “permanent agriculture” and is the science of designing systems to prevent disaster as well as recover from it.

I worked as a volunteer in the Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles and though in no way comparable to the magnitude of disaster in Haiti, there were a number of lessons learned.  One of these is that people are very receptive to creating new lives when given a strong hope factor that they can sustain themselves.   They are overwhelmed with loss and if they can be shown how they can recover quickly and do even better than before, it energizes them to not only help themselves, but others as well.  I’ve since assisted from afar with disaster relief in SE Asia and New Orleans and lessons learned from those places is that it doesn’t have to take years or decades to rebuild, if you have an affordable, realistic, strategical design strategy early in the game.   This is where permaculture comes in, because that is what we do best.

Permaculturists have helped recovery efforts in a number of areas of the world, such as the tsunami in SE Asia:

And the Macedonia refuge camp of 43,000 where Geoff Lawton designed water catchment and storage to eliminate flooding, and gardens, compost toilets, passive solar strawbale houses and food forests were also created.

An ongoing Haitian project is the building of compost toilets, which will be very needed in the disaster sites.  We are contacting them to see if they will be able to train others to build very inexpensive models of these as it will greatly alleviate the danger of sanitation problems as well as rebuilding the devastated soil of the region, but meanwhile, people can make a donation directly to their site.

As well,  there will be issues of water supply, food supply and shelter which permaculture can solve in the most sustainable way possible.  There is much confusion after a disaster, and permaculture design can help bring order in a way that will assist more rapid recovery, because it will put the elements of long-term sustainability there from the beginning.   Permaculture offers simple, low tech solutions to create a safe, sustainable water supply, to grow food rapidly from existing resources (cultivating local edible “pioneer” plants which do well in harsh environments, and gradiently incorporating a stable, sustainable, mature food system while those plants sustain people), creating sustainable shelter rapidly from existing resources (earth, fiber, rock, etc), and producing energy from available resources.  Our shelters are very earthquake and fire resisitant – we design systems to withstand disaster.  This technology is essential for a place as economically devastated as Haiti, and this is even more true after a disaster of this magnitude.  Why not rebuild in a way that will improve overall conditions for the long term?  Wouldn’t it be nice if a phoenix could arise from the ashes?

Some of the projects which permaculturists can design and implement are:

Short Term:

Building sewage systems, composting toilets, compost and recyclying centers, rocket and solar stoves, temporary shelters (perma-yurts), water catchment and filtering, and plant nurseries.

Rocket and solar stoves are key because the major ecological problem in Haiti which causes huge hardships from many angles is deforestation for fuel. Solar stoves use no wood and rocket stoves, which can be made out of old cans and pipes laying around, use almost no fuel and can cook with twigs.

Correct diversion of sewage, human waste, and water can substantially contribute to rebuilding farm land in the area – the idea is to create the conditions for long term self-sufficiency and abundance with even our short term handlings.

Long Term:

Permanent, low cost, earthquake resistant natural buildings, water storage, earth works, renewable energy, permaculture food forests, broad-scale reforestation, farms, aquaculture systems, and community buildings such as schools and health centers.

We are currently working via a worldwide network of permaculturists to bring resources to Haiti, and several permaculturists are interested in traveling to Haiti to help with the rescue and relief efforts, but need funding to do so.  We are in contact with disaster handlers in the area who they can coordinate with for maximum effectiveness.  There is a permaculture project existing in Haiti that we are working to connect with as well.   If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me – I am also willing to meet with potential funders to answer questions personally.

If you want to donate now, please use the “Haiti Donations – Donate” Paypal button on the right hand side of this web page.  For past projects we’ve funded, please see the Pine Ridge Lakota reservation article under “Projects.”   We will use initial funding to get people there on the ground and most needed resources such as equipment for building the short term items needed.  Whenever possible, we use existing resources in the area that are free or very inexpensive – permaculture is very effective at getting the maximum return for energy invested, so you will know your money is going to a good cause.

We will add donors to a newsletter that will specifically keep you updated on what we are doing in Haiti.

To an always better future,

Cory Brennan


Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

You must be logged in to post a comment.