Many of the displaced people around the world suffer from problems due to a changed environment. Paul Pholeros gives a Ted Talk about fixing houses and hearts among the rural, Aboriginal peoples of Australia. Many Aboriginal people petition the UN to be recognized as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Their environment has been changed with the introduction of a Western lifestyle, and more importantly invasive species. Camels are a large and growing invasive species in Australia, and flies feed on the camel dung. The flies gave the children disease. So Paul’s team contacted a fly expert, who suggested importing dung beetles to remove the camel dung before the flies could grow. Addressing the environmental problem was a huge success.
The best solutions that an organization can give, solve the problem using local resources by only providing the knowhow. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. When Paul and his team traveled to Nepal to build toilets out of local material, they noticed that the houses were overflowing with smoke. The families were burning copious amounts of fuel to cook their food. So he and his team found a way to collect the methane generated by the new toilets, and provide a clean, efficient source of cooking fuel.
RIJ tries to address the new environmental challenges that every refugee faces, using the most efficient, local resources possible. We are currently funding the “Environment Conservation Project”, which is focused on returnees in villages and primary schools in Kitgum and Lamwo districts in Uganda. Fifty households and four primary schools will be supported to establish and manage wood lots, orchards and vegetable gardens. Currently many IDPs in Uganda indiscriminately clear forest for firewood, the only way they know how. We believe that teaching refugees simple, self-supporting methods will improve not only their lives, but everyone’s around the world.