Dec 16, 2013

Belgium and the United Nations support urban agriculture in the Gaza Strip

Since July 2010, the  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has implemented an emergency food production support project, funded by the Goverment of the Kingdom of Belgium. 
This emergency food production project mainly consists out of  vertical farms and aquaponics systems, making the Gaza Strip one of the leading areas in the world in terms of urban farming.

The FAO chose the Gaza Strip because of the scarcity of sufficient quantities of food and good quality food. After several years of blockades by Israel the private sector activity in the Gaza Strip collapsed and the unemployment soared. The blockades, combined with the destruction of infrastructure by Israel, caused high financial losses for the agricultural sector in the Gaza Strip. This resulted in the collapse of the agricultural sector in Gaza, affecting the livelihood of the majority of the population.

In onder to provide sufficient food to the citizens of Gaza, the FAO and the Belgian government launched an agricultural support project that focussed on new methods of urban farming, such as vertical farming and aquaponics.
The choice for these methods was evident: land available for agriculture is limited in Gaza and due to the blockades many kinds of fresh vegetables were hard to come by in the area. Furthermore, 97% of the Gaza Strip population are urban or camp dwellers, and do not have access to land. Urban farming gives a direct sollution by limiting the amount of land needed to grow vast quantities of food.

Meanwhile, 119 rooftop aquaponic units connected to fish tanks have been installed in insecure female-headed households in urban areas. In addition, 24 units were placed in educational and community establishments. 
Next to the installation of units, the FAO has also provided 100 rooftop packages to female-headed households in urban areas. 
By doing so the FAO intends to improve the availability of high-quality fresh vegetables for rural and urban poor and encourage the sustainable use of scarce resources through the recycling of nutrient-richt water from fish tanks to irirrigate plants. The abundance of food can also be sold on the local market to generate income for the household's basic needs.

More information on this project can be found on the website of the FAO (link) and in this brochure (link).

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