Sustainable Village Library

Welcome to the Sustainable Village Library, a collection of projects, research, curriculum, and guides. You are welcome to share this information in order to enhance sustainable development efforts.  If you have information to share with people around the world, we welcome your contributions! Please email your documents to

Agriculture – Sustainable Farming

Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable Agriculture meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations. It does so by embracing three main goals — environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity. The following documents offer a means to this end.

Bee Keeping

  • Beginners Guide to Beekeeping in Kenya
  • Bee Keeping Gloves
    Gloves are especially important for beginner beekeepers. The best bee glove does not allow stings to go through, and allows you to work in a confident way.
  • Bee Keeping Mask
    Learn to make a veil to protect your head and neck while bee keeping.
  • Beekeeping Terms
    Vocabulary and definitions that aid in the understanding and management of bees.
  • Bee Propolis
    Propolis is a waxy substance that comes from tree bark and buds and is used by bees. Propolis offers antiseptic, antibiotic, antibacterial, antifungal, and even antiviral properties and can be harvested, used and sold to boost the immune system.


  • Raising Chickens
    Soft management practices for family or cooperative flocks to increass the yields of both eggs and meat.
  • Chicken Tractor
    An adaptable and efficient housing design for chicken flocks.


  • Compost for Soil Enrichment
    Design a compost bin that breaks down raw organic material into dark nutrient rich soil.
  • Vermicomposting
    Learn vermicomposting also known as worm compost, vermicast, worm castings, worm humus or worm manure. The breakdown of natural material by earthworms is used as a nutrient-rich, organic fertilizer, and soil conditioner often referred to as black gold.

Sustainable/Organic Agriculture

  • Community Grain Banks
    Grain banks store grain within a village, making it available to people at fair prices during times of shortage. Learn to assist in community building and the management of one.
  • Organic Farming Can Feed the World
    Switching to organic farming would have different effects according to where in the world you live and how you currently farm. Studies show that the less-industrialized world stands to benefit the most. Learn more!
  • Case Against GMO
    Learn 10 reasons why genetically modified seeds can’t deliver on their promises.
  • Pillars and Key Strategies for Sustainable Agriculture in Africa
    Increase food security by introducing small-scale farmers to farming practices that make efficient use of limited resources, require few, if any, external inputs, and protect natural resources (particularly soil fertility) for future generations..
  • Sustainable Organic Agriculture as a Technique for Rural Community in Development
    As individuals, farmers face many difficult choices with broad scale impacts. This guide discusses the principles and techniques of SOA.
  • Biointensive Farming Training Manual
    Biointensive farming is a self-help food raising method based on building and maintaining soil fertility and using NO chemicals. It is simple to learn and use, based on sophisticated principles dating back 4000 years in China, 2000 years in Greece, and 300 years in Europe.
    GROW BIOINTENSIVE® agriculture is less dependent on expensive external inputs, is space intensive, water conserving, depends on less labor, and creates minimal pest problems. Learn eight key steps to GROW BIOINTENSIVE®.
  • Pesticides
    Learn how pesticides, lethal to insects, vermin, and plant disease, pose significant health risks towards humans as well.
  • Organic Agriculture, Production and Trade in Kenya

Seed Saving

  • Seed Saving Guide
    Learn the seed-saving practices of our ancestor which often resulted in resistance to local disease and pests while gradually adapting to regional climate and soil conditions.
  • Selecting the Best Seeds by Joshua Machinga
  • Starting and Operating a Community Seed Bank/Library 
    Developing plans for communities and small farmers to share their heirloom seeds is extremely important. Because of the issues associated with GM seeds through giant agribusiness corporations, the loss of biodiversity is a worldwide concern. Saving seed is key to not just food security but food sovereignty (freedom).

Trees for Development

Appropriate Technology

Appropriate Technology

Appropriate Technology encompasses technological applications that are small scale, energy efficient, environmentally sound, locally controlled, and people centered. Mahatma Gandhi is often cited as the “mother” of the movement because he advocated for small, local and predominantly village-based technology to promote self reliance in Indian communities. He believed that technology should benefit a minority of people and not be supplied for the profit of the majority. Village Volunteers believes this too.

