[TAGDev Story] Vertical Farming Comes to the Aid of Refugee Families

Monique Mededode Sognigbe and colleagues set out to teach the community about sustainable farming at the Imvepi refugee settlement in the newly established Terego District in the West Nile region of Uganda’s Northern Region. This was accomplished through the use of vertical farming. Vertical Farming in Refugee Settings (VEFIRS) – A Tool for Fostering Intergroup Relations and Social Integration demonstrates that in the last decade, Uganda has seen an influx of refugees from South Sudan, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, raising issues of limited agricultural land.

Nelson Papi Kolliesuah of Liberia, Monique Mededode Sognigbe of Benin, Iyaloo Nghinaalo Sheyavli of Namibia, Marveen Nafula of Uganda, and Aaron Ekipetot Nanok of Kenya worked on the VEFIRS project and would later represent Africa at the Geneva Challenge 2022 on advancing development goals focusing on social inclusion in addressing extreme poverty. The demand for land in refugee settlements continues to rise rapidly, causing tensions between refugees and host communities. As a result, refugees continue to face exclusion from social, economic, and political affairs in the country.

Through a multi-storey vertical farming approach, the VEFIRS project aims to increase the adaptive capacity of refugees and the host community in areas with limited land and rocky soil. The goal of this initiative is to assist refugees in becoming self-sufficient to overcome food scarcity and poverty, both of which are causes of unethical behavior. Sognigbe and her team encouraged the refugees to use vertical farming to skill the youth, provide employment opportunities, and generate income from the extra harvest.

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