People in desert regions are exposed to extreme climatic conditions. The progression of climate change in recent years has exacerbated the situation for many desert dwellers. The result is persistent undernourishment and malnutrition. The situation in refugee camps, which have been dependent on the help of international organisations for years, is particularly dire.
We have made ourselves a picture of the situation on the ground and traveled to a camp in the Algerian Sahara, where thousands of Sahrawi refugees from the Western Sahara live. The Western Sahara has been in the center of a conflict for more than 40 years. There is a lack of food and feed for livestock and the resources of the international organisations are exhausted. The supply of the population becomes more and more difficult and the suffering Sahrawi urgently need a sustainable and long-term food supply.
In cooperation with the World Food Programme (WFP), Sahrawi engineer Taleb Brahim has developed a water-saving hydroponic system for growing barley as animal fodder. The population now has access to high-quality meat and milk of goats and camels, which no longer have to eat plastic and other waste. The system has already been replicated in Jordan and Chad.
Together with the WFP, we Fraunhofer researchers want to further develop the concept so that vegetables, lettuce and herbs can also be cultivated using hydroponics. We need your support to bring the concept to life and start implementing it on site.
Based on the success of the hydroponic barley cultivation of the World Food Programme (WFP), we are further developing the hydroponic concept so that the Sahrawi can grow lettuce, vegetables and herbs at home or in local cooperatives. We want to increase the availability of essential food in the warehouses and combat nutritional deficiencies. The integrated system focuses on the efficient reuse of water for the cascading cultivation of vegetables and animal fodder.
Local people should have the opportunity to grow their own food despite difficult conditions. Following the principle of frugal innovation we need to transfer " Hightech to low-tech", the inhabitants of the refugee camps should be able to establish and operate hydroponics using local materials in a cost-effective and water-saving way. The hydroponics concept remains efficient even under extreme climatic conditions and could be applied worldwide.
Our "GreenUp Sahara" project is aimed at all people interested in research who are committed to combating the causes of flight and who want to make a contribution to grand societal challenges. We want to inspire people who share our view that innovation, engineering and determination can change the world.
Hydroponics is a real game changer! We could use it to secure the long-term nutrition of people in many place of the world and combat malnutrition. People develop the ability to provide for themselves and are less dependent on external help following the principle of capacity building for development.
The pilot project could be applied in other regions of the world and contribute to the fight against climate change, world hunger and the causes of flight. The chances of suc-cess are very good because we are building on an invention made locally by local people like Taleb. In addition, the barley hydroponic system is already well-accepted and widespread within the local community.
"GreenUp Sahara" is a project close to Marc's heart. It requi-res inventiveness and passion - two qualities that Fraunhofer researchers and employees have in common. We want to meet the socially relevant challenges of our time with scien-tific and engineering expertise and support innovations in remote regions of the world.
All too often, however, these non-profit project ideas are not part of our daily business operations (applied research for industry and commerce), but land in drawers waiting to be realized because of the lack of financing opportunities. We want to bring these ideas - like the project "GreenUp Sahara" - to life!
Every donation, no matter how small, helps scientists like Marc to take the next research step, to get closer to their vision and to create more awareness for the most pressing problems of our time.
In order to maximise the impact, we want to further develop the hydroponic concept together with the local population and the World Food Programme (WFP).
Once the first funding target (€15,000) has been reached, Marc and two other Fraunhofer researchers are expected to travel to the refugee camp in Algeria for about a week start-ing in October 2019. Together with the engineer Taleb Brah-im and the WFP, they will identify and test suitable materials for a scalable hydroponic system for vegetable cultivation. Further, the mission will collect and incorporate the requi-rements and wishes from the local community as well as the present international organisations.
These must be efficient, simple and inexpensive to procure on site and sustainable in use. On the ground, we will involve the other committed actors (e.g. the United Nations Refugee Commission (UNHCR)).
By reaching the second funding target (€ 30,000), you will also enable us to build a model of the special "greenhouse" on site. We will write and publish the results of our research stay as well as the concept for a hydroculture model for vegetable cultivation in the desert. With our thank you you have the opportunity to get an insight into the research results. For this, simply book e.g. "digital photo series" or "comprehensive project report".
These two steps form the basis for the implementation of a viable hydroculture system for vegetable cultivation in de-sert regions, for which further financing possibilities will subsequently be sought.
Marc Beckett is a scientist at the Fraunhofer IGB in Stuttgart. His research focuses on the development and implementation of sustainable water management and water use systems. At the beginning of the year, Marc and colleagues published a case study on framework conditions for water and nutrient reuse in Belgium. He is currently involved in several research projects on sustainable water and environmental services in Southern Africa and India.
In addition to Marc, two other Fraunhofer researchers will contribute their expertise in hydroponics and solar technologies to the project. The colleagues of the World Food Programme (WFP) have many years of experience on site and know the conditions and what it takes to realize projects in the local setting. In addition, the local population, such as the engineer Taleb Brahim, is to be involved in the project from the beginning. Fraunhofer offers the research infrastructure for the implementation, the WFP and the residents of the refugee camp the local expertise.
On the part of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, three institutes are involved in the GreenUp Sahra project:
- the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (IGB)
- Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology (UMSICHT)
- Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE
Fraunhofer IGB develops processes for health, chemistry, environment and energy. Complete solutions from laboratory to pilot scale are among the strengths of the institute.
As a pioneer for technical innovations, the Fraunhofer UMSICHT aims to promote sustainable business and environmentally friendly technologies in order to improve our quality of life and promote the innovative capacity of the domestic economy.
Fraunhofer ISE creates the conditions for an efficient and environmentally friendly energy supply in industrialized, emerging and developing countries. With its research focus on solar water desalination, it contributes to the broad application of new technologies.
The UN World Food Programme is the largest humanitarian aid organization in the world and the first United Nations aid organization to combat hunger worldwide. For more than 50 years, the WFP has been providing emergency food aid, often in conflict situations, after conflicts or disasters, and is currently active in over 70 countries. In the camps of the Sahrawi, the WFP has been providing indispensable help in supplying people with food for more than 40 years.
Das Fraunhofer-Zentrum für Internationales Management und Wissensökonomie IMW untersucht mithilfe eines Fragebogens die Wirksamkeit, Reichweite und Zufriedenheit der Kampagne. Hier geht's zur Umfrage.