  • Drip-Irrigation-Bucket-System
    Learn how to set up an irrigation system for a garden and find online resources for troubleshooting and monitoring.
  • Solar Food Dehydrator
    Using the sun and a solar collector, you can build a functional food preservation system for little work and even less money.
  • Solar Cooking and Water Purification
    Solar cookers are an easy and affordable method to cook food and purify water without requiring the use of wood, coal, or dung. This reduces deforestation, CO2 emissions, and does not cause respiratory health problems.
  • Fuel Briquettes Training Guide
    Sustainable sources of wood fuel have diminished and deforestation has become a worldwide epidemic, therefore, success in fuel briquetting depends on understanding its benefits for the community. Successful training takes 6-8 weeks in order to be able to produce a smokeless fuel briquette. Learn how.
  • Hand Powered Water Pumps
    The bush pump has become the world’s most robust and widely used locally made hand pump. It can be made locally with ease. Parts can be modified to what can be found locally and any one can use it.
  • Bamboo House Building Manual
    Learn how to construct low-rise, earthquake-resistant housing. The design plans produced by the Engineering Structures Research Centre at City University require only basic construction skills and tools. The materials are sustainable, durable, and can often be locally obtained in most regions in the global south.
  • How to Build a Rocket Stove     A rocket stove is a cooking stove that achieves efficient combustion of fuel. It has been used for cooking purposes in many energy poor locales (notably Rwandan refugee camps) as well as heating water.
Cultural Preservation

Cultural Preservation

Cultural preservation celebrates and records the heritage of a people. This can be accomplished by collecting photographs, cultural stories, family genealogy, or by learning and teaching traditional songs, stories and dance to new generations. Below you’ll find various tools to preserve family histories for children whose parents are taken by disease and to record those cultural beliefs eroding away through inundation of western civilization.

  • Ethnography
    Learn about ethnography, a qualitative methodology whereby the researcher seeks to understand a culture from the standpoint of a cultural insider, learning what it is truly like to exist within a particular framework of ideas, customs, taboos, religion, thoughts, and all of the  institutions that come together to make culture.
  • Ethnographic Research Strategy
    To undertake an ethnographic investigation, equipment as simple as a pad and pencil can be used, or as complex as digital cameras and special effects. Whatever you choose, learn what guidelines to keep in mind when in the field.
  • Memory Box
    In Kenya alone, 890,000 children have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS. Memory Boxes are physical objects created by families with the assistance of a volunteer, in which they store family memories in the form of letters, photographs, stories, advisement and objects that have significance for a family and its history. These have proven instrumental in assisting grieving orphans by preserving memories and offering hope for the future.
  • Memory Box Interview: Suggested Questions
    These questions may be useful in preserving a family’s Memory Box history for those children who have parents with HIV/AIDS.
  • Traditional Healers: Working and Learning
    The spiritual and medicinal healing arts of the traditional societies in Kenya provide remedies for common ailments and also demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the environment, concern for conservation, and the sustainable use of medicinal plants. Learn to preserve the great store of indigenous knowledge held by traditional healers which is in danger of extinction with the current generation.
Economic Development


Economic Development

Economic Development is a deliberate intervention to foster a healthy economy through the allocation of land, labor, capitol and entrepreneurship. The goal is to positively impact business activity, employment, and income distribution patterns by enhancing existing businesses, attracting new business and encouraging the growth of start-ups. The following resources offer support for rural business development in developing countries.

