Sustainable Aquaponics for Urban Agricultural and Environmental Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

Sustainable aquaponics as an urban farming tool for food security, environmental conservation and urban development in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Eligibility Criteria

  • I am 18 years old or older.

Initiative's representative name

Emmanuel Olatunbosun Benjamin, PhD

Initiative's representative date of birth

25th November 1977

Initiative's representative gender

  • Man

Headquarters location: country

  • Nigeria

Headquarters location: city


Where are you making a difference?


Website or social media url(s)

Date Started


Project Stage

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working toward the next level of expansion)

Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?

  • €1k - €10k

Organization Type

  • Nonprofit/NGO

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

Novel forms of urban farming practices have been gaining momentum within the debate about the development of urban agriculture and environment conservation. However, these initiatives have been mainly concentrated in cities of the Global North, whereas the fast-paced growing cities of the Global South could harness the maximum potential of these practices e.g. aquaponics to solve the challenges of urban food insecurity, degraded urban environment/landscape, urban unemployment, etc. This kind of urban farming would have great potential in Lagos, Nigeria because the city is Africa’s biggest city and is set to be World’s biggest city by the end of the century; this is where the investment in new forms of urban food production is mostly need.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Food insecurity: it is difficult for residents of Lagos (especially the poorest of the poor) to access fresh food and this is very likely to deteriorate due to the growth in population and impact of the climate crisis. Climate change adaption: developing a practice for urban farming, in a controlled environment, that protects itself from sea level rise and unsustainable resource management in one of the (mega) cities in the world will reduce the cost of fresh food and environmental degradation.

3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

To address the issue of food insecurity (due to climate change and environmental degradation) land expansion into protected areas such as parks and reservations in urban areas is on the increase leading to biodiversity losses. A pragmatic approach to tackling food insecurity as well as environmental degradation in fast urbanizing areas such as Lagos, Nigeria, is solar powered or sustainable aquaponics system. The system uses fish wastewater to fertilize and provide nutrients to vegetables during which the wastewater is recycled for re-use by the fishes. Sustainable aquaponics does not compete for resources such as land as it requires limited space, which makes it ideal for urban areas with prospects of scaling-up. This promising innovation can address the fish and vegetable shortages as well as adverse effect of conventional agriculture such as biodiversity loss in Lagos. Furthermore, sustainable aquaponics promotes the recycling of plastic waste bottles used as nursery grow pots that otherwise would be indiscriminately disposed into the drainage becoming a menace in urban areas, especially during the raining season. This will also limited the number of plastic waste in the ocean.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

While aquaponics as a technology is currently being researched in developed countries, relatively little is done in Western Africa. The non-governmental organization (NGO), Aglode Development Center, involving multiple stakeholders in the assessment of the feasibility of developing an aquaponics system in Lagos, which lays the foundations for further developments/stages of the project. This resulted in a system design that is simple and energy independent compared to existing models available in other regions. Thus, the NGO installed a micro-scale single loop aquaponics system running on a mix of off-grid solar and grid energy in Lagos. This has resulted in baseline data on the viability and performance of aquaponics in Lagos, Nigeria.

5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?

The current phase of the micro-scale project is stakeholder engagement. This involves getting perspectives from vegetable farmers, aquaculturalist, local policy makers and the private sector on the opportunities and barriers to adoption and/or investment in urban climate smart agriculture such as aquaponics. The private sectors participants would be predominantly financial institution (microfinance and commercial banks) that financed urban agricultural investments. The concept is to bring these entities together to concentrate efforts on aquaponics as a novel form of urban farming. This is will be done by inviting all this stakeholders to the project site for a visitation were issues related to the prospects of scaling-up would be discussed. The rationale behind this is to develop a novel forms of urban farming that has the potential to reduce the pressure on hotspots of biodiversity as well as forests, by not supporting the need for clearance of these areas for new agricultural land.

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

The project has sought to include young motivated people in the promotion and implementation of the initiative, with a special focused on capacity building, training and knowledge transfer. A full-time technical assistant was hired in October 2019, on a temporary basis, for a period of a year as well as three casual workers. There were (three) youths from within and outside the community invited on-site to evaluate aquaponics as a modern climate smart agriculture (CSA) option for their agribusinesses. The first (partial) harvest of vegetables and fishes from the aquaponics system has been showcased within the Shasha community in Lagos and documentation of its dietary coverage for an average family is on-going. This involves providing the vegetables and fishes harvested to a total of 6 households in the community for free. We shall use monitoring and evaluation techniques such as the nutritional adequacy assessment, cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis to measure diverse impact.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

The growth strategy that will be pursued by organization will include open source information sharing, training of urban dwellers and geographical spread of aquaponics across Lagos, Nigeria. The next stage of the project is to design a small-medium scale sustainable aquaponics prototype as a community product. It is expected that during the planning of such project the active involvement of local authorities would be vital such that that once such system is operational, it can be showcase as community-led project. This would ascertain that the geographical spread of aquaponics in urban area of Lagos, which otherwise would be an isolated case, is guaranteed. The long term plan is to have aquaponics clusters in the city.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?

