From survival to victory !

 

PHOTO CREDIT: WVC – 2002-07-OUALIDIA – MOROCCO 22 copy.jpg

Local farmers discussing the results of a scientific experiment on enhancement of food production by application of the soil conditioner TerraCottem

SURVIVAL OR VICTORY GARDENS

By Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM – Ghent University, Belgium

In 2012 I read an article published by Dean FOSDICK in The Seattle Times, entitled: ‘Survival gardens’ can help save cash

Patches deliver high yields from small spaces and produce wholesome foods that store well

food-production-in-guatemala-photo-fincas-buenas-df74f7a7026b4f36e1d0173d27d84106
Food production by local farmers in small family gardens Guatemala – Photo Fincas Buenas – df74f7a7026b4f36e1d0173d27d84106.jpg

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I took note of the following important parts in this interesting article:

(1) Many cash-strapped families are turning to “survival gardens” to help dig out from the recession.

(2) ‘They were called ‘victory gardens’ during the world wars because they helped ease shortages, ‘…… ‘We call them ‘survival gardens’ now because they help families cut spending.’

(3) The term is part of a larger do-it-yourself trend toward growing more backyard veggies and eating locally grown food.

(4) Survival gardens are used mainly to raise the kind of produce that you can grow for less than what you would pay at a grocery store – …………..

(5) People new to gardening can get help from county extension offices, churches and community groups. Some offer training, others provide growing sites and a few distribute supplies — all for little or no charge.

(6) Survival gardens can do more than put fresh, nutritious food on the table, ……….  ‘Families have told us they sell some of their overage (from the starter kits) to pay bills and get medicines,’ ……….

(7) …………sells ‘survival seed’ packets, and said their sales have more than doubled in the past year. Each package contains 16 easy-to-grow heirloom vegetables, from beets to pole beans, cabbage to sweet corn. They come triple-wrapped in watertight plastic, designed to increase storage life.

(8) ………… gardening with seed is one way to save on food dollars, particularly if it’s the right kind of seed.

===========

The fact that more than 800 million people on this world are hungry or malnourished is generally attributed by the international media to the economic crisis (the food crisis), all those poor people supposed to be unable to afford the expensive food at the market. That’s probably why nowadays “Many cash-strapped families are turning to “survival gardens” to help dig out from the recession”.

During World Wars I and II, not the food prizes, but simply the lack of food caused huge hunger problems.  All the war-affected countries reacted on these emergencies in exactly the same way: by offering the hungry population small spaces or allotments for gardening.  Those allotment gardens or ‘victory gardens‘ helped ease the food shortages, people eating their locally grown food.  Do you know that most of those allotment gardens still exist all over the world and that millions of people still avoid malnutrition and hunger, producing fresh vegetables and fruits in their ‘victory garden’?  A success story, don’t you think?

I appreciate very much the term ‘survival gardens‘ used in this Seattle Times’ article, as these small patches really help families to cut spending by producing food in a cheaper way than the one at the market or the grocery store.

The applicability of this ‘survival garden strategy‘ at the global level is clearly shown (see above) by:

(5) People new to gardening can get help from county extension offices, churches and community groups. Some offer training, others provide growing sites and a few distribute supplies — all for little or no charge.

If county extension offices, churches and community groups can help these people, it should also be easy for international organizations and foundations to do this – all for little or no charge – for the 800 or more million hungry people of this world.

Let us keep in mind that ‘Survival gardens can do more than put fresh, nutritious food on the table, ...’, but that families can also enhance their annual income by taking their ‘overage’ of vegetables or fruits to the market, particularly in developing countries.

To offer a ‘survival or victory garden‘ to all the hungry families of this world, it’s such a noble task that no one can ever believe that aid organizations remain blind for the value of the experience of World Wars I and II, the extraordinary success of allotment gardens or ‘victory gardens’ to alleviate hunger and child malnutrition in times of crisis.

May the light come for hungry adults and undernourished children ….! From survival to victory !

