Aquaponics For Triage and Emergency Response (A.F.T.E.R.)


The purpose of this project is to perform a case study on a region based upon their need for emergency response after disaster events.  Since the late 1980’s Thailand has developed into an industrialized country that is now considered a major exporter.  Flooding is prevalent in the Northern parts of the country during the rainy season or because of remnants of tropical storms that strike Vietnam. Currently, urban preventative measures against these events include sandbag flood walls, canal floodgates and barriers. Therefore, Thailand has been selected as the case study region where aquaponics systems will be implemented to help supplement the increased necessity for food resources during disaster events. Influencing the selection of Thailand was the severe flood event of 2011 when floodwaters reached the mouth of the Chao Phyra River and inundated large parts of the capital city, Bangkok. In addition, evidence suggests that an increase of flooding events in Southeast Asia could occur as the result of anthropogenic climate change.

Aquaponics is a food production system that combines aquaculture, the practice of cultivating animals that live in water, with hydroponics, a sustainable method of growing plants in water without soil. Aquaponics originated in Asian culture and therefore the people of Thailand should be receptive to utilizing its resources. Because of the harsh tropical climate in Bangkok and the typical cuisine, the most probable species of fish to thrive are the crucian crap as well as tilapia. The plants used in this system will be lettuce, tomatoes, red romaine, watercress, and lemongrass because herbs and leafy vegetables are the most common aquaponic plants and are also common in Thai cuisine.

Thailand has a population of about 67.5 million people. The concentration of people is mainly centered around the city of Bangkok, with 11 million residents. Many of the inhabitants in Bangkok use the Chao Phyra River as a life and income source. Through the use of ArcMap tools, the aquaponics facility location was determined based on numerous variables including: population density, the flood plain around Bangkok, elevation, and accessibility via transportation routes to the city. The optimal place chosen for the aquaponics system is 80 miles west of the capital city which was determined by synthesizing these variables from the various maps created.

Future objectives of A.F.T.E.R. implementation include: expanding locations, dual purposing facilities, and examining the economic viability of constructing aquaponic systems in Thailand. Since this is a pilot project, it is with high hopes that further applications of aquaponics facilities will be identified in Thailand and other comparable countries. By dual purposing these facilities, the resources produced can still be utilized when emergency response is not necessary. The food can be used in local restaurants year-round and would therefore need to be maintained. The labor needed to provide maintenance to the aquaponics systems will present continual employment opportunities to the citizens of Bangkok.

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Name: Emily Northup
Organization(s): NASA OSSI
Email: [email protected]