Growing Hope in the Sahrawi Refugee Camps

         DIG A WELL           BUY  A GREENHOUSE             GROW VEGETABLES

Our Story

This is Asma.  She was born in Smara refugee camp.  So was her mother Fatimatu.  Her grandparents were born in Western Sahara, a disputed territory in North West Africa. They fled to the Sahrawi  refugee camps in 1976 during the war between Morocco and the Polisario when Western Sahara stopped being a Spanish colony.

They have lived in Smara for 42 years waiting for  a referendum to decide who should govern their homeland. 

There are nearly 200,000 people living in the camps in a very inhospitable corner of the Sahara desert.  They run the camps  on a very democratic basis and have set up schools and hospitals.  They have one of the highest literacy rates in Africa and many people have university degrees.

The Sahrawi people are well known for their resourcefulness and determination but for food and water they are dependent on handouts from the World Food Programme.  With the current refugee crisis across the world the amount of food each family receives is getting less.  One of the main things missing from the diet is fresh vegetables which we all need to stay healthy.    Because of a lack of fresh food 44% of the women and 39% of the children suffer from anaemia. (UNHCR)


Our Project

Asma's mum Fatimatu has set up a group who want to start a community project to grow their own vegetables for the people in the camp.  They have done a lot of research and planned and costed everything.  Please read their full project plan on our Facebook page here . 
Because of the harsh conditions, extreme temperatures and lack of water in the desert it is very hard to grow vegetables. However, in the nearby town vegetables are grown successfully in greenhouses but this is expensive to set up.

We need your help.
Help the Sahrawi to help themselves.

We need money to get the project started, money to dig a well, money for the  greenhouse and money for the initial running costs until the project starts to pay for itself and hopefully expand.

In her own words Fatimatu explains the aims of the group

“Our long term aim is to grow everything that we need in the camps and not be reliant on humanitarian aid because now they’ve already had to shrink it to half, by tomorrow there might not be any so I want us to have our own small economy to rely on ourselves. We have electricity, we can dig wells for water, we can improve the soil. We have skilled and qualified people who are keen to be self reliant but due to the circumstances of the refugee status are unable to find work”
Fatimatu Bashir

Our Costs

£15000 will pay for a well.  
£7000 will pay for a greenhouse frame and polythene   
£2000  will pay for tools, seeds  and supplies

We will also aim to help with running costs for a year until they become self-sufficient:
monthly wages
£150 Experienced Gardener 
£150 Engineer 
£100 Project Manager
£50 Secretary
£50 Guard

We are the Western Sahara Support Group. We are based in the United Kingdom. This is how we came into being:

As part of The Woodcraft Folk we have been involved with the refugee camps in the Sahara desert since 2000. This involvement has included hosting children and adults in our homes and at international camps. On one these trips Fatimatu Bashir stayed with us for two weeks as part of a group of 8 children who stayed with 5 families in Manchester and then another two weeks staying with families from Birkenhead Woodcraft Folk. 
Fatimatu is the one in pink sitting bottom left.
The following year 10 of us  visited the camps and stayed with her family and another family.
We have stayed in touch via facebook and more recently WhatsApp.   Fatimatu has been working with a group who have formed a cooperative to start a project growing vegetables and trying to be more self-sufficient and less reliant on aid. It is a fantastic idea and is all about helping people to help themselves. We are in regular contact with Fatimatu  via a WhatsApp.   Fatimatu Bashir has also set up a facebook page on which she is regularly posting updates and pictures. facebook/Western Sahara Support Group 

Fatimatu asked us if we could help the group with funding and as it is such an excellent and well thought out idea we wished to help her.  We have set up the group and have a constitution and a bank account in the UK in the name of our group. The money you give will go into this bank account. We will pay for the main purchases of equipment via bank transfer (the greenhouse can be bought from a company called Sarl Flora Plastic for example) and the remaining money will be transferred to the group in the camps via a company based in Spain that also has many shops in the camps called Al Baraka. This is complicated but as the Sahrawi are refugees living in camps they are not able to have bank accounts in Algeria.  
The equipment and service costs have been identified by the cooperative group in the camps and is detailed above and on our website. 
We hope you agree with us that this is a fantastic project and deserves your donations. Please have a look at our website to find out all about the Sahrawi people, how the project came about and much more detail of the costings and how and why this project will work. 

If you do not know about the plight of the Western Saharan's then I would ask you to read about them on the website as they are often called the forgotten people - nearly 200,000 people waiting for over 40 years to be able to go home. Making the best life they can in the most inhospitable part of the Sahara Desert. 
Let us show we haven't forgotten them. Please please read about our project and if you agree it is a worthwhile project then please donate and share this and lets get it off the ground. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.
Thank you for your support

Aims of Western Sahara Support Group

To support the development of sustainable vegetable growing projects in the Sahrawi refugee camps in southern Algeria.
To fundraise and raise awareness of the Sahrawi refugees and their struggle to improve the quality of life for the wider Sahrawi community based in the camps.
To support, encourage and collaboratively work with people in the camps to establish a cooperatively planned, accountable and organised food growing project.
To develop appropriate partnerships to support the Sahrawis in their endeavours to improve their quality of life chances.


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  • Leo Vizitiu 
    • £5 
    • 1 mo
  • Alison Stancliffe 
    • £70 
    • 2 mos
  • Mary Kenny 
    • £50 
    • 3 mos
  • Julie Marshall 
    • £1,134 
    • 10 mos
  • Edward Billington-Cliff 
    • £50 
    • 15 mos
See all

Fundraising team: Western Sahara Support Group (2)

Western Sahara Support Group 
Raised £351 from 7 donations
Manchester, North West England, United Kingdom
Andy Pitts 
Team member
Raised £1,434 from 6 donations
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