Food for thought: Nutritional Gardens in Central African Republic (CAR)

jardins nutritionnels ACF Bangui fev 2014 (32)

As Canadians become increasingly mindful of what they eat and where it comes from, urban gardens are popping up all over. Gardens on roof-tops, patios, backyards of all shapes and sizes, as well as shared community spaces, have been credited as a way to enhance nutritional knowledge, increase a sense of community, and improve food security, especially in impoverished areas.

Globally, nutritional gardens are making a difference where the need is far more dire.

In Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), Action Against Hunger has been working to create nutritional gardens with the help of locals. These efforts help re-build food security by providing a steady source of fresh fruits and vegetables.

But it’s not just about food: a nutritional garden which involves locals in its creation supports important knowledge-sharing. The community increases its understanding of farming and nutrition, while also providing a sense of ownership. This reduces dependency on emergency relief efforts as sources of nutrition, and increases resiliency.

One such nutritional garden was recently set up around the Therapeutic Feeding Unit in the local Health Centre, a unit that provides immediate care for children that are so severely malnourished that they require medical attention to be brought back to health.  Action Against Hunger spoke with community members to explain the garden’s purpose, and the benefits that diversified foods would have for their malnourished children. Community members – specifically mothers of malnourished patients of the Therapeutic Feeding Unit – helped set up the communal garden and now participate in its maintenance.

Action Against Hunger continues to provide the mothers with tools, seeds, and agricultural advice, and most of the women have now taken their knowledge of gardening and started nutritional gardens in their homes. The response from participants is overwhelmingly positive. Their enthusiasm and involvement shows us that a nutritional garden is more than a garden. It is also hope.



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