28 times we used gardens in the fight against malnutrition

Photo: Lys Arango for Action Against Hunger, Colombia. Gladis Nidey Pérez is a community leader of a women’s association where Action Against Hunger has helped with the planting of a garden. The project is part of our food security and livelihoods program there, where the produce they grow will not only allow them access to nutritious foods, but helps their members with additional income as well.


Gardens are an invaluable tool in the fight against hunger. They do more than provide nutritious food! Thanks to your support, we use gardens in the fight against malnutrition in over 50 countries around the world, including Canada. We thought we would share some of the gardens you’ve helped us grow thanks to your support of our work.

Did you know we’re also growing a virtual garden to allow us to bring gardens to more communities? Sow a seed today so we can make hunger go away!


Gardens feature in all aspects of our work: most obviously in our nutrition, food security and livelihoods programs but also in our water, sanitation and hygiene programs, as well as our emergency response programs.


In our Emergency Response programs, we use gardens to ensure a balanced diet is possible for displaced persons living in refugee camps. Basic food rations are intended to keep people alive, but long term, they don’t provide balanced nutrition. By creating gardens and greenhouses in refugee camps, we can ensure families are able to provide nutritious meals to their children.

Ethiopia: Food rations are the main source of food for people living in refugee camps. They receive cereals, sugar, and oil, but that doesn’t make for a healthy diet on its own. In Ethiopia, for example, we helped to develop home gardens in refugee camps, targeting households with children or pregnant and lactating women affected by malnutrition.

South Sudan: In 2016, ongoing conflict, worsened by crop deficits, shortages of basic food staples, and inadequate rain, contributed to unprecedented levels of hunger and acute malnutrition in South Sudan. More than half of the country’s population urgently require food assistance. Of our many strategies, we also established partnerships with displaced families to plant vegetable gardens for food and provided cash-for-work to meet urgent food needs.

Iraqi Kurdistan: Muhammad, a Syrian refugee in Iraqi Kurdistan, picks vegetables as one of his daughters looks on. Action Against Hunger is helping to add more greenhouses to an agricultural program at a refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan. The greenhouses have had many positive effects — in addition to improving the quality of and quantity of food in the camp, it’s improving financial independence. The greenhouses are 4800 square feet, and we hope to sustain the program by developing links with local farmers so that they can advise refugees.

Bangladesh: A garden in Kutupalong refugee camp, where currently 317 000 refugees are living. This garden is right in front our Emergency Operations Centre, where we distribute thousands of meals every day especially to children under five. In Kutupalong, displaced families plant their own vegetable gardens for food and also work in the gardens of others for income to meet urgent food needs.



In our Nutrition & Health programs, we help communities grow communal edible gardens next to our treatment centres so that parents can have access to the fruits and vegetables they need to keep their children from suffering from malnutrition.

Central African Republic: Nutritional gardens can be a powerful tool. As an example, let’s look to Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR). Action Against Hunger has been expanding our efforts in this vulnerable country in response to increasing needs. Due to civil war, malnutrition in CAR has increased exponentially in recent years. In response, we’ve implemented additional efforts to treat existing malnutrition and restore food security. These efforts include working with locals on gardens packed with nutritional edibles like lettuces, cucumbers, eggplants, tomatoes, carrots, and amaranth.

Action Against Hunger often creates edible gardens next to our malnutrition treatment centres. These edible gardens will be used to nourish the parents of hospitalized children (who often struggle with their own nutritional needs), teach gardening techniques, and support cooking demonstrations, so that parents have the ability to better feed their own families and communities. The gardens provide food diversification and rapid access to nutrients because they grow quickly (for example, the edible leaves of amaranth are available for eating just three weeks after planting). We provide the seeds, tools and demonstrations to the community volunteers. After the gardens are well established, community members continue to manage the gardens themselves.

Niger: We introduced kitchen gardens to Niger during the 2012 Sahel crisis. “Since we started working in the garden, our condiment problems are solved and everybody eats good sauce by harvesting directly in the garden leaves and vegetables. Besides, quantities of grain that were not sufficient enough before are now sufficient thanks to the abundance of leaves” Sayon Dembele from Kénékan village, Niger. “Thanks to the garden, there have been many changes in the village. First of all as far as health is concerned… Because the garden provides vegetables, full of vitamins which fight against diseases, namely lettuce, tomato, cabbage, onion etc…” Badiali Damba from Simbona hamlet, Gakouroukoto, Niger.

