Household gardening with traditional African vegetables to improve diets of children and young women in East Africa

R.L. Roothaert, V. Afari-Sefa, P. Schreinemachers
Malnutrition caused by lack of micronutrients in the daily diets of people in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda is an urgent problem. In these countries, between 26 and 35% of young children are stunted, while between 69 and 73% of young children are anemic. Micronutrient undernutrition of pregnant women and young children has permanent negative effects on the physical and mental development of children. Many traditional vegetables in East Africa are very rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, parents are insufficiently aware of the causes and consequences of micronutrient malnutrition and may not be very much aware of the potential of traditional vegetables to address it. The Homegarden Scaling Project of the World Vegetable Center works with several partners to increase nutritional awareness, build capacity of target households to improve vegetable production skills, and improve availability of seeds, particularly of nutrient-rich traditional vegetables. A theory of change is presented that describes the causal linkages of the project's approach in East Africa and improved nutritional status of children and young women. The project uses mixed methods to test the validity of these linkages. The quantitative component involves the use of a randomized control trial to assess changes in cultivation practices of vegetables, and the effects thereof on consumption and dietary diversity that can be attributed to the project intervention. The qualitative method relies on participatory evaluation methods to assess vegetable preferences among men, women, and children. The results are used to fine-tune the intervention. Ongoing participatory evaluation also shapes the choice of traditional vegetable types to be included in seed kits distributed to beneficiaries. More adaptive research is needed on safe and effective pest and disease management strategies suitable in home garden settings.
Roothaert, R.L., Afari-Sefa, V. and Schreinemachers, P. (2020). Household gardening with traditional African vegetables to improve diets of children and young women in East Africa. Acta Hortic. 1267, 13-20
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2020.1267.3
home gardens, theory of change, consumption, seed kit business model, training

Acta Horticulturae