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Solar-powered Integrated Fish and Crop (Aquaponics) farming in Refugee settings in Uganda

Building hope, esteem, joy and harmony among refugees and host communities in Uganda

Photo of Henry Mugisha Bazira
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Refugees or Internally Displaced Persons - IDPs move into an area and change the dynamics of the society they enter, which could result in competition for natural resources (water, land, fuelwood, biomass. etc) with host communities as well as discomfort among them. By virtue of being displaced, refugees/IDPs initially do not have joy and peace among the society they reside. In addition, refugees depend heavily on hand-outs including food rations, money, shelter, clothes and medical-care, which undermines their independence, self-esteem and pride of fending for themselves. Refugees are usually restricted in movement and their ability to be involved in gainful employment. Food rations are comprised of standard food stuffs, with little or no alternative choice - leading to food monotony. This could trigger nutrient deficiencies. The lack of happiness among refugees is associated with loss of original livelihoods, homes and not getting other gainful and respectful employment opportunities in the host country. Humanitarian actors including the State often offer support skewed in favour of refugees - leaving host communities with a feeling of being left-out. There is need to offer balanced support. Host communities tend to suffer recurrent nutrient deficiencies due to the nature and quality of food stuffs available to them. Fish and horticultural crop products which are good sources of protein, vitamins and mineral salts are often lacking in their diet - consequently leading to nutrient deficiencies. Integrated fish and horticultural crop (Aquaponics) farming innovation offers an opportunity for host communities to produce own fish and horticultural products at home as well as earn additional income. Likewise, the refugees are able to add variety to the food rations and acquire a sense of independence and earn additional income. This will enhance their happiness knowing that they can earn a living; give them hope for a business after refugee life and sense of belonging.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

This innovation targets refugees communities in Adjumani, Chaka II, Nakivale and Orukinga settlements as well as their host community. The refugees in these settlements are 204,987; 101,050; 123,348 and 123,340, respectively. These are among 234,300; 408,700; 576,300 and 576,300 host populations, respectively. These are areas where refugees tend to stay for a long time (10-60 years) in contrast to the temporary refugee holding/reception sites.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

Refugees/ Internally Displaced Persons-IDPs occasionally come into a welcoming or hostile host community and before long the welcoming community is hostile or vice versa. In addition, humanitarian actors often offer support skewed more to refugees/IDPs and neglect host communities, which triggers conflicts. The bridges our project is building are relational to secure harmony between the refugee/ IDP and host community and secure balanced support by all actors for refugee and host communities.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Our innovation seeks to address the need to be self-sufficient which comes with ability to earn own income and a livelihood and not depend on others for survival. Refugees or Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are usually displaced from their original sources of livelihoods and are heavily dependent on the goodwill of others to provide them with the basic necessities of life such as food, shelter, clothing and medical care, but such goodwill does not accord the individuals the sense of control over the affairs of their lives. Ones' joy, hope of a good future and dignity of life comes when one is aware and has the capacity to earn a living and have control over ones' life. While it is clear that refugees are restricted in a way, their ability to have some degree of control on their lives and incomes is a critical one. Our innovation brings them that opportunity to begin to have control on what they eat, earn and offers them hope of a potential business after refugee life.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Refugees depend on handouts that include food rations, money, clothes and medical-care. While the food rations may be sufficient, it is uniform all the time with little opportunity for feed variety. Our innovation offers refugee households alternative, supplementary and different variety of food. While our innovation does no offer clothing, it offers an alternative and supplementary source of income in addition to the money refugee households receive as donations that they can use to buy clothes of their choice. In addition, while our innovation does not offer gazetted medicine, the products from the innovation are critical for human health - "you are what you eat". The innovation helps achieve the UN Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework-CRRF agenda that seeks to attain self-sufficiency of refugees. We shall know that we are creating positive change when the innovation is widely adopted among the refugees, lasts a long duration and is modified to fit client's aspirations and needs

