We support people to affect planned change in their own lives through the provision of high quality learning opportunities, rooted in sustainable & ecologically sound approaches to farming & human development.
Guba, meaning ‘to dig’ in SiSwati, was founded in May 2009 in an effort to improve quality of life with the people of Swaziland by finding solutions to life’s challenges using permaculture; a thinking tool for designing low carbon, highly productive human & environmental systems. This means growing resilient systems intentionally created for all life to thrive in.
Statistically, Swaziland is a small Nation in crisis. With an estimated 40% unemployment rate combined with 2 in every 3 people you meet living on less than E25.00 or $2 a day, the responsibility placed on those earning a wage is phenomenal. A struggling economy, 35.5% of our population under the age of 15 years, the highest prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in the world, over half of our land at risk from degradation, & with the percentage of people living on food aid set to increase from an already lofty 24% – you’d be forgiven for wondering how anyone can survive.
Our situation may be difficult but, like people all over the world, our aspirations & desires for ourselves & our children drive us beyond just surviving: we want to thrive! As with many other countries described as ‘poor’, short-term thinking has left many of us dependent on outside support, making us less resilient & ill-equipped to adapt to varying needs & a changing environment. In reality, we live in a country with an abundance of resources that, used well, could meet our needs & more. Permaculture offers a practical, efficient, ethical framework from which we – children, women, & men – can design & plan a sustainable future in which our families, & our communities, can thrive.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; & to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, & some style.” ~ Maya Angelou
Our servicesFollowing the permaculture principle of using small & slow solutions, we decided to intensively focus our work in our local constituency, Lobamba Lomdzala. The success of our services lies firmly rooted in intensively working with small numbers of local people, whose successes in growing resilience – knowledge, health & wealth – inspires friends, neighbours, & family members to nourish & strengthen their own roots. Each homestead that graduates from Guba organically contributes to a healthier, inter-dependent community. And so the permaculture revolution spreads.
We also offer short courses to train groups from other communities which are tailored to their needs & objectives using the permaculture framework as a sustainable guideline. To obtain further yield from the successes of our approach, we are keen to replicate our model of sustainable human development by sharing what works & what hasn’t worked with other constituencies across Swaziland. We would be more than happy to see the Guba model replicated throughout each inkhundla across the Nation by INGOs working with local organisations to strengthen communities from the roots up.
Over the years, as we’ve responded to the needs & aspirations of our community members, our services have evolved & adapted. Currently, we offer a wealth of training opportunities in appropriate technologies, sustainable agriculture, natural resource management, & food & nutrition. Since late 2014, we have offered our communities the Guba Farm Playschool in an effort to promote sustainability, equity & quality within preschool education in Swaziland. In addition, we are promoting an annual tree planting campaign to provide a number of solutions to the challenges of perennial food, shelter, fuelwood & soil erosion. The Guba HIV/AIDS Support Group has offered the Guba team & nearby farm employees up-to-date information & access to much needed health & support services since 2010.
Our approach to development is to first observe & interact with our communities so that we are better placed to deliver services & solutions in response to the challenges they raise in consultation with Guba. We use the 12 permaculture principles to guide this process so that the end result is always faithful to the three permaculture ethics: caring for people, caring for the Earth, & reinvesting back into both.
Once we’ve used the 12 permaculture principles to identify appropriate solutions, we trial them at our purpose-built training centre & role out the successes by offering community members training so that they can take away the skills necessary to initiate their own solutions & improve quality of life for themselves. We learn from any failures which are also shared during training opportunities to strengthen learning & increase our positive impact. Any solutions that cannot be delivered through training or through partners in Lobamba Lomdzala, are delivered by Guba (like the Guba Farm Playschool) where appropriate, or we support local community members to deliver the service themselves.
A document well worth reading is Bob Forrester & Vito Laterza’s Development in Swaziland: Myths & Realities, which contains gems of advice following their observations & interaction with the development sector in Swaziland. Much of this document reflects our own learning since we started Guba in 2009. If you run a business, social enterprise or charitable organisation, this is a must read!
Visit our approach & influences for more information regarding the issues & thinking that guides Guba’s strategic decisions as a charity responding to needs within our communities.
Our vision is for all people in Swaziland to have secure access to nutritious food, clean water, shelter, & economic stability through their own energies utilising solutions that nurture their physical & social environments.