Nigerian MIT Student Wins Mohammad Yunus Challenge to Alleviate Poverty through Improved Agricultural Processes

MIT Global Challenge 2011 is over and a team lead by a Nigerian student wins Mohammad Yunus Challenge to Alleviate Poverty through Improved Agricultural Processes. She will be working to help the Niger Delta of Nigeria. Congratulations  Ogheneruno!


Project Name: Maa-Bara: Catalyzing Change

Closed-loop system producing healthy fish and vegetables in areas with limited arable land, increasing food security and providing jobs starting in the Niger Delta


Our Pitch

In the agrarian society of the Niger Delta, spillage from oil extraction causes pollution of soil and water stifles both fishing and farming activities, crippling the local economy where there is 85% adult unemployment. Our solution is “Maa-Bara,” a scalable, locally sourced, locally crafted structure for the propagation of fish and vegetables atop this oil-polluted landscape. Translated “Water-Farm” in Ogoni language, Maa-Bara is a zero-waste sustainable agricultural model. Each Maa-Bara structure is designed to utilize kitchen scraps to feed tilapia fish. The tilapia produce waste, which becomes nutrient solution for hydroponics (growing vegetables without soil). In the summer of 2010, the team traveled to the Niger Delta and secured partnerships with Enterprise for Development International (formerly TechnoServe, Nigeria) and River State University of Science and Technology. In October of 2010, one of our team members constructed a 50-gallon proof-of-concept pilot. Shell Oil is on board to fund the roll out and scaling up of the project following a successful pilot in the Niger Delta.

Innovations: Vertical design uses gravity for aeration of water in lieu of aerator. Vertical design creates shade for workers, fish, and plants. Peer-to-peer agricultural training program in the fishing villages of the Niger Delta, partnering with University.

The problem:



Providing sanitary food and creating employment opportunities for the 200 people living near Bodo, Niger Delta.


2011 Yunus Challenge: Agricultural Processes


Who We Are

OGHENERUNO OKIOMAH  – Ogheneruno will head the execution of the pilot project of Maa-Bara in the Niger Delta in collaboration with the non-profit Enterprise for Development International (formerly TechnoServe Nigeria). Ogheneruno was raised in Nigeria and designed the Maa-Bara as her Master in Architecture thesis at MIT. Ogheneruno traveled to Nigeria (Summer 2011), secured commitment from RSUST (University in Nigeria), Enterprise for Development International (largest NGO in Nigeria) and the Bodo community to execute the project pilot in Niger Delta.


Other past and present winners are

What an extraordinary year it has been – thank you everyone who has helped to make this year’s launch an exciting occasion. We have an online archive of last night’s awards – you can check it out here:

With a special shout out to Indian Mobile Initiative for winning in all three categories, this year’s winners are:

$5000 Community Choice Awards

2.   AQUA

IDEAS Awards

1.   BIODIESEL – $5000
2.   EYECATRA – $5000
3.   HYDROHARVEST – $5000
5.   SAFE WATER WORLD – $5000
7.   SOLAR AUTOCLAVE – $7500
8.   INNOBOX – $7500
9.   LOW-COST AUTOCLAVE – $10,000
10. ASSISTIVE TECH – $10,000

$10,000 Global Challenge Awards

3.   PRACTICAL ENERGY NETWORK – winner of the School of Engineering’s Global Villages Challenge
4.   INDIAN MOBILE INITIATIVE – congratulations on your sweep in all three award categories!
5.   MAA-BARA – Winner of the Mohammad Yunus Challenge to Alleviate Poverty through Improved Agricultural Processes

You can learn more about this year’s teams at:


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