Alex McCausland 's Profile
- Joined: 13/02/2011
- Last Updated: 19/10/2011
- Location: Konso, SNNPRS, Ethiopia
- Climate Zone: Dry Tropical
- Gender: Male
- Web site: www.permalodge.org
(projects i'm involved in)
Karat Konso, Ethiopia
(projects i'm following)
My Course OutlineDownload my PDC course outline
My Permaculture Qualifications
- Permaclture Design Course
- Type: Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course
- Teacher: Richard Wade
- Location: Permacultura Montsant - Catalunya, Spain
- Date: Feb 2007
PDC Graduates (list)
PRI PDC Graduates (list)
Other Course Graduates (list)
have acknowledged being taught by Alex McCausland
have not yet been verified (list)
Climate ZonesAlex McCausland has permaculture experience in:
- Wet/Dry Tropical
- Dry Tropical
About Alex McCausland
I have been fascinated by nature since child-hood. I grew up in London, but would spend the holidays with family in the west of Ireland, helping on the neighbours farm with milking cows, feeding chickens, fencing fields and hauling in turf for the winter. An avid Attenborough enthusiast, as a kid my favourite hang outs were the Natural History Museum in London and the ponds in Battersea Park.
My interest in nature has since given me an aptitude for the sciences, especially biology, and I was able to gain a place at Oxford University to study Biological Sciences from 2000-2003, intending to go into a career in “conservation”. In 2003 I graduated with a 2.1 BA degree, but had become fed up with the reductionism that pervades the conventional approach to life systems. I turned my back on academia and spent a year travelling, WOOFing, working on farms and learning about cultures and languages, during which time I became more interested in social and developmental issues. I subsequently took a post-grad in development economics at SOAS (London) in 2005. That year, I came across Permaculture and realised it was the holistic system I had been looking for, but was never been able to conceive myself; a paradigm combining ecological theory with social objective, community-based practical action and the holistic mindset that academia lacked. I finished the diploma, very bored t with Economics, and set off on another journey, WOOFing and working on farms in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In 2006 I came across Ethiopia. I was awestruck by the beauty and ecological wealth of the land in contrast to its economic poverty. I knew this was the place I had to work, to use Permaculture as a tool for conserving the environment and helping local communities.
In 2007 I took my first Permaculture Design Course (PDC) in Catalunya, Spain with Richard Wade. I then set off back to Ethiopia with my idea my wits and a bit of money to set up a “Permaculture Project”. I had no idea what I was up to; no training in business or project development, no idea how to write proposals, manage finances or people, keep accounts, hire staff, approach government offices etc. etc. Hence the last 6 years has been a very steep learning curve, struggling to achieve the better of two options in a very tough working environment - sink or swim. I have worked with a series of characters who have taught me a host of practical skills for administering a viable project in a developing country. The project we established was Strawberry Fields Eco-Lodge, which hosts Ethiopia’s first demonstration farm and Permaculture training centre.
We hosted our first two PDC courses in May and June 2008, which were given for free by Rosemary Morrow. I was also able to participate on these courses. The outcome them was an initial site design which we subsequently implemented over the following years.
In 2009 we were joined on the project by Tichafa Makovere, a Zimbabwean consultant and trainer of some 15 years experience. Tichafa stayed with us for 3 years, leading a total of 19 PDCs at our site. He managed the farm and gardens from January 2009 up until June 2010. (Since June 2010 I have managed the ongoing development of the site, including all the zones, with input and assistance from various different volunteers, interns and PDC trainee groups, as well as the local knowledge, skills and great physical strength of our staff and workers.)
Tichafa also lead the establishment of the Permaculture in Konso Schools Project (PKSP), a project formed in cooperation with various local partners. I was able to help him with the project proposal development and reporting on progress over the project’s lifetime, which was another useful learning experience for me.
In April 2009 my father, myself and some friends registered a charity in the UK, the Ethiopia Permaculture Foundation (EPF), and formed a board for the purposes of supporting Permaculture in Ethiopia. I have subsequently written a successful funding application on behalf of the EPF to LUSH, who have funded us £7250.00 for a new phase of expansion of the project – PKSP Phase II.