Mali: In response to high acute malnutrition rates, we have operated in the district of Kita since 2007 and have put in place an innovative multi-sectoral strategy to fight malnutrition by combining food security, education, health and water, and sanitation programs. In the south of Kita district, populations have access to staple foods. However, they have little access to basic drinking water facilities and lack food diversification in their diets. In response to the situation, we use our “Health Gardens approach” to provide mothers with necessary basic knowledge to improve the nutritional situation of their families through nutritional education and improvement of food consumption diversity.

Burkina Faso: In the West African nation of Burkina Faso, many families struggle to make ends meet in the face of a weak economy, the aftermath of the food crisis in the Sahel region, frequent cholera outbreaks, and an influx of refugees from neighbouring Mali. To address the underlying causes of malnutrition in the rural village of Birminga, Action Against Hunger helped local women establish a vegetable garden. Rural villages often don’t have access to markets because of a lack of transportation. To ensure they can still access a variety of fruits and vegetables, we’ve helped develop health gardens in Pama District, Burkina Faso.

Before, many of the village’s children were weak and becoming sick, and it wasn’t known that this was due to the lack of nutrients in their diets. With your support, and that of our partners, we helped to dig a well and provided the tools and seeds to start village gardens. The food grown has produced its own seeds and allowed communities to become self-sufficient with a diverse array of fruits and vegetables. Ouoaba Pouguidiba, the President of the community garden initiative, shared her experience.

Thanks to this programming, we’ve seen a sharp increase in the proportion of children consuming at least four health food groups, from 45% to 85.5%.

Peru: In Peru, we’re dedicated to reducing child malnutrition, working closely with health services and government on a local, regional and national level to look for culturally acceptable and cost-efficient ways to address high levels of malnutrition in the Peruvian Highlands. To that end, we’ve supported the creation of vegetable gardens to reduce family expenses for purchasing vegetables, and to increase the amount of vegetables used in meals.



In our Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) programs, we protect household and community gardens by mitigating climate shocks due to flood and drought. We do this by building wells and water management canals. Pairing gardens with our WaSH programs means we can ensure that more families can benefit from gardens year-round, and not just in the rainy season.

Haiti: As part of Action Against Hunger’s food security programs in Haiti, ponds to store water have been dug to help farmers with their microgardens – a way for them to have access to water, even in dry months. The community has also been trained in how to maintain the ponds for years to come. Djuny Duvernoit, 28, who has worked for Action Against Hunger for 21 months as an agronomy engineer (pictured above in blue), is one of the area’s leaders.

Cambodia: Mr Tep Torin, 62 years old and father of 4 children, attends to his herb garden created with the help of Action Against Hunger food security and livelihoods programming. This support included also the construction of a nearby pond that Mr. Tep uses in the dry season and a water container that retains rain water adjacent to his home, in the village of Tmat Peuye, Preah Vihear province, Cambodia.

Indonesia: Before Action Against Hunger’s water initiatives in Timur Tengah Selatan District, Indonesia, households were forced to walk 1-2km 2-3 times per day to bring water for household and garden needs. The provision of water sources to remote communities in traditionally dry regions has had a positive impact on households’ day-to-day living and provided a key source of irrigation for household gardens. Thanks to more plentiful household gardens, on average, 85% of households consumed 4-6-vegetable varieties on a weekly basis. Compare this to before our irrigation initiative, where household diets comprised of only 2-3 vegetable varieties, comprising mainly of corn and cassava. More households were also able to sell surplus to local market.

Somalia: Working in a kitchen garden field with the help of our team in Wajid, 320 kms west of Somalia’s capital Magadishu. Kitchen gardens benefit the Somali Bantu population who are settled people, but are usually disadvantaged in society and discriminated against, and thus have no part in the management of water facilities. We also offer training on waste water management for productive use in the garden. Kitchen gardens have been used in Somalia to grow tomatoes, spinach, pumpkin, green peepers, pumpkin, aubergines, as well as sugar cane, date palms, guava, passion fruit.

