Dorcas Lukwesa, a CAMFED Association member from Zambia and founder of a Mobile Aquaponics agribusiness has been awarded a fellowship by The Resolution Project Social Venture Challenge at the 2021 Mastercard Foundation Baobab Summit.

Winning this competition means great satisfaction and fulfillment to see an idea turning into action and reality.

Dorcas Lukwesa, Agripreneur

The fellowship is a fantastic achievement for Dorcas who pitched her project —  a low-cost, low-carbon aquaponics system — against over 100 submissions from around the world. Only 15 projects were awarded a fellowship – a testament to Dorcas’s hard work, imagination, and tenacity. The competition was hosted by The Resolution Project, which aims to identify entrepreneurial projects with a positive social aspect that have the potential to tackle pressing community issues.

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Dorcas Lukwesa, Agripreneur

Dorcas was supported through secondary school by CAMFED, and went on to study agriculture as a Mastercard Foundation Scholar at EARTH University, Costa Rica. Today she is a climate-smart agriculture expert, passionate about  improving food security and nutrition in her hometown of Nchelenge, Zambia.

Dorcas’s innovative aquaponics system combines fish farming and vegetable production, using organic waste from the fish instead of expensive fertilizer. It is designed to be built with locally available, sustainable materials, and to suit any land type – even areas lacking soil or adequate water supply.

Promoting systems of farming like aquaponics is very important [to tackle the] climate crisis because it uses 90% less water than traditional agriculture, is 70% more productive, does not require soil, does not have weeds, has fewer pests, and can be built at any scale anywhere in the world using available resources like bamboo.

Dorcas Lukwesa

A demonstration aquaponics system

A demonstration version of the system, using bamboo and recycled materials at Auburn University, USA

As a Resolution Foundation Fellow, Dorcas will receive a grant to kick start her social venture, as well as mentorship, resources, professional training materials, and access to a community of like-minded, action-oriented peers. With the grant, Dorcas plans to support 2,000 women over the next five years with training and resources to build aquaponics systems and start their own climate-smart businesses.

Winning the resolution project fellowship with this project idea means that more women smallholder farmers will be given an opportunity to learn about this innovative system and help them improve the production of food in a climate-smart way. This opportunity will enable families to generate income to take their children to school and solve the issues of hunger in our communities.

Dorcas Lukwesa

Dorcas Lukwesa with a vertical aquaponics system

Dorcas learning about other innovative farming techniques that are land and water efficient during her 15-week internship at Auburn University in the United States.

Dorcas has witnessed first hand the impact of climate change on her community. Increasingly erratic weather, including floods and droughts, has devastated crops, causing families to struggle and girls to drop out of school to get married in search of financial security. In Zambia, the impact of climate change on food security is a growing issue as approximately 50% of the population depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, and 23% have experienced severe food insecurity (World Bank 2019).

In a country like Zambia where 95% of the crop production is rain-fed, the need for an alternative farming method that can thrive under climate change on limited resources of water are more crucial than before to ensure food security.

Dorcas Lukwesa

High malnutrition rates, food insecurity and hunger are particularly acute issues among women and children, and are linked to low academic performance at school. With the climate changing faster than ever before, community projects like Dorcas’ are essential to help communities improve resilience to climate shocks, feed their families, and keep children in school.

Zambian women are often at a disadvantage to men with fewer land rights or access to quality soil and farmland. Dorcas’s system significantly increases the amount of food able to be produced in the same area compared with row cropping, enabling women to increase yields, even with little land available.

She hopes the system will allow women to increase the productivity of their smallholdings, increase profits, and potentially tap into new markets. Through her passion for agriculture, Dorcas is multiplying the benefits of her education –  creating sustainable, long term employment opportunities and improving nutrition and prosperity so more girls can stay in school, learn and thrive.

Young women in the CAMFED Association like Dorcas are part of a powerful network of young women leading climate action across Africa. Since 2014, we’ve reached more than 10,000 rural community members, predominantly women, with practical and affordable climate-smart farming techniques that drive up productivity and improve nutrition through our Agriculture Guide program

Read the announcement of The Resolution Project winners on All Africa


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Meet Dorcas, she grew up in rural Zambia and was forced to drop out of school due to poverty. But then a CAMFED Trained Teacher Mentor identified Dorcas as needing financial support and helped her return to school. Today, Dorcas is a university graduate, agriculture expert, and entrepreneur, determined to plow back the benefits of her education to her community.



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Dorcas Lukwesa — a CAMFED Association member and Mastercard Foundation Scholar at EARTH University — showcased her expertise in building resilience to and mitigating the effects of climate change at the World Forum for Democracy’s webinar on Equality, Democracy and Climate Action.



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