The promise and challenges of vegetable home gardening for improving nutrition and household welfare: new evidence from Kasese District, Uganda

  • R. Gerny
  • R. Marsh
  • J. Mwebembezi
Keywords: Home gardens, dietary diversity, vegetable gardens, Uganda nutrition gardens

Abstract

Nearly eighty percent of Kasese District residents in Western Uganda pursue subsistencefarming on the slopes of the Rwenzori Mountains where soil erosion and poverty contribute to declining agricultural yields, food insecurity, and high rates of stunting and wasting in children. In 2017, the Rwenzori Center for Research and Advocacy (RCRA) began a pilot home garden program aimed at sustainably improving nutrition for vulnerable households in Kasese. In 2019, the research team investigated whether a home garden intervention for nutritional benefit is an effective entry point to achieve broad household welfare. Data were collected from fifty randomly selected households in four sites with varied degrees of exposure to the garden intervention. Methods included a questionnaire, innovative card sorting game (CSG), 24-hour recall nutrition survey, indepth interviews, and case stories of diverse Kasese women. Findings show that households experience diverse garden benefits and challenges depending upon baseline conditions, such as access to land, water, and money, as well as the quality and consistency of the technical and material support received. The frequency of vegetable consumption per day showed the most consistently positive results across households, while a 24-hour nutrition survey displayed increased consumption of leafy green vegetables high in iron and vitamin A among families with gardens, leading to ‘stronger children’ (CSG scenario) and improved family health. Further, over seventy percent of families generated income from their gardens, though varying widely in capacity to sell year-round. The garden income earned by women gardeners is spent almost entirely on child welfare. On average, more than ninety percent of garden households save ten percent of their income, primarily through Village Savings Groups. Therefore, regarding our research question, there is evidence to affirm that a home garden intervention for nutritional benefit can be an effective entry point to achieve broad household welfare.  This conclusion is supported by numerous previous studies on garden initiatives for improved nutrition around the world.

Published
2021-06-21
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1684-5374
print ISSN: 1684-5358