Each year the Thought for Food Challenge calls for student proposals to combat food insecurity. The Indian students in team O.A.S.I.S. decided to tackle the challenge of water scarcity with an ambitious plan to reclaim desert land.
Brothers Kashyap Gohel and Chintan Pravin Gohel grew up in Mombasa, Kenya, where water shortages were a regular occurrence during their childhood. Despite proximity to the ocean and heavy seasonal rainfalls, their family had to purchase water the majority of the year. At the age of 10, Kashyap constructed a simple water catchment for the family’s roof— which to this day provides the family with a much-needed additional water source.
The brothers were inspired to team up with fellow students Charles Otieno, Sabrina Mitha, and Sila Kapting’ei to create Project: Desert Farms. The proposal is a five-step plan to reclaim desert land for agriculture. In the first phase, filtered seawater is transported to the desert where the water is desalinated using a system of controlled condensation. In the next stages, the land is cultivated and farming begins. The plan also includes collecting rainwater to supplement the desalinated seawater.
In the search for sustainable food systems, no option should be left unexplored, and the team has taken steps to make their project a reality. They are in the process of constructing prototypes of their desalination structures. Their end goal is to continue the project after university. Kashyap Gohel explains: “As we say, we will bring change, one acre at a time.”