As Mother’s Day approaches, we are highlighting the hard work of women across the globe who grow food to fight hunger and support their families.
Gardening to fight malnutrition in Nigeria
In the Yobe region of Northeast Nigeria, hunger and conflict are closely tied. Violence and instability create harsh conditions that prevent many families from accessing nutritious food. This is particularly dangerous for pregnant women and their unborn children, who then do not receive enough vitamins and minerals. In 2017, Action Against Hunger began a project in Yobe to solve this problem. We created a program that supports vegetable gardening and nutrition education among pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and mothers with children under five years old.
Before Action Against Hunger introduced the gardening program, mothers like Maria Adamu were unable to provide their children with nutritious meals. Maria, who has 14 family members to feed, lives near one of the 12 health centres piloting the program. Program participants receive packs of seeds, soil, and gardening tools. They plant and care for the seeds, and when the crops are ready to harvest, our team teaches them how cook the vegetables for the best nutritional value. We also teach participants about the nutrition of different vegetables as well as how to look after their crops.
Maria has loved the opportunity to care for her own garden. Now, she no longer struggles to provide her family with nutritious food. “It was so exciting because we started eating the vegetables just 15 days after planting the seeds,” said Maria. “I enjoy cooking the harvested amaranth and spinach with soup as a garnish for jollof rice and noodles. Now my family enjoys eating a healthy diet!”
In addition to cooking the vegetables, Maria sells her extra produce to earn money for her family. She hopes to buy a sowing machine with her savings.
Gardening to fight malnutrition around the world
Nigeria is not the only country where Action Against Hunger operates gardening programs; we have helped families in over 50 countries grow food for themselves. Each program is tailored to the needs of the community it supports, optimizing the program’s success. You can learn more about these projects in our blog post 28 times we used gardens in the fight against malnutrition.
Supporting agriculture among refugee populations makes an especially meaningful difference. When refugees and displaced people can grow their own food, they do not have to rely on food aid. This helps them rebuild their lives and have sustainable access to nutritious food. In Ethiopia, for instance, we have set up a program in the Nguennyyiel refugee camp. We distribute tools and teach participants about growing food, helping them to break the cycle of hunger and conflict.
Action Against Hunger is a leading support to people all over the world who use gardening to fight hunger in their communities. In 2017 alone, we conducted 52 research projects to learn how best to fight malnutrition. That same year, 2.3 million people benefited from our gardening programs. Since then, with your support, we’ve been spreading the benefits of gardening to even more families.