Ecoparks, as centres for nutrition and training

The Ecopark concept aims to promote the technological and financial means to reduce extreme poverty and malnutrition. The values of sustainable development and maximising local traditions are core to the project.

An Ecopark brings together a coherent whole of converging elements: the cultivation of spirulina, and of medicinal plants and herbs; market gardening in family garden plots; training in nutrition and in running nutritional gardens; fish farming and more.

The ecopark in Madurai

In India, the Ecopark in Madurai is where sustainable development, technology and enhanced local traditions unite to combat dire poverty. Some 30 people work on the two-hectare site, and are involved in the following range of activities:

  • A training course on environment and health for women and children
  • Spirulina cultivation, in ten growing tanks which measure 20 m² each. The monthly harvest is 50 kg. This is distributed to the children in daily doses of 1 g, enough to cure those children who are suffering from vitamin A and iron deficiency. Several neighbouring villages produce spirulina in cooperation with the Ecopark.
  • Cultivation of medicinal plants and herbs
  • Marketing gardening in family plots
  • Training in nutrition and gardening in nutritional gardens. The women learn how to improve the nutritional content of their family’s daily food, using the resources at hand, how to compose balanced menus and how to include spirulina in meals and weaning foods
  • Fish farming: a self-financing project for raising and marketing ornamental fish provides a unique learning opportunity for the children
  • Microcredit: facilitating access to microcredit for rural women, in order to strengthen the local rural economy, as well as boost their autonomy.

Projects in Mali and Madagascar

Antenna is developing new Ecoparks in Mali and Madagascar. In collaboration with a network of partners in Mali, trials will be held on various market-gardening techniques in micro-gardens, as well as those of micro-irrigation (with International Development Enterprises) and organic fertiliser. The protocols for the first trials were drawn up at a workshop in Dakar, and a working group is ready to launch the first project in Bamako. The intention is to set up a training facility in these new technologies on unused land, to increase production and generate income.