Empowering families through food sufficiency at the household level

 

 

Mati City promotes home gardening in barangays

riser-vegetables-photo-jojo-rom-971622_10200263484728066_974390336_n
Riser with bottles in Jojo ROM’s garden in Davao City, The Philippines, producing enough vegetables and herbs for the family needs – * Riser – vegetables – Photo Jojo ROM – 971622_10200263484728066_974390336_n.jpg

DAVAO CITY- The City of Mati in Davao Oriental is advocating home gardening and nature farming with the establishment of green communities in the different barangays in the city. One aspect of the program is promoting urban container gardening among homeowners in the city.

riser-radish-and-carrot-photo-jojo-rom-215853_1728582652671_1181604134_31573102_4686613_n_2
Jojo ROM, an expert on container gardening in his own kitchen garden with risers in Davao City, Philippines) – * Riser – Radish and carrot – Photo Jojo ROM – 215853_1728582652671_1181604134_31573102_4686613_n_2.jpg

From January to May of this year, three homeowners association were chosen as pilot areas to undergo Urban Container Gardening (UCG) activity cycle 1. A total of 77 homeowners voluntarily enrolled to participate and 48 of them adopted the program marking a 62% success rate.

The homeowners association include Sambuokan Homeowners Association, Macambol Homeowners Association and Fatima Sudlom Home Farmers Association.

riser-for-massive-food-production-photo-almar-b-autida-10255663_10201730750126773_1525730629288922985_n
Self-sufficiency by home gardening in containers on risers – * Riser for massive food production – Photo Almar B. Autida – 10255663_10201730750126773_1525730629288922985_n.jpg

The urban container gardening is institutionalized thru the city mayor’s Executive Order 42 which establishes Green Communities with agri-based industry based components for youth, women and other organized associations adopting the 4H club and the rural improvement club strategies, creating the technical working group providing funds therefor.

riser-with-pond-photo-jojo-rom-154253_1533125726370_5655386_n
Riser with a fish pond underneath for irrigation of the contairs with water enriched by the fish – * Riser with pond – Photo Jojo ROM – 154253_1533125726370_5655386_n.jpg

Vice-Mayor Glenda Rabat-Gayta says that empowering families through food sufficiency in the household level is the main goal. The benefits of this simple gardening in the backyard are strengthening family relationships, incurring savings, income augmentation, entrepreneurial opportunities, promoting agri-tourism and solid waste management.

Read the full article: Philippine Information Agency

Time to teach them how to grow their own fresh food instead of keeping them dependent on food aid.

 

COMMENTS OF Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM (Ghent University-Belgium) ON

Nearly 385 million children live in extreme poverty – UNICEF

http://citifmonline.com/2016/10/08/nearly-385-million-children-live-in-extreme-poverty-unicef/

Today I read this interesting article on UNICEF’s alarming message about child poverty, in which I find :

“The report dubbed: “Ending Extreme Poverty: A Focus on Children revealed that in 2013, 19.5 per cent of children in developing countries were living in households that survived on an average of $1.90 a day or less per person, compared to just 9.2 per cent of adults.

It said globally, almost 385 million children are living in extreme poverty.

According to the report, children are disproportionately affected, as they make up around a third of the population studied.

…………………….

UNICEF and the World Bank Group are calling on governments to routinely measure child poverty at the national and sub-national levels and focus on children in national poverty reduction plans as part of efforts to end extreme poverty by 2030.”

Source: GNA”.

download19
Children are more than twice as likely as adults to live in extreme poverty, according to a new analysis from the World Bank Group and the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF). – http://citifmonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/download19.jpg

As a header of this remarkable text we find this scaring picture above, showing anxious children keeping up an empty plate: NOTHING TO EAT AND QUEUING FOR SOME FOOD.

Once again it shows that there is an urgent need to teach all schoolchildren in developing countries how to grow fresh food at home and at school (e.g. in a schoolgarden).

Of course, a lot of them need an urgent supply of nutritive meals.  That means that emergency programs are acceptable and very useful.

But it is not by sending loads of nutritive cookies (or other healthy meals) that one will change a single thing at this disastrous situation.  Yes, we will save starving children, but the 350 million children living in extreme poverty need more than a food aid meal a day.

