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In November, 2015, UNESCO hosted a conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: QUEST 4 AFRICA II. Guardian Integrators’ director, Paul Bierman-Lytle presented the keynote address in which he focused on rainwater harvesting and ecological wastewater treatment. Both of these topics are in response to the crisis in refugee camps and rural villages: lack of water and food. The conference was attended by over 15 embassies, UNESCO directors, UNHCR director, university students from the region and Middle East, private entrepreneurs, Rotary Club International directors, and numerous NGOs. Three project subjects were pledged by the group:

1) Green Academies (formally ‘Green Schools’): The key objective of this initiative is to develop solutions that will guide educational and training institutions towards a more sustainable path, teaching the skills and knowledge of sustainability sciences, technologies, design and applications so that the upcoming generation will be better equipped to face challenges and to provide solutions, socially, environmentally, and economically. This initiative is intended for Ethiopia specifically, and for Africa as a whole.

2) Eco-Lodges: Develop one or more models of ecotourism destinations in order to a) attract tourism to Ethiopia with focus on bio-regional conservation and restoration as well as cultural understanding and appreciation; b) establish an ecotourism model that is self-sustaining, financially profitable, provides meaningful employment for local communities and university graduates; c) demonstrates ‘green building’ practices and sustainable infrastructure (energy, water, waste); and d) ultimately create a new, fresh perspective of Ethiopia to the world that it is a leader in edu-tourism, geo-tourism, agri-tourism, health tourism, and cultural tourism.

3) Sheder Refugee Camp Rainwater Harvesting Solutions. Given the shortage of water and food in many areas of Ethiopia as well as neighboring nations, with particular emphasis on the increasing numbers of refugees arriving at existing border ‘camps’, this initiative will provide examples of various solutions that will relieve this stress on natural and regional community resources. The case study will result in ‘built’ applications on-site in order to measure performance and provide valuable real-time data on what works and what doesn’t work. The proposed study is focused on the Sheder Refugee Camp within 15 km of the Somali border, east of Jijiga. Furthermore, the study will incorporate the existing ‘schools’ that are located at the camp, thus contributing to Project 1: Green Academies.

Paul Bierman-Lytle’s UNESCO Presentation:  SHEDER REFUGEE CAMP

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TYPICAL STREET IN CAMP

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NEW ‘FARMS’ IRRIGATED BY RAINWATER AND ECOLOGICAL WASTEWATER TREATMENT WILL ALLOW FAMILIES TO GROW THEIR OWN FOOD

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Within the camp, one family invited us into his area to show us his gardens fed by rainwater he collected in a dirt pit.

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