The objective of Africare IMPACT project is to reduce Global Acute Malnutrition and improve resilience against food-security-related shocks at the household level. With recurrent droughts and persistent high levels of acute malnutrition reported in Turkana County, one of the interventions to enhance local production that Africare came up with was the introduction of kitchen gardens for lead mothers/care group volunteers as well as Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) in Turkwel and Katilu Wards of Loima and Turkana South Sub-Counties respectively. Identified households were trained on how to grow and utilize nutritious vegetables. The project targets a total of 7, 200 households with this intervention.
Encouraged by the new concept, most members of the community were captivated and adopted the kitchen gardens with the hope that they would improve the nutrition status of their household as well as boost the family incomes through the selling of surplus vegetables Echapanar Elizabeth, a mother of four from Turkwell, before getting into the program used to buy her food from the markets.
With her kitchen garden, she now has enough food to feed her family as well as sell to her neighbors. Her diet has also been diversified as her kids were used to only one standard meal but with the introduction of various nutritious vegetables, this is now a thing of the past. Africare is currently distributing four vegetable varieties to the kitchen garden beneficiaries. These are namely black nightshade, amaranthus, crotolaria (mirro), and spider plant (saget).
About 52 kilometers from Lodwar town towards Kakuma, you will get to a small village called Nasiger in Loima Sub-County. Inside one of the homesteads in a fenced corner, you will find a middle-aged lady fetching water using a bucket and watering her plants using a modified jerrican. Her name is Roseline Echuka, a mother who apart from running a small shop in the center has also gone into small-scale household farming. Roseline as she likes to be called is one of the mothers who was identified by the organization in November 2020. She was given seeds in December and three monthsdown the line, the difference is clear. she used to buy her vegetables from the local market, and she did not even know that the vegetables she was buying initially started out as seeds. She planted the seeds and did her first harvest in February 2021.
She is already experiencing a huge difference in her daily diet.“Hii mboga ni tamu sana, inaongeza, damu, inaleta appetite kabisa na pia hata naona kimwili sasa kuna mabadiliko kwangu na kwa Watoto wangu,” (these vegetables are extremely sweet, they have iron, they increase appetite and in terms of body build for herself and children there is a significant difference) she says as she adds more water and continues watering her kitchen garden.
Her sentiments are echoed by Rebecca Ochuka, a Community health volunteer in the same village who says before Africare, they did not know about the various nutritious vegetables available as well as the kitchen garden concept. Now the identified kitchen gardens have readily available vegetables and they no longer go all the way to Lodwar to buy vegetables and even the food variety for the mothers and their families has greatly improved.
Roseline is now even more determined to continue with her garden as she has seen the benefits in terms of the nutritional value as well as saving money that can go a long way in improving the lives of her children and family through paying for their school levies and other expenses. She also hopes that with time, her neighbors will also join her in kitchen gardening as they are also enjoying her harvests.
Africare reaffirms its commitment to supporting small-scale food production to improve nutrition outcomes for pregnant and lactating women, infants, and young children, while simultaneously improving food security and resilience for the entire household.