We urgently have to change our food aid strategies to make them sustainable (see the new goals):

(1) Keep on going with emergency actions where needed;

(2) Set up educative programs to teach the children successful methods and simple techniques to grow their own daily rations of vitamins, micronutrients and mineral elements (fresh edible crops).

Impossible to believe that people concerned would not know a thing about the existence of these essential methods and techniques.  Since years they are fully described and illustrated.  It suffices to check some data (photos, texts, videos) on the internet, e.g. https://www.facebook.com/groups/221343224576801/.

Let us never forget that UNICEF itself has set up in 2005 a very successful program, called “Family Gardens for the Saharawis refugees in the S.W. of Algeria“, that unfortunately was stopped at the end of 2007 after showing that even in the Sahara desert families were (still are !) able to grow vegetables and herbs in their own garden.  The French would say: “Il faut le faire !”.

We keep looking forward for the global application of such a fresh food production program, using these basic, simple ways of growing food at home and at school.  That would be the real, sustainable food aid. “Il faut le vouloir !“.

FAMILY GARDENS IN ALGERIA – Part 1

 

VIDEO

 

Uploaded on Feb 8, 2011

The project “Family gardens in the Saharawis refugees camps of Tindouf, S.W. Algeria” has been very successful (2005-2007). Today, the refugees continue the construction of new gardens with the help of NGOs and individual sponsors. A series of videos will show that it is rather easy to offer to all the families in the camps the possibility to produce fresh food. (To be continued)

Just a reminder: The role of urban gardens, family gardens and school gardens.

 

My publication in January 2010:

https://containergardening.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/the-role-of-urban-gardens-family-gardens-and-school-gardens-willem-van-cotthem-irin-fao/

by Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem (Ghent University, Belgium)

The role of urban gardens, family gardens and school gardens (Willem Van Cotthem / IRIN / FAO)

For years we have been promoting family gardens (kitchen gardens) and school gardens, not to mention hospital gardens, in the debate on alleviation of hunger and poverty.  We have always insisted on the fact that development aid should concentrate on initiatives to boost food security through family gardens instead of food aid on which the recipients remain dependent. Since the nineties we have shown that community gardens in rural villages, family gardens in refugee camps and school gardens, where people and children grow their own produce, are better off than those who received food from aid organizations at regular intervals.

2007 – Family garden in Smara refugee camp (S.W. Algeria, Sahara desert), where people never before got local fresh food to eat

Locally produced fresh vegetables and fruits play a tremendously important role in the daily diet of all those hungry people in the drylands.  Take for instance the possibility of having a daily portion of vitamins within hand reach.  Imagine the effect of fresh food on malnutrition of the children.  Imagine the feelings of all those women having their own kitchen garden close to the house, with some classical vegetables and a couple of fruit trees.

No wonder that hundreds of publications indicate the success of allotment gardens in periods of food crisis.  See what happened during World War I and II, when so many  families were obliged to produce some food on a piece of land somewhere to stay alive.  In those difficult days allotment gardens were THE solution.  They still exist and become more and more appealing in times of food crisis.

2008-10-25 – Allotment gardens Slotenkouter (Ghent City, Belgium) at the end of the growing season

There was no surprise at all to read, since a few years that is, about a new movement in the cities : guerilla gardening.  Sure, different factors intervene in these urban initiatives, be it environmental factors (embellishing open spaces full of weeds in town) or social ones (poor people growing vegetables on small pieces of barren land in the cities).

Today, some delightful news was published by IRIN :”Liberia: Urban gardens to boost food security” :

“MONROVIA, 19 January 2010 (IRIN) – Farmers are turning to urban gardens as a way to boost food security in Liberia’s Montserrado County, where just one percent of residents grow their own produce today compared to 70 percent before the war.

………………

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is targeting 5,000 urban residents of Montserrado, Bomi, Grand Bassa, Bong and Margibi counties, to encourage them to start market gardens or increase the amount of fruit and vegetables they grow on their farms. Participants had to have access to tools and some land.  The aim is to improve food security and nutritional status while boosting incomes, said project coordinator Albert Kpassawah. Participants told IRIN they plant hot peppers, cabbage, calla, tomatoes, onions, beans and ground nuts. Health and nutrition experts in Liberia say increasing fruit, vegetables and protein in people’s diets is vital to reducing chronic malnutrition, which currently affects 45 percent of under-fives nationwide.

