Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2018.


Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Laura Doyle


According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 60% of East Africans live as subsistence farmers. This population is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change which has increased the duration and intensity of droughts and floods. Droughts and floods can destroy an entire season’s harvest, causing sustenance farmers and their families to struggle for food until the next season. In an attempt to mitigate the severe effects of climate change on these farmers and reduce food insecurity in East Africa, the team has designed a small-scale aquaponic farming system that simultaneously grows fish and vegetables. This system is founded on sustainability, as aquaponics uses significantly less water to grow crops than traditional farming, making it more resilient to both severe droughts and floods, the system also does not rely on external fertilizers, and it uses recycled materials as often as possible.

This aquaponic system was designed for women’s collectives in East Africa who requested help in building a portfolio of projects that they can teach to women in rural East Africa. These women’s organizations work in rural villages throughout Uganda and Kenya to help local women and their families adapt to the changing climate. Currently, their efforts have been focused on improving the quality and supply of water in the villages by constructing latrines, water filters, and rainwater catchment systems.

During the 2017-2018 academic year, team members designed and built the aquaponic system in Santa Clara, California, then deployed the first prototype in Kampala, Uganda, and trained several of the collective’s leaders how to build and operate the system.