  • Basic Bookkeeping
    Bookkeeping is the practice of keeping track of your money through a formal system of records.  Recording how and when money is spent and made helps to keep an overall view of how your money is working for you
  •  Business Planning and Basic Bookkeeping PDF VIEWING” Please do not use this one to print because the booklet will not have the pages in the correct order. The resolution has been optimized to view it fast on the screen so printing quality will be low.
  • Business Planning and Basic Bookkeeping The “BOOKLET PRINT FILE” needs to be printed on A4 size paper, front and back printing, then folded in the middle and stapled to form a booklet. If you use this file, the pages will be in order once you have the booklet put together. If you try and read this file on your computer, the pages will be out of order
  • Establishing Cooperatives
    Millions of people in many countries around the world today have organized to provide themselves with good and services in a cooperative way. Learn the many types and how they are organized.
  • Grameen Bank: Sixteen Decisions
    Grameen Bank’s 16 Decisions are an example of a social development program melded with microcredit delivery. They were developed in a 1984 workshop of Grameen Bank members representing 100 centers, and have been an integral part of Grameen Bank’s mission ever since. 
  • Grant Writing Manual
    Learn key steps to writing successful grant proposals, from research and organization to follow-up.
  • Microcredit Definitions
    “Microcredit” may mean agricultural credit, or rural credit, or cooperative credit, or consumer credit, credit from the savings and loan associations, or from credit unions, or from money lenders. Learn the many forms microcredit can take.
  • What Makes a Cooperative Successful?
    A cooperative’s mission, vision and values serve as the foundation for the Coop’s strategic business plan, the day-to-day work of the organization and the group’s purpose. This worksheet helps to develop a successful mission and plan.
  • Working with Groups and Agricultural Coops
    As an extension program gets under way in a community and starts growing, it becomes more and more necessary for the volunteers to work with groups as time may not always be available for individual visits.
  • Participatory Rural Assessment (PRA)
    Participatory Rural Assessment (PRA) as an approach to community development built on the premises that participation by the beneficiaries is fundamental for success. Projects introduced in the community must involve approaches that communities themselves can manage and control.



Education is an integral tool in the development of a human being’s potential. Whether teaching a child or an adult, learning enhances innate talents and teaches useful skills that are important to life’s success, from nurturing the sense of self through accomplishment to bringing out exceptional abilities. To teach is to enable. The following guides help to make that happen.



  • How to Make Corn Husk Dolls
    Corn husk dolls are easy to make and fun to play with. Start a business making corn husk dolls in your village!


  • Basic Mechanical Principles
    For those of you who are interested in mechanical devices, I’d like to introduce to you the six simple machines: The lever, wheel & axle, pulley, inclined plane, wedge and screw. It is helpful to understand how all of these things work as it will help you to understand how complicated machines work using the same principles.


  • Teaching English as a Second Language
    Teaching English to non-native speakers is a challenge that can be daunting, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. Learn helpful tips to make your teaching experience a success for both you and your students.
  • ESL Lesson Plan: First Day of Class
    With beginners, mime and movement are essential. Speak slowly and use lots of body language to convey instructions. For beginners, understanding and conveying basic meaning is much more important than using perfect grammar. The following activities will get you started.
  • Intermediate English Lesson Plan: Worm Composting
    The objective is to learn command verbs for giving instructions, understand and appreciate the principles of worm-composting, work as a group to better communicate in English, and contextualize the language to improve retention.
  • ESL Group Games
    Learn to play and teach games that enhance English vocabulary and comprehension. Included are Guess the Word, The Alphabet Game, Run for the Answer and Race to Re-order Sentences.
  • More ESL Group Games
    To Market teaches numbers, food or object vocabulary, past tense and repetition. Other games include Ball Game, What Am I?, Whisper Circles and more.


  • Basic Arithmetic
    View examples of problems and solutions to model additional problems after.


Environmental Conservation

Our environment supports us through the  air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink. Our lives depend on supporting our environment in return. These documents bring environmental issues to light, educate on how best to conserve the natural world that we all share.


Gender Equality


Gender Equality

Gender equality imparts confidence so young girls are afforded opportunities and believe they can achieve anything in life. These documents provide insight into the lives of young girls in developing countries and offer ways to empower them.

  • Female Genital Mutilation
    In some areas of sub-Saharan Africa, over 96% of women and girls have undergone the procedure. In Kenya, over 70% of females have experienced FGM. Halting this practice cannot come from top-down organizations, but from the unified decisions of the communities where FGM is practiced.
  • Gender Equality Camps and Workshops
    Learn how to instill confidence in girls, push the boundaries of tradition gender roles, and create camaraderie and support for girls who need to believe they are equals.
  • The Experience of Being a Girl
    These essays were written by 39 girls from Pirrar Girls’ High School in Transmara, Kenya, as they reflected upon their lives and found their own voices.
Note: See Performing Arts for Development for theatrical ways to teach about Wangari Maathai, the educated Kenyan girl who won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.
Performing Arts for Development


Performing Arts for Development

Performing Arts employs interactive theater to communicate important social messages. This type of engagement stresses the equal input of all parties involved while encompassing strong cultural traditions of teaching and disseminating important information throughout communities.

