Project overview

H2Grow is WFP’s hydroponics initiative that brings locally adaptable and affordable hydroponic solutions to vulnerable communities worldwide. By developing low-tech systems from local materials and growing fresh vegetables or animal feed in deserts, refugee camps, or informal urban settlements, H2Grow supports food-insecure families to increase their access to fresh food and raise their income.

 

72,700+
people reached
21
countries supported
Hydroponics

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
Zero
soil
90% less water
90%
less water
75% less space
75%
less space
fast growth cycle
Fast
growth cycle
A portfolio of solutions: Our journey

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. The concept proved to be too early-stage to be a 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.

Present – SCALE: By December 2021, the H2Grow project has since inception supported 21 countries. Recent countries in the portfolio include Burundi, Ethiopia, Libya, Nigeria, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. 

In 2021, a Model Hydroponics School Garden in Lusaka, Zambia, was constructed for learning and applying best practices. Twenty-five additional greenhouses have already been built to produce fresh vegetables to enrich the Home-Grown School Meals (HGSM) Programme managed by the Ministry of Education. Watch video here

By 2021, H2Grow established a Global Community of Practice with representatives from more than 55 organizations. It supported the WFP Nigeria Country Office in building 193 new hydroponics animal feed units, which produced 40 tons of fresh animal feed. 

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 never imagined that I would see vegetables grow in water. Before the hydroponics garden at our school, we would only eat beans and nshima [very thick porridge made from maize meal]. But when the garden was built, we got beans, vegetables and eggplants.”
– Purity, 12-year-old pupil at Hauma Primary School, Zambia.
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: Enables remote 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 facilitates communication and collaboration to stop duplication of efforts and build on successes. In October 2020, we brought together a group of hydroponics experts in a three-day research event 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 has reached its five-year goal of supporting 21 countries by 2021. We target to impact people through enabling partners, making knowledge and materials accessible to farmers, and working towards financial sustainability long-term.

Meet the team

Nina Schroeder
Co Founder - H2Grow WFP Innovation Accelerator
Manuela Zierau
Innovation Scaling Venture Project Manager - Global H2Grow Project
Dipayan Battacharyya
Senior Programmes Officer - Food Assistance for Assets (FFA), WFP HQ
Lorenzo Bosi
Food Assistance for Assets Team Leader, WFP HQ
Lucrecia Bellido
H2Grow Programme Officer - H2Grow Expansion
Sylvia Ngacha
H2Grow Platform Manager
Last updated: 23/06/2022