Congolese Refugees in Nakivale Refugee Camp: “We Can Never Go Back”

More than 400,000 farmers have been displaced from the conflict in eastern DRC (Photo - TMoyles)

For over four years, *Hanna, a 33-year old eastern Congolese woman, and her family have been living in Nakivale Refugee Settlement, a UNHCR operated camp located in southern Uganda. She and her husband live in a semi-permanent house, grow maize and beans on small, scattered plots surrounding Nakivale, and are …

Continue reading

16 Ways to Say “Banana”

Atayo carring "matooke" -food bananas, from the garden.

When I first came to Kabale, a small town-centre tucked away in the south-western corner of Uganda, I was determined to learn Rukiga, a dialect belonging to the Bakiga ethnic group. I remember flipping through a copy of a friend’s English-Rukiga dictionary and scouring the pages for agricultural related words …

Continue reading

On Becoming a Bird Watcher

Be like the (yellow vented) bulbul - stop, observe and listen...

When I was a child, it wasn’t at all an uncommon experience to come home from school and find a wounded owl in the basement. The other kids in our neighbourhood in Lower West Peace were pretty sure my parents were running a zoo out of our small home. In …

Continue reading

Ghost Water Taps and the Failure of Development in Southwestern Uganda

A "not so fun" water play-pump in Rusoka -- in disuse (Spencer Huchulak)

By Spencer Huchulak “One tap…two taps…three taps.” This is what I was hoping to count to myself on Monday when I walked through town. Unfortunately, my optimism would be squashed. The day before, mzee, my host grandfather, described the water project he hoped to start in Kabasheshe. Currently, the closest water source …

Continue reading

The Chicken Feather

P1110121

It all began with the slashed crops. They lay dead in my tracks, barricading the pathway through the garden. The thick maize stalks were severed at their base. No way a cutworm could’ve sawed its way through the hardy stalks. No jagged evidence of goat teeth, either. I knelt to …

Continue reading

Un poco de todo agriculture

Diversity is key: evident in the garden and the harvest.

A little bit of everything equals diversity. Diversity, say agroecologists worldwide, is key to resilience. And resilience, as we all know, is what’s required to cope with and adapt to changing weather patterns. Large-scale agriculture, mechanized agriculture, industrial agriculture, modern agriculture, Monsanto inspired agriculture; however you wanna call it, I’m talking …

Continue reading

A Complicated Cup – Coffee & Poverty in Uganda

Early morning contemplations on a complicated substance.

I’ve been brewing (pun intended) over the subject of coffee in Uganda since the first morning I woke up and enjoyed a strong cup of Nescafe – coffee that was produced in Uganda, processed in the US and shipped back to Uganda for my own consumption. I haven’t yet written …

Continue reading

Oysters in my Closet – Propagating Food and Environmental Solutions

Planet Awesome.

A wee childhood dream came true last week: I’m growing oyster mushrooms in my closet. I was somewhat of a strange child, disturbed by Barbie dolls with their pointy tits and, instead, obsessed with pug-nosed trolls with electric blue hair. On camping excursions with my family, I’d scurry off into …

Continue reading

Humble Lessons from Landslides & Everything Permaculture is Not

The earth moves in miraculous, frustrating ways.

Last week I wrote about African proverbs, garden wisdom and the power of patience and confidence against what we can’t predict in life, including the rain and sun and whatever other element Mother Nature casts our way (or doesn’t). Oddly enough, all of the above manifested with extremity since I …

Continue reading

Germination & African Proverbs

Cucumber seedling that survived "cat landing" in my nursery.

Ugandans often speak in proverbs to make a point. My boyfriend, Atayo does it constantly. “Even if you don’t see any rocks on the road, you may trip over a stone,” he’s says with a cautionary tone in his voice. “What?” I respond, a bit exasperated. “What are you trying …

Continue reading

Women Who Dig – Runner-Up in Briarpatch’s Creative Writing Contest

Woman from Comitancillo (Photo by KJ Dakin)

Before we talk, we eat. Aurelia has laid out lunch on the long skinny table. She’s prepared dishes that give homage to maíz, corn – the food that defines Mayan-Mam cultural heritage of the Comitancillo highlands of northwestern Guatemala. There’s sopa de res y maíz, beef and corn soup, and heavy …

Continue reading

Local Author to Focus on Women Farmers

Comitancillo, Guatemala (Photo by KJ Dakin)

While resting in the frozen hills of the Peace Country a couple of weeks back, I was happy to digest my travel and research experiences and share more about my story with local reporter, Kristjanna Grimmelt. Here’s a link to a story Kristjanna wrote and published in the Peace River …

Continue reading

Her Worth, Her Work on International Women’s Day

Women digging, Uganda.

She may not seem significant to you because she’s holding the hand-hoe, feeding the pigs, or hauling broken laundry basket filled with carrots still clinging to the soil. But her work is the definition of work in the truest sense. She puts her intellectual, physical, emotional and according to some …

Continue reading

The Motorcycle Diaries – Research in Southwestern Uganda

uganda4

Anthropologists who study space and place often claim that one’s method of travel – for instance, flying in an airplane, riding a bicycle, or walking – has the power to uniquely shape their experiences and relationship with the land. Somehow I’m able to reflect back to their theory, as I’m pushing …

Continue reading

Permaculture Ethics & Practice in Sub-Saharan Africa

How is agroforestry playing a role in improving soil conservation in southwestern Uganda?

When people think about Sub-Saharan Africa, they tend to conjure up images of dry, dusty landscapes – flat, hot and bare – with field upon field of thirsty maize crops. In several regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, including the Karamoja District in northern Uganda, those stock images aren’t so far from …

Continue reading

Ugandan Grasshopper Season

Nsenene is a cultural delicacy in East Africa.

November is a month to harvest, de-wing, fry, sell, devour and celebrate a Ugandan cultural delicacy. Grasshoppers, or nsenene as it’s locally known, flood the humid airs of the year’s second rainy season, and Ugandan trappers take to the fields and streets in the masses. The days of November mark the rising …

Continue reading

How to Build ‘Majiko’ (Eco-Stoves) 101

Step 5

The majority of rural households in southwestern Uganda prepare their meals using the ‘three-stone method’. The technology is just as it sounds. Collect three large stones and gather them closely together in a triangle, start a fire in the middle (using the branches of eucalyptus and pine trees) and place …

Continue reading

Got ‘Underdeveloped’ Milk? – Part III

Nutrition assessment at KIHEFO. (Photo - Nikki Janzen)

There’s a queue of thirty-some people who are hoping to bring home milk for dinner at the corner store dairy, and only four employees behind the counter who are busy grabbing weathered notes and heavy coins from hands whilst filling plastic bags with what let’s call ‘white gold” in Uganda. …

Continue reading

Got ‘Underdeveloped’ Milk? – Part II

Milk - 32 flavours and then some.

I’m growing fat and nourished on unprocessed milk these days whilst living in Uganda.  I don’t have much of a choice, at least, not like I do in Canada when I go to the grocery store, and see shelves stacked with yellow, purple, blue and red plastic-capped jugs of milk, representing homogenized, 1%, …

Continue reading