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

Fish is the best protein source, while horticultural crop products are good sources of vitamins and minerals salts critical for a healthy body. Refugees tend to suffer prevalent nutrient deficiencies that can be sorted by these foods. Our inspiration is demystify access to fish which has for long been thought only possible from lakes, rivers and wetlands, but we are able to take fish farming to non-traditional inland fishing zones. Fish stocks in the wild are dwindling due to over-fishing and our innovation can contribute to the fish stocks on the market. It is fun to watch your fish eat and grow to market sizes and it brings joy that you made it happen. We are also inspired to bring on board many fish farmers that can be organized into cooperative arrangement to improve fish and horticultural crop product supplies, product prices and access to the market. The few individuals with fish farming knowledge are selfish and do not want others to learn fish farming. It is a smart practice.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

Refugees in Adjumani, Chaka II, Nakivale and Rukinga settlements tend to stay for many years and closely interact and share natural resources with the host communities. Competition over resources often triggers conflicts. Also, the skewed manner in which social goods and services is rendered by both the State and humanitarian actors leaves the host communities feeling left-out and this is recipe for further conflict. Refugees come freeing from conflicts in their original countries and so are not happy; have lost their original livelihoods; never seem to be settled or have a feeling of being aliens in their host country, even when Uganda has an "open-door policy" to refugees. There is need to assist refugees regain joy, peace and confidence in the host country as well as assist host communities not to feel left-out in the delivery of social goods and services by all humanitarian actors. The innovation contributes to bridging these gaps.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

Often, refugees enter host community environments that are initially welcoming, but before long conflicts begin as people compete for natural resources. Also, refugee communities tend to receive better social good and services compared to the host community, which causes host community members to wish they were refugees or at least have or strive to have access to refugee benefits. The innovation shall be implemented in both refugee and host communities so that there is no feeling of being left out among the host communities. This will contribute to keeping or improving the relationships between refugees and host communities.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

- Care and Assistance for Forced Migrants - CAFOMI is a NGO already operating in the selected refugee settings. WGI has a partnership with CAFOMI to undertake joint actions. WGI and CAFOMI are already jointly promoting the innovation among refugees in Adjumani district - World Food Program - WFP is a UN agency dealing with refugees in Uganda. WGI will work with WFP to introduce the innovation into refugee settings. Office of the Prime Minister - OPM is a government entity responsible for providing refugee oversight. WGI shall seek clearance from OPM to implement the project in refugee settings UNHCR will be interested in the quality of service WGI offers to refugees UNFAO is already promoting development of the fisheries sub-sector in Uganda Min. of Gender and Labour Min. of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Local government Other Humanitarian actors

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Technology-enabled: Existing approach is more effective or scalable with the addition of technology

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Pilot: We have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users. The feasibility of an innovation is tested in a small-scale and real world application (i.e. 3-15% of the target population)

Group or Organization Name


Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Water Governance Institute (WGI) is research, training and advocacy NGO that deals in water, water associated natural resources (fisheries, forests, land, oil, gas & minerals) and related infrastructure. WGI was founded in 2008 and registered in 2009 as non-state actor. It later transformed its style of operation from the traditional charity organisation to more of a social enterprise. This was aimed at securing sustainability of interventions and reduce the dependency on grant funding. Solar-powered integrated fish & crop (Aquaponics) farming is the organization's agenda of promoting smart agriculture that enhances the household's resilience to climate change effects. WGI seeks to contribute to the development of Uganda's fisheries value-chain that remains underdeveloped for too long. WGI is the leading promoter of Aquaponics in Uganda. WGI operates in Adjumani refugee settings and seeks to intervene in Chaka, Nakivale and Orukinga settlements. WGI collaborates with the partners.

Website URL:

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country

Kampala, Uganda

Organization Headquarters: City / State


Attachments (1)


Describes WGI's path developing Aquaponics and the costings of each unit.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Ashley Tillman

Hi Henry Mugisha Bazira thanks for submitting your idea! Mark Capron shared an idea around Restorative aquaculture and thought it might be interesting for the two of you to connect. Henry's very knowledgable about contextualizing aquaculture and programs within communities of people on the move and Mark you seem to have a lot of knowledge around the science and technology and best practices.

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