………………………..

FAO assists primarily by providing seeds and training in techniques such as conserving rainwater and composting. The organization does not provide fertilizer, insecticides or tools – a concern to some participants. “You cannot grow cabbage without insecticide. It doesn’t work,” Anthony Nackers told IRIN.  Vermin, insects and poor storage destroy 60 percent of Liberia’s annual harvest, according to FAO.  And many of the most vulnerable city-dwellers – those with no access to land – cannot participate at all, FAO’s Kpassawah pointed out. But he said he hopes the project’s benefits will spread beyond immediate participants, since all who take part are encouraged to pass on their training to relatives, neighbours and friends.  And there is ample scope to expand techniques learned from cities to rural areas, he pointed out. Just one-third of Liberia’s 660,000 fertile hectares are being cultivated, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

==================

Let us express our sincere hopes that FAO will soon be able to show to all aid organizations that sufficient food production can be secured by the population of any developing country.  What is possible in urban areas of Liberia can be duplicated in any other country.  What can be achieved in urban gardens, can also be done in rural family gardens.  Why should we continue to discuss the alarming problem of those vulnerable children suffering or even starving from chronic malnutrition, if  school gardens can be a good copy of the successful urban gardens in Liberia?

Don’t we underestimate the role container gardening can play in food production (seehttps://containergardening.wordpress.com) and the pleasure children can find in growing fruit trees and vegetables in plastic bottles.  Pure educational reality !

We count on FAO to take the lead : instead of spending billions on “permanent” food aid, year after year, it would be an unlimited return on investment if only a smaller part would be reserved to immediate needs in times of hunger catastrophes, but the major part spent at the world-wide creation of urban and rural family gardens.

We remain in FAO’s save hands. We wonder what keeps United Nations to envisage a “Global Programme for Food Security” based on the creation of kitchen gardens for the one billion daily hungry people who know that we have this solution in hand.  Let us spend more available resources on “Defense”, the one against hunger and poverty!

Planning a Sustainable Future

 

Photo credit: IFAD

With access to water and training, Priscilla began to plant maize, beans, peas and sweet potatoes to sell in local markets and also began to produce chickens and bees.

Water, Rural Livelihoods, Jobs and Food: Planning a Sustainable Future

In the north of Tanzania, Cecilia William used to depend on irregular rainfall to irrigate her crops. As a single mother, she struggled to grow enough to feed her family.

“Life was very difficult. I was not happy at all with the situation,” recalls William.

It was access to water – through an irrigation system installed by the Tanzanian government and supported by IFAD – that finally changed her life. With regular access to water, William became not only a successful farmer but also an innovative entrepreneur, starting her own construction business with the additional income.

“Before I was in total darkness. After I was getting an income, that is when things changed,” said William. “I started thinking about expansion, and a lot of plans came into my head.”

William’s story demonstrates just how essential water is for rural people, not just for their household use and drinking, but to sustain their main form of livelihood—agriculture.

It is estimated that 95 per cent of jobs in the agriculture and the inland fisheries sector are heavily dependent on water. Without access to water, smallholder farmers cannot afford to expand their farms and face the risk of losing their businesses.

This has major implications not only for them but for their communities and the cities that depend on them for food.

Read the full story: IFAD

Yardfarming

 

Photo credit: Treehugger

CC BY 2.0 Jennifer C

 

Yardfarmers follows 6 young Americans as they move back home to farm their parents’ yards

Derek Markham

by Derek Markham

So you think you can farm (your parents’ backyard)? An upcoming reality TV show plans to shine a light on yardfarming, with a twist.

Reality TV is so … predictably drama-filled and scripted. There, I said it. I don’t want to take anyone’s guilty pleasure away from them, so keep on keepin’ on, but consider tuning in to what might be the most interesting urban farming reality show ever (OK, so maybe it’s the only one, but still …) next spring.

