Growing a future

Goal
Supplying refugees with their own Aquaponics/hydroponics micro-enterprise

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Period
Present

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About
As a result of our successful aquaponics/hydroponics project in the Palestinian territory, we hope to develop more micro-enterprises in close cooperation with refugees throughout the middle-east. Many refugees live in places with scarce water resources and are lacking fertile soil. Hydroponics provides them with an opportunity to grow vegetables on rooftops and  in backyards. With a system as small as 15m2 families can produce their own food and sell produce for extra income.

TGS believes that enabling refugees to produce some of their own vegetables can be a very fitting solution to improve food security and capacity development in refugee camps. Besides healthy food and an income, it also gives people a daily occupation and an opportunity to learn and grow their own business.

Refugee crisis
The current crisis in the Middle East once again shows the vulnerability of refugees. People who managed to flee to a safe place, often find themselves in dire need of proper shelter, food and medical care. They often depend on the help of governments or refugee organizations for their primary means of survival. The UN alone had 13 million refugees under its direct or indirect care in 2014 (UNHCR, 2015). All these people have little to no means of survival, while most are physically very capable to take care of themselves. Even though refugee camps are designed for temporary residence, we see that people are sometimes stuck in such camps for a many years. Some refugees see the opportunity to make a living on their own. However, the majority of the people do not have that opportunity, especially female headed households are vulnerable in these situations. They often cannot afford a healthy diverse diet, but are restricted to calorie rich bulk food like rice and bread. TGS believes that enabling refugees to produce some of their own vegetables can be a very fitting solution to improve food security and capacity development in refugee camps. Besides healthy food and an income, it also gives people a daily occupation and an opportunity to learn and grow their own business.

Past experience
Together with Caritas we have initiated a pilot project in Bethlehem in 2014. The aim was to enable food insecure families to grow vegetables for home consumption and  to sell for the market. We provided families with training and small hydroponics systems. The pilot showed that these families successfully  produced more than enough vegetables for a themselves, with excess to share with others. The families only had to spend 1,5 hours a week, which left them with enough time for other activities. The lack of water in this area, did not become a problem since hydroponics uses up to 85% less water than conventional agriculture. And even though these families did not have good soil to grow their food, the small scale gardening systems, placed at rooftops and court yards, created more than enough food. With the experience we have in Bethlehem, we also want to provide refugee families in the middle east with the opportunity to grow food, for a better future.