  • AIDS Education in Africa Using Traditional Performance
    For two decades, forum theater has been used as a popular means of community development in West Africa and Kenya to bring healthcare and other social development messages to rural people.This two-way communication permits audience members to act out and hopefully internalize concepts such as healthcare, nutrition, sex and AIDS education, and family planning.
  • Improvisational Exercises for Theater
    Exercises such as Telephone, The Scream, and Mirror, encourage free flowing interaction and expression through body language and interpretation of that expression to better act out theatrical messages to the community.
  • Theatre for Development Source Book
    Included in this source book are ideas of how to create a theatre for development piece, from identifying a subject to be addressed, to post-performance activities. We encourage you to try out new ideas and adapt the ones here to discover methods that work for you.
  • Wangari Maathai, An Inspiration – Curriculum
    Learn and share the story of Wangari Maathai, a girl born in Nyeri, Kenya in 1940 whose brother persuaded her parents to send her to school. She was the first woman from East or Central Africa to earn a PhD and, while department head of Veterinary Anatomy in 1976, she started The Green Belt Movement in 1977, when women from rural areas and urban centers were empowered by planting trees. Wangari Maatha with a long history of activism for empowerment, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.
  • Wangari Maathai Play – A Tree Grows in Kenya
    A play telling the inspirational story of Wangari Maathai, a brave, educated Kenyan woman who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her tireless work empowering women and supporting the environment. Written by Amanda Pressner, Holly Corbett, Jennifer Baggett and Irene Scher
  • Youth Health Education – Theatre Guide
    This guide to producing your own play was created to empower youth to establish a community theatre group. Community theatre groups can serve as an educational forum for social and health issues while giving youth a way to express their core challenges. As a volunteer, your role is of a cheerleader and a facilitator; a person who keeps the momentum going through enthusiasm and encouragement. Remember that the main body of material and ideas must come from the participating community and to keep programs sustained well beyond your volunteer service, it’s imperative to help to solidify group leadership by consensus.
Public Health


Public Health 

Clean Water

First Aid


  • Growing Artemisia: Used in treating Malaria
    Artemisia is a large, diverse genus of plants with between 200-400 species belonging to the daisy family Asteraceae. Learn how to grow and prepare Artemisia as an anti-malaria.


  • HIV/AIDS Information
    This document discusses what AIDS is, how HIV causes disease, how it is transmitted, what the symptoms are, how to test for it and treat it. Please share this information with communities who are not yet informed. communities about this disease.
  • Jake and Tuffy – A story of a boy orphaned by AIDS  This beautifully written and illustrated book by Ray Lacy follows Jake, an AIDS orphan who lives by begging on the streets. One day he sees a stray dog hit by a taxi: he picks up the hurt animal and seeks help. This leads him on a journey of self discovery and healing.
  • Living with HIV in Africa: A Personal Account
    This powerful story was submitted anonymously to say, “I am a person living with HIV, born and raised in the Kenyan uplands where sex education is never presented, unlike 1st world countries such as the United States.” These pages clearly outline the dire and intimate consequences of not educating communities about this disease.
  • Youth Outreach Mentors (YOM): Volunteer Action Plan
    The goal of YOM is to deconstruct myths surrounding HIV/AIDS, enable youth to make educated choices about their health, and guide them in informing their communities in developing safe and knowledgeable lifestyle choices.
  • Youth Outreach Mentors Manual
    This 44-page curriculum offers guidance for teaching students every important aspect of HIV/AIDS. Learn to create a comfortable discussion space and employ various activities to generate open conversations about this deadly disease.
  • Peer Sexual Health Education
    This brief guide offers activities for teaching sexual health education, including the topics of STIs, HIV/AIDS, drug abuse and more.
See also Performing Arts for Development to teach HIV/AIDS information by embracing oral storytelling performances and community engagement.

