Aquaponics at al-Basma Centre
A pilot project to investigate the viability of aquaponic systems for sustainable food security and/or microenterprise in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT)
Al-Basma Centre is a centre for young adults with mental and physical disabilities where clients learn different skills such as weaving, recycling paper, soap making and creating recycled fuel for heating the centre. The centre also has a greenhouse on-site in which clients and staff worked together to grow vegetables like cucumbers and tomatoes. These activities provided the clients with opportunities to develop further skills and physical activities but unfortunately the greenhouse project was making financial losses, and so not sustainable in the long term.
We approached the centre with an aquaponics pilot project proposal, which, if it were to prove a success, would enable the centre to earn money through selling fish and organic vegetables.
In the current political and economical situation it is of vital importance that organisations in the OPT can be increasingly economically sufficient. At present the Palestinian economy is heavily dependent on foreign aid. Organisations operating in Palestine are no exception, with the majority of the funding coming from external sources. The amount of financial aid reaching the OPT is diminishing annually, and this trend looks set to continue. Thus, providing the al-Basma centre with a means to achieving enhanced economic sustainability will give the centre more independence and will allow them to continue their work helping the clients.
We launched the pilot project in March 2011 after securing funding from Operation Blessing International, with the goal of assessing the viability of aquaponic systems as tools for sustainably enhancing food security and/or micro-enterprise in the OPT.
The main objectives of this pilot study were to:
1) Construct a pilot domestic scale aquaponic system and evaluate its effectiveness in terms of water and cost efficiency in producing vegetable and fish harvests compared to growing crops in soil. (click here to read the final report)
2) Prepare a training manual and workshop series and to assess their effectiveness as tools for knowledge transfer and training participants to set up and maintain aquaponic systems independently in the future.
The workshop topics were the following:
Workshop 1 – Introduction to aquaponics
Workshop 2 – Construction of aquaponic system
Workshop 3 – Water quality and monitoring
Workshop 4 – Fish and plant management
Workshop 5 – About fish
Workshop 6 – Fish feeding
Workshop 7 – Fish health
Workshop 8 – Plant maintenance session
Workshop 9 – Plant health
Workshop 10 – Troubleshooting
Please download the full project report.