Bangladesh: Our team in Bangladesh recently completed a project in a flood-prone area in south-west Bangladesh. Shiba Rani’s homestead is located in a flood-prone area. Thanks to some recent work in her area, her home and livelihood are now protected from waterlogging and flooding. Activities included flood and erosion protection through the building of terraces and water channels, which also helped store water and mitigate the impact of drought. By ensuring her area was better protected from climate shocks, she can safely invest time into her garden.



In our Food Security & Livelihoods programs, we help households grow their own kitchen gardens. These gardens provide direct and convenient access to nutritious fruit and vegetables right next to their homes, but they also boost income through the sale of extra produce, and frees up income that would otherwise have been spent on expensive fruits and vegetables. We also grow demonstration gardens in this type of programming, an educational tool to introduce communities to planting and harvesting their own food and as an income generating activity.

Zimbabwe: In order to increase the diet diversity and the food security of people living with HIV in Chipinge district, Action Against Hunger promoted the implementation of gardens. We rehabilitated water points for irrigation; provided garden fencing, training on gardening techniques, harvesting and nutrition; distributed seeds (winter and summer vegetable seeds: spinach, carrots, rape, onions, tomatoes, okra, amaranth, peas, butternuts, green beans, covo); and provided post harvesting monitoring and technical support. 31 gardens have been established, involving 1120 households. All people living with HIV in Chipinge district have access to appropriate treatments, including anti-retroviral drugs.

Colombia: Professor Melkar shows Gloria Gomez, coordinator of Action Against Hunger’s food security programs in Colombia, the crops of beans, potatoes, granadillas, wheat grown in the school of Chuguldí, Samaniego’s demonstration garden. Demonstration gardens are just one of the ways Action Against Hunger supports agricultural extension officers and horticultural education across the world.

Uganda: Members of one of 120 mother-to-mother support groups set up by Action Against Hunger near Adjumani, northern Uganda, have established a new kitchen garden outside the settlement of Mungula. In each group, we train an elected lead mother to teach the others about nutrition, infant feeding, hygiene and staying healthy. Agnes Namadi, 29, explained to the BBC that she has learned about the importance of avoiding illness and malnutrition, and adds: “When you eat cassava it gives you energy and these greens and mangoes can give you vitamins.”

Sierra Leone: 500 households from two chiefdoms in Moyamba District (Bagruwa and Bumpeh), have received assorted vegetable seeds and technical training on plot layout, nursery establishment, compost preparation, planting and pest management. With this support, these households are able to engage in vegetable and pulse production to improve their household dietary diversification and income generation.

Georgia: Our team in South Caucases launched the Integrated Home Gardens project in several regions of Georgia to promote self reliance and improve the welfare of Internally-Displaced Persons and Returnees in Eastern Georgia and Abkhazia. Home gardens are increasingly being seen as a key element in the global fight against hunger and to support household food security and livelihoods. They can provide essential micro-nutrients, income opportunities, protection from shocks, and enable increased expenditure on education and health care from savings on food purchases.

The promotion of sustainable techniques is key; householders require fewer costly inputs such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides while improving the condition of the soil over time. Low input/high output techniques such as no tillage, green manure, and inter-cropping also require less labour, valuable in communities where much of the gardening is carried out by women with additional responsibilities.

Liberia: We’ve been present in Liberia since 1990, and among many strategies we use, we tackle the underlying causes of malnutrition by helping families set up their own vegetable gardens. This allows families to access sustainable source of food and income. After years of hardship, food security and nutrition are now improving in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city. We have been running programs in which vegetable gardens are used to improve food security and nutrition, and also boost incomes.

In just one year, we’ve seen mothers learn how to secure their own livelihood and provide the best possible nutrition for their families. Following a visit to one of our feeding centres in Monrovia, where her two-year-old daughter was treated for malnutrition, Nancy joined our program to help mothers cultivate their own vegetable gardens. An increase in the consumption of vegetables, fruit, and protein is vital to reducing chronic malnutrition, which affects 45% of under-fives in Liberia.

Guatemala: Gardens provide a community and family with access to ingredients for the preparation of foods that are of high nutritional value and locally available for improved acceptance into families; they respond to cultural, commercial and environmental barriers that increase food insecurity for the community. Gardens are of increased importance during periods of seasonal hunger, when employment and income decrease and the community retains a sense of autonomy over their food access, while improving overall nutritional status and can positively influence the reduction of chronic malnutrition over time.