Women’s Health

  • Girls Guide to Menstruation   – This manual assists girls in understanding and managing menstruation. Note: the Jani-Pad is called Mukti in India and will be available in Kenya by 2017.
  • Sexual Assault and Grief Recover–   This program is designed to help women who have suffered trauma and grief in their lives.  The program is specifically targeted toward women who have been victimized sexually through trafficking, incest, rape, or molestation.  The content provided can be used across a broad age range and cultural background.  Facilitation to ensure understanding and age appropriateness is suggested. 


  • Germs and Staying Healthy Germs are tiny organisms that cause disease. Learn how to stay healthy by avoiding them.
  • The Effects of Cooking Indoors on Women and Children  Three billion people rely on biomass for their source of domestic cooking fuel resulting in a health crisis in developing nations that is little known to those in the developed world – indoor air pollution (IAP). Learn more about this issue to better educate those who are exposed of the dangers.
  • Oral Health – An Oral Health Curriculum for Future Mothers and Their Young Children
  • Stretches for Spinal Health  Whether you are farming, carrying heavy loads, cooking, or on a computer, stretching will keep your back healthy and you out of pain.
Sickle Cell Anemia


Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a largely neglected risk to child survival in most Sub Saharan African countries. SCD is an inherited form of anemia – a condition in which there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen throughout the body.  Normally, red blood cells are flexible and round, moving easily through blood vessels. In SCD, the red blood cells become rigid and sticky and are crescent shaped. These irregularly shaped cells get stuck in small blood vessels and can block blood flow and oxygen to parts of the body.

The probability of early death among children born with SCD in sub-Saharan Africa might be as high as 90% in rural areas where access to health care is limited, but closer to 50% in populations with better access to health care and lower exposure to infectious diseases.

Public health education, newborn screening, data collection and health intervention research is urgently needed. We have compiled curricula on ways to stay healthy and strong to share with those affected by Sickle Cell Anemia.  Basic public health measures-including improved nutrition and interventions against malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea-reduce the burden of  mortality attributable to SCD.

If you are a Public Health, Global Health, or Medical student, internships are available.

Sickle-Cell Anemia 

Sickle Cell and Maternal Mortality

Belly Breathing

Aerobic Exercises

Strength and Breathing

Strength TrainingStretching


Sickle Cell Anemia Folate Nutrition

Counseling and Leadership Development


Youth Counseling and Development

Young people benefit from the guidance of counseling and development in order to conquer stereotypes, believe in possibility, take concrete action to achieve their goals and provide leadership in community projects. The following resources encourage students to explore their potential and provide them with leadership skills.

  • Planning for Your Future
    The purpose of this curriculum is to help children begin thinking strategically about what they want to do when they grow up and how they can begin planning now. Planning strategically makes it possible for students to recognize problems, obstacles and weaknesses ahead of time, then to plan around them or find ways to minimize their impact. It also helps students to focus their efforts on their goals and be more effective.
  • Leadership-Activity-Workshop
    This workshop is based on the premise that each student will face a variety of leadership challenges in life. The way in which these challenges are met, whether as a formal leader or a member of a team, can have a significant impact on the individual and the community at large..
  • Leadership Activity Learning Workshop
    This workshop is designed to foster leadership skills through teamwork for students ages twelve to fifteen. Because the discussion is a main priority, the teacher will be in the classroom as a guide: leading students to learn from one another by asking questions about the words they have chosen.
  • Principles of Leadership
    Read excerpts from The Tao of Leadership that inspire thought, discussion and reflection among students.
  • Team Building Activities
    Team building exercises are a great way to develop trust and friendship within groups. Whether you are trying to help strangers get to know each other, entertain a group, or simply have a good time, these activities are sure to help everyone get to know each other a little better and have some fun.
  • Values and Self Esteem Exercise
    A value is something very personal, and it is not considered right or wrong. Reading statements aloud, students offer opinions and practice respectfully listening to and discussing the opinions of others.
  • Sexual Assault and Grief Recover–   This program is designed to help women who have suffered trauma and grief in their lives.  The program is specifically targeted toward women who have been victimized sexually through trafficking, incest, rape, or molestation.  The content provided can be used across a broad age range and cultural background.  Facilitation to ensure understanding and age appropriateness is suggested.