Yardfarmers, which was created by Erik Assadourian, a senior fellow at the Worldwatch Institute and a sustainability researcher and writer, aims to follow six young Americans as they move back in with their parents to grow food in their parents’ yards and/or other neighborhood greenspaces. It’s an intriguing proposition, and one which may help to bring urban farming and backyard farming out from under the Portlandia hipster umbrella and put it back in the forefront of conversations about sustainability and food systems.

While the casting for the first season of Yardfarmers is now closed, applications for the 2017 season are still being accepted, with the short list of requirements consisting of affirmative answers to the following four questions:

  • Are you a young American between the ages of 21 and 30ish?
  • Do you live with your parents or would you consider moving back in with them?
  • Do you want to try to convert your parents’ lawn (and neighborhood greenspaces) into a workable yardfarm–one that can sustain you and your family either nutritionally or financially or both?
  • Do you want some guy with a camera following you around while you try to do this for nine months?!?

Here’s the trailer for Yardfarmers:

Read the full story: Treehugger

How to address the root causes of food insecurity and child malnutrition ?

Photo credit: MSF (Ricardo Garcia Vilanova)

Mothers feed their children therapeutic food at MSF’s outpatient therapeutic feeding center in Bokoro, Chad, where MSF teams are responding to a fourth malnutrition crisis in five years.

Is the food crisis for children still unfolding ?

By Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem

University of Ghent – Belgium

Drought and Desertification Consultant

http://desertification.wordpress.com

In December 2011, I posted some comments on a publication entitled “UNICEF CHIEF URGES ACTION TO STOP UNFOLDING CRISIS FOR CHILDREN IN THE SAHEL” (https://desertification.wordpress.com/2011/12/22/unicef-chief-urges-action-to-stop-unfolding-crisis-for-children-in-the-sahel-un-news/)

Today, I wonder if any changes in that situation have been registered.  Please read my former comments and today’s conclusions.

Which way would you go to stop an unfolding food crisis for children?

1997-12-02-General view 02 of a community garden in Niou (Burkina Faso) - (Photo WVC).
1997-12-02-General view 02 of a community garden in Niou (Burkina Faso) – (Photo WVC).

A food crisis can be stopped in different ways : with therapeutic food or with locally produced food. The former should certainly be used in cases of acute malnutrition, the latter needs to be more sustainable, e.g. by installing family gardens and school gardens. One can choose between expensive, curing emergency situations that don’t offer a sustainable solution and the much cheaper production of fresh food by the local people themselves.  What would you choose?

In the publication mentioned above, UNICEF’s Executive Director Anthony Lake “called today on the global community to take action to prevent one million children in the Sahel region of West and Central Africa from becoming severely malnourished.“  He said: “We must begin at once to fill the pipeline with life-sustaining supplies to the region before it is too late.” and “underscored the urgency to act before the ‘lean season’ when food runs out due to inadequate rain or poor harvests, which can start as early as March in some of the countries across the Sahelian belt.

I fully agree that UNICEF and its partners must be prepared to get sufficient amounts of ready-to-use therapeutic foods to treat severe acute malnutrition.  I also agree on “each child has the right to survive, to thrive and to contribute to their societies.

Indeed, “we must not fail them”!

However, the real question is if the best way of solving the problem of child malnutrition is getting sufficient therapeutic foods to intervene when the need increases.  Or, could it be that a well-prepared programme of vegetable and fruit production by the Sahelian families themselves is a better cure?

2007 - One of the family gardens in a refugee camp in S. W. Algeria (Photo WVC)
2007 – One of the family gardens in a refugee camp in S. W. Algeria (Photo WVC)

One may doubt about the feasibility of such a programme, but knowing that UNICEF itself was very successful with its own “Family gardens project for the Sahrawis families in the Sahara desert of Algeria“ (2005-2007), there can’t be any doubt anymore.  If family gardens, school gardens and hospital gardens can be productive in the Algerian desert, they can certainly be in the Sahel, where a better rainfall offers more chances to use the minimum of water needed (see the well-known best practices).

It should not be extremely difficult to accept that it is better to produce fresh food and fruits for the children in the threatened countries of the Sahel (like everywhere on this world!) than to have to spend billions of dollars at purchasing therapeutic foods for malnourished children.

Yes, “we must not fail them“, and we will surely not fail them by offering them chances to take care of their own kitchen gardens and school gardens.