The implementing organization being a non-governmental organization (NGO) implies it has a strong social impact focus. Part of the socioeconomic benefits to the host community is the training of youths. This initiative would like to tackle the (chronic) youth unemployment in Lagos through its scale-up strategy, as well as exploring opportunities to expand aquaponics system with the right public/private support. The planned scaling of the sustainable aquaponics system will generate revenue, which would not only be re-invested into advancing aquaponics awareness and research but community projects esp. in the area of education. This would entail donation of micro-scale aquaponics systems.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

The management of the organization, social investors as well as a research foundation in Germany made the seed funding for the micro-scale aquaponics project possible. While the purpose of the micro-scale aquaponics project is to test the performance and variability of a varieties of (stable) vegetables and 2 species in Lagos for baseline data collection, the long term goal is to design a profitable small-medium scale aquaponics system. The funding for the next phase of the project is expected to be from third party application. The project in the medium and long term is expected to sustain itself through the sales of its harvested product and the diversification to commodity processing and trading in urban centers.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

The team is made of two trustees, two directors, one full-time technical assistant as well as a part-time administrator and casual workers. The trustees are Mr. Dare Balogun, an urban town planner and Mrs. Temilade Adewunmi a financial services practitioner. The directors are Dr. Emmanuel O. Benjamin and Mr. Oreoluwa Ola both agric. economists. Mr. Sulaimon Babalola is the technical assistant and hold a HND while Mrs. Ifeoluwa Ola, a PhD student in Nigeria, is the administrator and researcher.

11. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Vittel page or contact
  • Email

Evaluation results

5 evaluations so far


Yes, absolutely! - 40%

Yes/maybe - 0%

Maybe - 60%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%


5 —Absolutely! It’s crystal clear how the solution is directly contributing to preserving and/or restoring biodiversity. - 40%

4—Yes, it establishes a clear connection to biodiversity. - 20%

3—Somewhat, the entry speaks to biodiversity but the direct impact is not well established and/or it is focused on a single species without considering its impact on the broader ecosystem - 20%

2—Not really, the connection to biodiversity is weak - 0%

1—No. The entry does not reference the solution’s impact on biodiversity. - 20%

3. 3) Is this entry IMPACTFUL?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 20%

4- Yes, I think so. - 40%

3- Maybe. - 20%

2- Probably not. - 20%

1- No. - 0%

4. 4) Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 0%

4- Yes, I think so. - 60%

3- Maybe. - 40%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

5. 5) Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 0%

4- Yes, I think so. - 40%

3- Maybe. - 40%

2- Probably not. - 20%

1- No. - 0%


5 -Yes, absolutely! - 20%

4- Yes, I think so. - 40%

3- Maybe. - 40%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

7. 7) Does this entry value COLLABORATION WITH OTHER STAKEHOLDERS in its approach?

5- Yes, absolutely! - 0%

4- Yes, I think ko. - 80%

3- Maybe. - 20%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

8. 8) FEEDBACK – Highlights

INNOVATION: You have a great understanding of the problem, have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions - 100%

IMPACT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 100%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: You have a thoughtful plan for growth and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 100%

VIABIBLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 100%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: You value thinking around how to activate changemakers and empower them to innovate through your product or programming - 100%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: You have a clearly defined plan on how to maximize shared value across multiple sectors and stakeholders - 100%

WRITING STYLE: Your writing style is concise, descriptive, clear, and specific - 0%

Other option - 0%

9. 9) FEEDBACK - Areas for Improvement

INNOVATION: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 75%

IMPACT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 25%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 50%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 100%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: your plan can benefit from more thought on how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 25%

WRITING STYLE: Try to be more concise, descriptive, clear, and specific. Avoid jargon. - 50%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 0%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming - 50%

Other option - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Sebastião Alves

Prezado Senhor Emmanuel,
Parabéns pela iniciativa de apoiar o desenvolvimento de agricultura urbana como proposta que pode ajudar a sustentabilidade alimentar e contribuir com a preservação do meio ambiente.
A aquaponia seguramente pode ajudar a conquistar esse intento.

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