Project overview

H2Grow is a WFP innovation that brings locally adaptable and affordable hydroponic solutions to vulnerable communities around the world.

people reached
active countries
female participation

Grow anywhere: Hydroponics is a soilless cultivation technique that enables plant growth in arid or peri-urban areas. It uses up to 90 percent less water and 75 percent less space, while producing crops at growth rates 100 percent faster than traditional agriculture.

Zero Soil
90% Less Water
less water
75% less space
less space
Fast growth cycle
growth cycle
A portfolio of solutions: Our journey

H2Grow has been growing organically since 2016, offering a portfolio of solutions ranging from fresh animal feed for livestock to vegetable production on household level and in institutions such as schools.

Present – SCALE: H2Grow is being rolled out in 9 countries always adapted to the local context with the users themselves. In Zambia, 23 greenhouses in schools produce fresh vegetables to enrich school meals under the ownership of the Ministry of General Education. Through 234 new units in Chad, communities were able to produce 340 tons of hydroponically grown animal feed in 2020, making them resilient during COVID-19. This gave them the ability to grow food when markets were closed or should be avoided.
2016 –DESIGN: Together with food-insecure families living in the arid urban slums of Lima, Peru, WFP tested hydroponic methods to design an easy-to-implement solution for growing vegetables using locally-sourced materials.
2017 – FAIL: Deployment of a high-tech controlled environment Food Computer was tested for 6 months in Jordan to identify the best growth conditions for highly nutritious crops. Concept proved to be too early-stage to be field ready.
2018 – ITERATE: Sahrawi refugees in the Algerian Sahara Desert adapted a high-tech hydroponic system to their specific context, using local materials. Through multiple iterations they created a low-tech and accessible solution that provides a sustainable food supply for livestock. This became the base for replicating the model in other contexts such as Chad as well.

Tailored solution that works

Together with the communities H2Grow adapts its hydroponic systems to the local context making it affordable and available. By developing low-tech systems from local materials, growing fresh vegetables or animal feed in deserts, refugee camps or urban informal settlements, H2Grow supports food-insecure families to increase their access to fresh food and raise their income. Looking at the cost benefit and how it fits into the local market in each country is a key factor of success.

Through tailored training programs hydroponic farmers learn everything from a basic understanding of the agricultural technique, daily management of their crops to dealing with pests and diseases. It empowers them to grow food, escape hunger, improve their nutritional status and earn their own income by selling food on the market.

“I have shifted from losing my cattle to feeding them well and selling my surplus fodder to my neighbours."
– Arafa, Hydroponic farmer in Chad
Scale through enabling others

H2Grow is scaling not only by expanding the operations on the ground but also by enabling others to use the hydroponics technique in the development and humanitarian context. The H2Grow Community connects everyone working in this space. This includes practitioners implementing a hydroponics project with WFP, other UN agencies, NGOs or social businesses, governments as well as technical experts. Through the H2Grow training and community Platform these stakeholders can learn and replicate the approach. This unique digital learning pace is focused on knowledge sharing where user-generated and localized content is shared globally.

H2Grow Learning Platform
H2Grow Platform

community - training - sharing 

Global Community: Connect and exchange with the global hydroponics community.

Knowledge sharing & expert support: Take e-learnings, learn from peers and experts, and share your knowledge globally.

H2Grow App: Enable remorse training and support for hydroponic farmers, community champions and agricultural extension workers - coming soon!


Global H2Grow Community

The goal is to share knowledge on hydroponics in the humanitarian and development context globally. Within the community of practitioners, experts and advocates H2Grow is facilitating communication and collaboration to stop duplication of efforts and build on successes. In October 2020 we brought together a group of hydroponics exports in a 3-day research event in order to tackle the most pressing issues slowing down the scaling of the initiative. Read more about the virtual event here.

“My individual contribution: I am interested in developing organic nutrient solutions further and support the set up of a compendium of case studies from the field.”
– Marc Beckett, Research Scientist, Fraunhofer Institute
Our vision

H2Grow aims to expand to a total of 21 countries by 2021. We target to impact two million people through enabling partners, making knowledge and materials accessible to farmers, and working towards financial sustainability long-term.

Meet the team

Nina Schroeder
Head of Scale Up Enablement, WFP Innovation Accelerator
Manuela Zierau
Innovation Scaling Venture Project Manager - Global H2Grow Project
Mark Gordon
Head of Asset Creation and Livelihoods Unit, WFP HQ
Dipayan Battacharyya
Programme Officer - Deputy of Asset Creation and Livelihoods Unit, WFP HQ
Matteo Vailati
Programme Policy Officer - Technical Expert
Lucrecia Bellido
H2Grow Programme Officer - H2Grow Expansion
Last updated: 31/08/2021