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Alex McCausland 's Profile
Alex McCausland
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Konso, SNNPRS, Ethiopia
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Dry Tropical
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Strawberry Fields Eco Lodge

Strawberry Fields Eco Lodge

Karat Konso, ET


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Report on Follow-up Visit to Karat Primary School in October 2011

Posted by Alex McCausland over 12 years ago

We visited Karat Primary School as a group on Friday 28th October 2011...

We visited Karat Primary School as a group on Friday 28th October 2011. The group comprised Alex McCausland, Tichafa Makovere, Rhamis Kent (an international Permaculture trainer accredited by the PRI Australia) and five Permaculture students; two Ethiopians from Fiche, North Shoa, two Mexicans and one American, who were participating on an international 72h Permaculture Design Course at SFEL.

The work on the ground at Karat Schools was impressive and has been developing well. Effective rainwater-harvesting was infrastructure had been built using a range of techniques some of which were quite innovative.

Zone one gardens had been established in fenced off areas between the class-room blocks where some vegetables had begun to be grown. The previously built concrete drains running along the edges of the classroom buildings had been dammed at 3m intervals and holes broken into their sides so they would irrigate the adjacent vegetable beds with run-off from the class-room roves.

However there was not a great variety of vegetables planted in these beds. It was mostly limited to salad (which is generally not consumed by the school or the local community) and sweet potato, which is consumed, but it should be balanced in abundance with other crops. There was also a lack of mulching, with soil amendments limited to manure, but without a litter layer being added above this to protect the soil surface. Some new tree seedlings including papaya, banana and moringa had been established in these areas and some other fruit trees which were previously planted were obviously benefitting from the improved water availability and growing fast while also bearing fruit, such as guava and mango.

A well dug swale had been established and planted with fruit trees just below the school entrance and driveway. This was impressively mad and holding water well. A spillway at one end led into a series of infiltration pits also planted with bananas and likewise effectively holding water for infiltration into the ground. This area would correspond to Zone 2 in a Permaculture design. Another large area corresponding to Zone 3 was extensively planted with sweet potatoes and beans.

We used the visit to the school as an opportunity to deliver 250 tree seedlings including the following:

  • Leucinnea (a nitrogen fixing legume tree that can be intercropped with fruit trees the build soil fertility and provide mulch by “chop-and-drop”) (200 seedlings)
  • Mango  (5 seedlings)
  • “Kishta” (A local fruit tree variety 10 seedlings)
  • Siringa – A shade tree and good pioneer to colonise bare ground in harsh growing conditions (15 seedlings)
  • Moringa – A local staple food tree-crop (20 seedlings)


We also delivered metal-handled tools to the school for their use on the garden as a reward for their good achievements to date: 2 shovels, 2 picks and one hoe, with the promise to deliver more tools if they continue their good work.

We also asked to see the original design work which the teachers had prepared during the Permaculture training. It is usually expected of the school to have their “before map” and “after map” displayed so that people can see how the implementation is progressing relative to the plan envisioned. However when we went to the teachers’ office the design maps were not displayed and the teachers even had some trouble locating them. When the after mad was found it was clear that the implementation which had been done on the ground bore little resemblance to the teacher’s design. We would recommend on this basis that the teachers update their after map and henceforth keep it clearly displayed on the office wall.

Following the visit to Karat the group went to Gocha Primary School and delivered a similar load of tools and seedlings, although I did not go with the group so am unable to report on this.


Alex McCausland  02/11/2011

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My Badges
Consultant Aid worker PRI PDC Teacher
My Permaculture Qualifications
Permaclture Design Course
Type: Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course
Teacher: Richard Wade
Location: Permacultura Montsant - Catalunya, Spain
Date: Feb 2007
Type: Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course
Verifying teacher: Rowe Morrow
Other Teachers: Dan Palmer
Location: Strawberry Fields Eco Lodge, Konso, Ethiopia
Date: Jun 2008
0 PDC Graduates (list)
5 PRI PDC Graduates (list)
7 Other Course Graduates (list)
have acknowledged being taught by Alex McCausland
1 have not yet been verified (list)
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Alex McCausland has permaculture experience in:
Sub tropical
Wet/Dry Tropical
Wet Tropical
Dry Tropical
Semi Arid

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