Wed May 4 18:08:57 EDT 2011
biggest ecology/environmment group in El Salvador.
Ricardo recently received a United Nations prize, a European prize and a
commendation from Nelson Mandela for CESTA's ecology work in El Salvador.
CESTA is divided into four main areas of work:
- GIA, The administrative body of CESTA. Handles media campaigns.
- EcoBici, Assembles bikes for resale, builds solar reflectors, wood
saving cookers, bicycle powered machines, solar dryers, small grain silos
- EcoMuna, Works with disadvantaged groups doing mainly social work..
- EcoPrima, Research work into the Ecological problems and solutions
facing El Salvador. Eco Prima is responsible for the development of
Permaculture within CESTA. They are also responsible for developing EcoCentro.
- EcoCentro, a 25 hectare ecology training centre about thirty kilometres from
San Salvador. EcoCentro is being developed strongly along Permaculture
My first job to do was to establish a team of people in Eco Prima
who could teach Permaculture. The team we put together were all highly
qualified people in their own fields of engineering, agronomy, soils, water
and plants. We developed a group of five teachers who's first job was to
run a four day Introduction to Permaculture course. I spent two months
working with the group to set up the course. The course was divided into
two weekends, the first weekend was held in the city where we did a lot
of theory and practical work of showing people how to grow food in small
areas using containers and wall space. The second weekend we spent doing
a very large Mandala garden at EcoCentro.
The second part of my job was to help train people to set up zone one and
two areas at Eco Centro. I was working with the team we had developed in
San Salvador and the workers at the centre. One of the biggest problems
facing El Salvador is the disappearing water table. There is virtually
no forest remaining in San Salvador and most of the water that falls in
the wet season runs straight off the land, into the highly polluted rivers
and then out to sea. So what we were setting up was different examples
of keeping the water on the land as long as possible, there by allowing
water to infiltrate into the soils and rebuild the water table. We used
swales, water tanks, ponds and clump planting systems to achieve this
effect. We also started the process of building a nursery for the plants
that will be used to develop the site.
The water system was designed to take all the roof water into a
freshwater tank for personal use, then to overflow into a live swimming
pool with plants and fish in it, then to overflow into a third plant a
fish pond shaped like a daisy to maximise growing edge. The clump
planting system had a two foot trench around the centre to take up all
the water for a guild of Luceana in the centre to fix nitrogen and mulch,
four coconut plants as deep rooted trees to take up deep nutrients, two
banana plants to take up surface water and nutrients and two papaya
plants to do the same. We adapted the design from Bill Mollison's
Permaculture Designer's Manual. We translated had large sections of the
manual Spanish, which was extremely popular!
We had planned to run a Permaculture Design Certificate Course before I left
in August 95, but two bouts of typhoid put an end to that.
I believe I learned a lot more than I taught in El Salvador. Before
going I believed big projects was the way to go. I now think small
intensive projects are far better, quicker, and have the possibility of
empowering communities far more than large projects, which need a high
degree of experts and bureaucracy. Large projects usually collapse when
the experts leave and really disempower people with limited education and
access to knowledge.
CESTA is also promoting a reforestation program in Guazapo, an area of very
heavy fighting during the ten year civil war. The area was destroyed
by chemicals used to kill the vegetation and bombs to kill the guerrillas.
The forest will be dedicated to all the people killed during the war.
CESTA is looking for Permaculture workers.
If you are an Australian interested in a two year paid position
please contact Daniel Knott at the
Overseas Service Bureau,
71 Argyle Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne Vic 3065, Australia
Ph: (03) 9419-1788.
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