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Refugee Mothers Embrace Kitchen Gardening to Curb Malnutrition

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Rachael Kitimbo Kayemba, a Nutritionist with Medical Teams International– MTI told URN that expert mothers help to train other families in the community to curb malnutrition and refer affected children to health workers.
Kuol Awur Yai Atim (L-R) and Akech Manyang and expert mothers trained in kitchen gardening speaking to URN - Photo by Dominic Ochola

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South Sudan refugee mothers in Nyumanzi settlement camp in Dzaipi Sub County, Adjumani district have embraced kitchen gardening to curb malnutrition.

A kitchen garden is an area where vegetables, fruits or herbs are grown for domestic use. It is usually found at the back door so that one can walk by it and continuously harvest from it.

Supported by World Food Programme – WFP and other humanitarian agencies, kitchen gardening practically provides a sustainable way for refugee families to grow their own nutrient-rich food to improve their quality of life.

A 2017 analysis by WFP found that global acute malnutrition rates in children of 6-59 months in West Nile and Acholi refugee settlements were between 6.1 and 12.1 percent – amongst the highest in Uganda.

Awur Yai Atim, 35, a resident of Block A and an expert refugee mother with three children trained in kitchen gardening, reveals that growing own vegetables has made it easier to get the nutrition she needs and sell the surplus to supplement her income. 

//Cue in: "We plant greens...... 

Cue out…. us with seeds."// 

Another mother, Akech Manyang, a resident of Block B at the settlement, says kitchen gardens have improved their nutritional status through availability of food and increased household income. 

Rachael Kitimbo Kayemba, a Nutritionist with Medical Teams International– MTI told URN that expert mothers help to train other families in the community to curb malnutrition and refer affected children to health workers.

//Cue in; "We encourage... 

Cue out…. and they cured."//   

Adjumani hosts over 240,000 refugees, the second largest population of verified refugees of any district in Uganda. The refugees reside in a number of settlements including Ayilo I and II; Agojo, Boroli and Baratuku.

The refugees are given plots of land measuring 30x30 meters by the Government for each of the families. This restricts them from carrying out sustainable farming to meet their food needs.  

West Nile and Acholi sub regions in northern Uganda host over 60 percent of the country’s 1.3 million refugees; from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to WFP, providing nutritious food to this large population is a major logistical challenge.