Kibera, a neighborhood in Nairobi, will soon be food secure, thanks to two programs by the World Food Program Innovation Accelerator and the Human Needs Project organization. Hydroponics 2 Grow, abbreviated as H2Grow and Empowerment in Action (EMPACT) are aimed at improving the living standards of the nearby populace by not only giving them access to healthy yet affordable food and clean water but also equipping the youth with relevant digital skills to use in making a living working online jobs. Situated at the Kibera town center and the adjacent Olympic Primary and Secondary Schools, the two projects have illustrated that urban farming, if properly implemented, could be the bridge between poverty and food security in cities across the world.
At Olympic High School, on whose farm the H2Grow project farm has been set up, the neatly arranged rows of 4-layer hydroponic structures support healthy-looking Sukumawiki (kales) and Spinach. This initiative by the WFP Innovation Accelerator uses locally adapted, low-tech, and affordable materials to implement hydroponic farming. This is very effective in urban settlements such as Kibera, where land and water are scarce commodities. This innovative style of farming also allows for year-round food production affording the nearby Olympic Primary and Secondary schools, as well as the Kibera community, access to healthy farm produce throughout the year.
More importantly, H2Grow is creating a financially sustainable path to scale up hydroponic farming in urban food production through the use of asset-based loans. These loans are financed using a blend of private capital and grant funding. By using the asset-based loan model, WFP is looking to mobilize private capital from impact investors, development banks, or individual investors.
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