A study conducted by the Kuala Lumpur City Council found that there are approximately 1,500 to 2,000 homeless people in Kuala Lumpur as of February 2016.
Common causes of homelessness are unemployment or limited job opportunities, disability, illness, debt, domestic abuse, drug addiction, lack of affordable housing and transportation. The general perception is that homeless people are too lazy to find work.
The public's mistrust of the homeless creates a social barrier between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' which pushes them deeper into the abyss of poverty. Children born in homeless shelters are more likely to grow up and become homeless themselves. The inability to break this cycle of poverty will create generation after generation of homeless people, causing socio-economic problems for the community and the authorities to fund programs to lift them out of poverty.
Anjung Kelana is a homeless transformation center, built around the idea of changing the lives of homeless people in Kuala Lumpur. It is an initiative of the Ministry of Federal Territories and administered by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall with the idea of solving the homeless problem through urban agriculture.
At this center, homeless people are taught how to grow vegetables, herbs and fruits. They are given an allowance to work in the fields but most importantly, they are taught basic farming skills that they can use to generate income.
"We don't want to just give them fish, we want to teach them how to fish", commented En Rashdan Rashid, KASGE supervisor for the urban agriculture program.
Realizing that urban agriculture is one sustainable solution to the homeless problem, marketing students from UniKL Business School have started a project to market urban agriculture produce from Anjung Kelana to a wider market.
"The objective is not only to market agricultural products, but the bigger idea is how to sell the idea of urban agriculture to society as a whole" said Dr. Muhamad Shahrin Hashim, student project supervisor.
The objective of this project is to identify problems and find solutions to urban agriculture. Anjung Kelana will be a case study for this project and the results can be replicated in other urban areas with similar problems.
At the end of this project, students in collaboration with KASGE will organize a farmer's market to sell and showcase the products of various adjacent urban agricultural sites. However, this farmer's market will not be the end but rather the beginning of the urban agriculture movement as one of the solutions to various socio-economic problems in urban areas.
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