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ARTOS- Opportunity for Everyone

Relying on previous experience gained through implementation of the projects it was noted that actions of PWD associations in Montenegro revolve only around physical accessibility issues, while no innovative projects regarding expansion of employment possibilities or inclusion of PWDs in other endeavors is introduced. According the assessment of UN, PWDs can make the most of their potential in their communities and in the workplace through adaptive, assistive and inclusive technology. Community should create environments for PWDs to find productive work and fully use their skills and capacities.

 

One way of creating a productive environment is introducing aquaponic (AP abbreviation) farming. That is a self-sustainable production system that represents a combination of aquaculture technique (intensive fish farming) with hydroponics techniques (soilless plant farming). Aquaponics is an approach that eliminates flaws of both techniques. AP technology has been applied since the 70s of the last century. It is wide spread in Australia, North America, Middle East, Asia, Europe Philippines and Hawaii. Aquaponic farming is highly suitable for PWD labour because it does not require labour on ground level. All labour can be done comfortably from the wheelchair. Such approach for PWD inclusion is already being used worldwide. There are more than 900 of these projects around the UK, which focus on the abilities of vulnerable adults, as opposed to their disabilities.

In Montenegro there are 5.829 registered unemployed persons with disabilities, out of that number 178 are registered in Employment Bureau of Nikšić and actively seek for the job.

Members of this target groups have very limited opportunity for employment in general especially so in the agricultural sector. Most of workable PwDs actively seek for the job and consider it as basic right and the most important support mechanism to achieve real inclusion in the society. PwDs in Montenegro are faced with physical, psychological, social, educational and other barriers in all life aspects. Looking for work they face day-by-day obstacles preventing them from integrating into the labour market due to problems such as health care barriers, low self–esteem, prejudices of employers and lack of formal work experience which prevent them from integrating in the labour market on an equal footing with other persons, i.e. from being competitive on the labour market and integrating in the society. Particular issue for increasing employment rate of PWDs is to motivate them for participation in activities related to solving this problem and raising their self-esteem.

Through introduction of AP and its integration into existing social support services of project partners and initiatives and existing market demand for locally produced, organic food, farming the PWD community will be able to get involved actively into agriculture. AP greenhouse will both create and promote job opportunities for PWDs. 

The project “ARTOS – Opportunity for Everyone” concerns promotion of employment of PWDs and environmental protection. The action is a pilot that aims to be a part of larger action in the future that will concern scaling up to market size systems and expand possibilities for PWD employment. It is designed to promote the rights of PWDs by means of introduction of aquaponic (AP) farming within a context of socially responsible entrepreneurship that will positively impact both environment and vulnerability of disadvantaged groups. AP greenhouse will create and promote job opportunities for PWDs as well as serve as an excellent educational tool for youth and local population.

The strategy behind the project is to create an economically viable, visible, engaging occupation adopted to the needs and skills of PWDs, but also corresponding to market demands and real economy. Best way to create a meaningful employment is to devise a new profession that does not require extensive formal education and trainings as prerequisite, where the employment will be advantageous for the target group since they will be the first to gain knowledge and skills within it – using reversed discrimination or giving a head start to the group. In addition, the new field opened – aquaponic production, is very interesting to wider public due to increased interest in healthy, sustainable local food production.

Overall objective: To contribute to the prevention of social exclusion of people with disabilities and increase of their employability
Specific objective: To contribute to the employment of persons with disabilities through the introduction and development of adaptive and innovative agricultural technologies
R1. Participants trained for the development, entrepreneurship and work in the field of aquaponic production;
R2. Sustainable jobs for the target group in the field of aquaponic production created;
R3. Conditions for the continuous support and social inclusion of target groups provided;
R4. Project and its results promoted in the media

Target groups of the project are: 1. Unemployed persons with disabilities in Niksic.2. Employers and social partners form private and public sector

Activities of the project are:
A1.1. Initial evaluation and selection of program participants
A1.2. Theoretical training of participants through lectures and workshops AP technology and its suitability for PWD’ employment
A1.3. Providing psychological support to the participants in the program 
A1.4. Study visit to successful examples of AP farming in the neighboring country
A2.1. Designing, procuring and installing a professional AP system adapted to the employment of the target group
A2.2. Selection of employees 
A3.1. Promotion of project and multiple effects to interested parties and relevant social partner 
A3.2. Accreditation of vocational learning programme for the AP system operator
A4.1. Publishing a brochure on AP basics
A4.2. Creation and distribution of promo material 
A4.3. Press conferences

During first eight months of the implementation 20 selected participants of this project are trained theoretically and practically for the construction, operation and entrepreneurship in AP technology. During the training, in addition to specific skills in AP technology, they are given psychological support and motivation for their own enterprise in this area. Three participants has been selected and employed. AP greenhouse has been designed, procure and installed. Installation and initiation of aquaponic system is finished. For the purpose of adaptation of workplace for PWDs adapted office container is rented and equipped for the needs of PWDs and placed next to the greenhouse facility. Accreditation of vocational learning programme for the AP system operator is initiated. Outreach of key message and EU visibility to general public is insured with close cooperation with local media through staging first press conference as well as through designing, procuring and distributing promo material (promo hats, roll-up, T- shirts, notebooks and folders).

Activities planned to be implemented in the following months are:

  • Study visit to successful examples of AP farming in the neighboring country. It is planned to visit Citizens’ Organization “Nešto Više” from Mostar and its eco farm in Humilišani.
  • Organization of AP technology day, where the concept of inclusion of PWDs in development of novel environmental, humanitarian and social support activities will be presented to different stakeholders that have interest to support this venture and its sustainability.
  • Finishing process of accreditation of vocational learning programme for the AP system operators
  • Designing and publishing brochure on AP basis
  • Designing and publishing audio book
Budget:
87.611,60 €
Project beneficiary:
Eparchy of Budimlja and Nikšić
Duration:
14 months (08/02/2017-08/04/2018)
Type of contract:
Grant contract