In November 2011 Tichafa Makovere left Ethiopia and I have subsequently taken on the role of facilitator for monitoring, evaluation and feedback on the PKSP Phase II. I designed and implemented a quantitative progress evaluation of the PKSP Phase II schools in February 2012 and subsequently produced a full report on the first 6 months of the PKSP Phase II which was submitted to the EPF and the LUSH Foundation in April 2012.
Since March 2011 I have participated as an assistant trainer in 3 PDCs, two of which were lead by Tichafa and one lead by Rhamis Kent. In December 2011 I have lead my first PDC as lead trainer in December 2011, a fantastic learning experience, drawing together all the knowledge I had been acquiring over the past 5 years and prior. Designing the course curriculum itself was for me a major design exercise of its own. I drew from my personal strengths; my background in Biological sciences and my experience of working practically on the training venue itself. I also integrated what I have learned from the various different teachers that we have hosted over the past five years, including Rosemary Morrow, Tichafa, Rhamis Kent and also Steve Cran.
In February 2012 I lead my second PDC as lead facilitator, assisted by Abel Teshome, an Ethiopian horticulturalist and representative of the Global Eco Village Network (GEN) in Ethiopia. We successfully integrated the objective of training a group of 3 international participants with the need of giving a refresher training to four local school-teachers working on the PKSP Phase II schools and performing the assessment of the PKSP Phase II mentioned above. We developed an assessment format which was filled in by the students as they visited four different PKSP project sites during their field-trip day. This was a useful observation and learning exercise for them and delivered us quantitative data for evaluation.
I also produced a successful proposal to the EPF for a further round of PKSP (Phase IIb) to be conducted in Jarso Primary and Karat Secondary Schools. We trained two teachers from each school alongside other self funded participants in May 2012. This was the third PDC that I lead and we have followed up with implementation on the school sites in July and September 2012. We have posted reports on these activities on the PRI blog. We are now implementing a 6-month program of monitoring and evaluation to follow up on the PKSP Phase IIb.
In September and October 2012 I also conducted my first professional Permaculture consultancy job. This was done for the Hafto Solar Community Water Project site project is a solar powered water supply facility in Hadiya Zone, South Ethiopia. The project was planned and implemented by a German foundation called Antonia Ruut-Schiftung (ARS) and is owned and run by a local NGO called SMART. The facility supplies water to about 1500 surrounding community members within an approximately 1km radius. ARS have planned to upgrade the community facilities to include a shower block, a laundry block and a toilet block with associated water treatment system featuring constructed wetlands. They called us in as Permaculture consultants to assist them with establishing the constructed wetlands and help develop diverse and productive food-production systems using the treated waste water. I have posted two reports on the design and implementation activities we did at the site on the PRI Blog.
In November 2012 I have also attended a 1 month internship at the PRI site in Jordan. In December 2012, I have just lead my 4th for a mixed international and Ethiopian group including local schools students, agricultural extension workers from Dembedollo in the west of Ethiopia and international participants.
From here I expect to continue to develop as a professional Permaculture trainer, working with local and international participants at our site in Konso, but also around Ethiopia and beyond.
Since my background is from a temperate climate I am well acquainted with the challenges of farming and gardening in the high latitudes. My first PDC, done in the Mediterranean setting was also instructive in this regard, though more concerned with issue relating to water conservation and management, appropriate to the dry-lands. For the last five years I have worked in Konso, a semi-arid Afro-Montane climate, 1500m ASL. That has helped me develop a real appreciation of the challenges and strategies for working in a degraded flood-drought hydrology. However I have also made frequent trips into the central highlands, which have much higher rainfall so are another climate all-together. This range of experiences across agro-climactic zones means I am well equipped to teach on topics relating to almost all global climates, the possible exception being the wet-lowland tropics which I do not have direct experience of living or working. Despite this a solid understanding of the Permaculture principals and ecological theory equips me well to cover topics relating to any part of the world.