* Sack - vegetables - Photo Recetas Mierdaeuristhuerto-en-saco.png

The ‘garden-in-a-sack’ concept to alleviate hunger and malnutrition

Photo credit: * Sack – vegetables – Photo Recetas Mierdaeuristhuerto-en-saco.png

Kenyans Attack Food Insecurity with Urban Farms and Sack Gardens

By Lisa Vives

* Sacks - Kibera, Kenya - Photo Avantgardens - 24631_623615430985555_2019559313_n_2.jpg
* Sacks – Kibera, Kenya – Photo Avantgardens – 24631_623615430985555_2019559313_n_2.jpg

In the midst of one of Africa’s largest slums, vegetables are growing.

It began as a French initiative to support jobless youth after a spasm of post-election violence in 2008 – and feed them at the same time.

The ‘garden-in-a-sack’ concept, introduced by the NGO Solidarites International, makes it possible to grow food in small spaces and save money for other purchases. In Mathare, Kiambiu and Kibera slums, with close to 3 million inhabitants, Solidarités has brought sack-gardening to about 22,109 households, directly benefitting over 110,000 people.

* Sacks - cabbage - Photo Pata Gonia - 309392_532589656760851_2003668906_n.jpg
* Sacks – cabbage – Photo Pata Gonia – 309392_532589656760851_2003668906_n.jpg

The upright urban farms in Kibera consist of a series of sacks filled with manure, soil and small stones that enable water to drain. From the tops and sides of these sacks, referred to as multi-story gardens, Kibera farmers grow kale, spinach, onions, tomatoes, vegetables and arrowroot which sprout from the tops and sides.

Today, Kibera has thousands of sack gardens spread across 16 villages in the slum, according to Douglas Kangi, principal agricultural officer on the Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture Project at the Ministry of Agriculture.

Across Africa, informal growing operations are expected to become critical in the coming years. With a constant stream of people leaving the farms for the cities, the continent’s urban population is set to top 700 million by 2030 up from 400 million today and 53 million in 1960, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

City farming, either in sacks or on small bits of land, has taken root in Cameroon, Malawi and Ghana with 25 to 50 percent of all city households said to be engaged in food cropping. In Malawi, 700,000 city dwellers have home gardens. In Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, some schools have their own gardening programmes.

Read the full text: IPS

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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