This effort is the second US contribution to the United Nations World Food Programme's activities in Algeria, which endows the refugees with livelihood opportunities and boosts food security in the camps.
The US contribution will allow the World Food Programme (WFP) to augment the access to fresh fish produced in the world's first fish farm in a refugee camp, with an expected annual production of 21,000 kilogram of tilapia fish. Tilapia, which is a resilient fish and can withstand high temperatures, is raised in cycles of 8 months in several basins.
The farm is said to have been constructed in joint-association with the French non-government organisation, Triangle Génération Humanitaire by using funding from the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. Since February this year, WFP has been testing the technique and already trained a team of 15 refugees.
"A fish farm in the desert seems like a crazy idea at first but the technique has been successfully implemented under similar conditions in Algeria and the last months have shown that it can be replicated in these refugee camps where ground water is available. WFP is very grateful to the people and Government of the United States of America for their continued support that provides Sahrawi refugee women and men with opportunities, and help WFP find innovative food solutions," Imed Khanfir, WFP Representative and Country Director in Algeria opined.
The refugees from the Western Sahara have been residing under extremely harsh conditions in five camps in the desert for over four decades near the Algerian town of Tindouf. The malnutrition rates and anaemia prevalence remain a challenge mainly among women and children despite regular food assistance. Refugees mainly rely on the WFP monthly food rations and have limited access to fresh produce.
Since 1986, WFP is in the continuous process of supporting the refugees from Western Sahara in Algeria. The international group has been complementing its traditional kind of food assistance with innovative complementary activities that benefit the refugees with livelihood and resilience opportunities. All these are intended to augment access to fresh, nutritious food among the refugees.
"This fish farm is a successful addition to WFP's low-tech hydroponic units introduced in the camp two years ago allowing refugees to grow fresh animal fodder in just seven days. These food solutions can be replicated anywhere in the world to support the food needs of vulnerable families living in harsh environments," Imed Khanfir added.