In 2019, students from University of California, Berkeley and MMU teamed with RCRA to conduct research on the nutritional and welfare benefits of vegetable gardening in Kasese District, conducting surveys, an innovative card sorting game, a nutritional recall survey, key informant interviews and case stories with 50 randomly selected households. Details of the study were published in the African Journal for Agriculture, Food, Nutrition and Development. The findings and recommendations from this study led to 1,000 Women’s Gardens for Health and Nutrition, in-line with the goal of RCRA to center its support for vulnerable families in Kasese District around sustainable livelihoods, women’s empowerment, and meeting family nutritional and health needs.
All along the way, these women gardeners are supported and trained by the lead project coordinator and agronomist, Doreen Kansiime, with two part-time assistants, and the facilitative support of the RCRA Executive Director and the Senior Technical Advisor. Ms. Kansiime recently completed an intensive horticulture course from Wageningen University. In addition to individual visits to distribute inputs (e.g. seeds, watering cans, liquid neem) and support establishing and monitoring the vegetable nurseries and gardens, Doreen conducts group trainings on key topics: raised beds, composting and mulching, and pest and disease management.
Women are beginning to harvest their first garden crops for home consumption and sale, such as the cabbages and tomatoes seen in the photos above, as well as year-round dodo and sukuma wiki. In September- October of 2021, we will begin conducting short surveys to learn systematically about changes in family vegetable consumption, especially among children and pregnant and lactating mothers, as well as income generated from garden sales, and uses of the money. We will then have a better handle on the full range of health and welfare gains for gardening families, including improved knowledge, self-confidence, and opportunities for peer socialization. Men are joining women in some of the trainings, which bodes well for sustained participation by women and reduced domestic tensions arising from lack of money and food insecurity.
Garden coordinator, Doreen, and MMU intern, Benjamin, guide young mothers on how to sow eggplant seeds in the nursery bed
Doreen and RCRA staff are finishing transplanting seedlings at the office sack garden
MMU interns Benjamin and Wycliff guide a young mother in Kyabarungira on tomato seedling pruning, and they encourage her to remove shade structure to harden the seedlings.
Doreen, garden coordinator, guides young mothers in Kyabarungira on how to sow tomato seeds.
Doreen and the MMU interns guide gardeners in Mubuku how to transplant tomatoes into the Mother Garden. So excited that transplanning has begun!
Doreen encourages gardeners to pick out all of the weeds from the seedlings before transplanting to reduce disease and pests.
Doreen is getting hold of the hoe herself to encourage gardeners how to till their soil and weed the garden