India: Gardens feature in our work in India in two ways, kitchen gardens and community gardens. Kitchen gardens provide easily available vegetables to meet immediate nutrient requirements at each household. Most homes now have a kitchen garden that the family is delighted of and tends to regularly and from which they are able to sell some produce. Centres now have a community kitchen garden where residents of the village share work responsibility and also the fruits of their labour. This has helped the communities to become more accountable towards the health of their children.

Mauritania: In the Gorgol and Guidimaka regions of Mauritania, Action Against Hunger reached 1,440 beneficiaries using our Health Gardens approach. In this approach, vegetable gardens are developed in collaboration with women targeted on the basis of their nutritional vulnerability. Vegetables are chosen on the basis of their nutritional value, gardening trainings are accompanied by sensitisation on nutrition, breastfeeding, weaning and complemented with cooking demonstrations. Great attention is paid to the mother and child couple, with baby corners and other such initiatives. Community involvement in all stages of the Health Gardens ensured ownership of the initiative. Health Garden activities in Mauritania were also integrated with WaSH interventions. 126 Health Gardens were set up, of which 60 included innovative hydroponic systems, supporting 180 households.

Myanmar: Saynuwara shared her garden story with us: “I was just looking for a way to survive and feed my family. Before I joined the project, I did not have any knowledge of homestead gardening. Since I’ve been selected by the project, I took the chance to learn a lot. The project gave me training on good agricultural practices and sustainable agriculture. I learned about pest and disease management, water management, natural pesticide making, compost making, and seed saving in a bottle mixed with ash. Through this project I can access fresh vegetables and year round availability of food is guaranteed. Now I grow a variety of vegetables such as, okra, chili, corn, beans and sweet potato. Life is better now and I can save money.”

Nepal: Nepal is another country in which we implement our kitchen garden programming. Kitchen gardens and greenhouses/polytunnels help increase access to a varied diet, which is especially needed in Nepal’s rugged, mountainous terrain. Some rural areas are cut off from the road network during monsoon season, increasing the need to be self-reliant. With this in mind, Action Against Hunger distributed vegetable seeds but also fruit trees, for long term benefits. Kitchen gardens are also being grown at schools to ensure school-aged girls have access to a mid-day meal. This in turn enhances their performance and participation, to one day break the cycle of poverty and hunger.

Gaza: Abd Alla is greenhouse farmer and a father of five sons, and they depend on their greenhouse for their livelihood. Due to partial damages accrued in the greenhouse they couldn’t be able to cultivate it. Recently Action Against Hunger rehabilitated it and supported Abd Alla and his sons to resume their work and cultivate the greenhouse with tomatoes.

Senegal: Over 1,800 people are growing their own nutritious food in supervised community gardens, and have had training on the agricultural techniques required. Women who work in the gardens have been equipped with gardening tools including seeds, shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows and spades. While majority of the produce from the gardens provides the women with a supply of healthy vegetables for making family meals, some are sold in the local markets, which provides income to cover the running costs of the gardens, such as water bills and petrol for pumps.

In addition, across 7 different schools, students aged between 14 and 18 in teams were tasked with watering, planting and maintaining gardens. The produce from the gardens are being used in the school canteens for healthy meals. Students have also taken part in classes to improve understanding of the causes of poor nutrition, and the different types of food that are required to make healthy family meals; knowledge they can take home to their parents, and use if and when they become parents themselves.



In our Food Literacy programs, we use mobile gardens to teach how to grow and cook their own nutritious food, and equip them with life skills and healthy habits to create sustainable change for themselves and their communities.

Canada: In Canada, we’ve launched Generation Nutrition, our mobile food garden education project for Canadian youth across the country.

Hand-in-hand with educators and community members, we work with Canadian schools to:

  • Provide horticultural modules on how to grow, maintain, and harvest fresh fruits and vegetables from an innovative mobile gardening system that makes it possible to grow produce almost anywhere.
  • Engage youth in experiential education modules, ensuring that they understand the issues around food insecurity and malnutrition and know how they can create sustainable change.
  • Connect students with professionals from the food sector, including chefs, organic farmers, dietitians, gardeners, and market vendors.
  • Teach students how to prepare and cook nutritious and affordable meals using the harvested produce, in partnership with local culinary schools and restaurants.


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