1998-02-A school garden in Niamey (Niger) - (Photo WVC).
1998-02-A school garden in Niamey (Niger) – (Photo WVC).

In the drylands, there are already lots of successful small gardens.  One has the necessary knowledge and technical skills to duplicate these “best practices” wherever we want, even in the desert (see Algeria).  Who would still hesitate to take initiatives to gradually “submerge” the Sahel with small family gardens, school gardens and hospital gardens?  And let us not forget the successes booked at the global level with container and vertical gardening.

If there is “a pipeline to be filled”, it should not be filled with food, but with the necessary materials to create small kitchen gardens galore.

Shall we continue to appeal on “solidarity” for raising billions of dollars for responding time after time to the successive periods of food crisis in the drylands?  Or shall we, once and for all, spend a minor part of that money on enabling sustainable food production by the local people themselves?

Do we still have to confirm that we admire the nice work of UNICEF for children in real need? But, you Madame, you Sir, which way would you go?

——————-

Since the year 2011, a series of initiatives has been taken to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in the Sahel.  However, the food and nutrition situation is not significantly improved.

In March 2012, the World Food Programme published the article “The Malnutrition Threat in the Sahel(https://www.wfp.org/stories/nutrition-sahel-hunger-crisis-qa),

in which we read: “Recurrent food crises over the past decade have coincided with periods of widespread malnutrition among children. It’s a region where, even in non-emergency years, diets are undiversified and children often don’t receive necessary nutrients.”

In July 2012, we read an article of the Doctors without Borders (MSF): “Malnutrition in the Sahel: One million children treated, but what’s next ?(http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/news-stories/field-news/malnutrition-sahel-one-million-children-treated-whats-next), in which MSF nutrition experts Susan Shepherd and Stéphane Doyon discussed the need for long-term solutions to malnutrition in Africa’s Sahel region.

We notice that:

  1. One million severely malnourished children will be treated this year (2012)  in the countries of the Sahel, according to UNICEF. Every year, the region faces a hunger gap between June and October, depending on the country, a time period between the depletion of the previous year’s food stocks and the next harvest. Malnutrition rates always hover near warning level in this mostly desert region, but during the hunger gap, the number of cases spikes and hundreds of thousands of children become at risk of death. “
  • “One million children suffering from severe malnutrition will be treated this year by governments and aid organizations across the Sahel. How should we interpret this number? *Susan Shepherd: It’s both a failure and a success. The failure is that each year, countries within the Sahel will face recurrent, large-scale nutritional crises that are growing even worse in some countries. One million malnourished children—that’s an enormous figure. But the most important take away from this year is how all of the aid actors—governments, United Nations agencies, and NGOs—have managed the crisis. Because of this, the major success is that for the first time, one million malnourished children will be treated in the Sahel, and the vast majority of these one million children will recover.”
  • How can we break the cycle? * Stéphane Doyon: Today, the management of this nutritional crisis is done in emergency mode. When we speak of an emergency, we are mostly referring to humanitarian interventions. This is where we run into one of the major challenges to enacting true change: for governments, these models of humanitarian action are difficult to repeat and to sustain over the long term. Therefore, we have to break out of this emergency response model and start developing a longer-term approach. Another challenge lies in understanding what exactly malnutrition is: a medical problem, related to a lack of food that satisfies the particular needs of children. Countries which have successfully addressed the problem of childhood malnutrition include nutrition in health systems. Long-term solutions should therefore include medical responses; development, agriculture and treatment of malnutrition are all complementary.

Today, one can rightly ask: Where are those long-term solutions including development, agriculture and treatment of malnutrition ?  Is agriculture, including kitchen gardens and school gardens, really seen as a complementary component in the combat of malnutrition?

In May 2015, we read the Echo Factsheet “Sahel: Food and Nutrition Crisis” of the European Commission (Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection) – (http://ec.europa.eu/echo/files/aid/countries/factsheets/sahel_en.pdf):

Key messages  

The Sahel continues to face a food and nutrition crisis which is compounded by the erosion of people’s resilience due to the quick succession of the crises, the absence of social services on and the ramifications of conflicts in the region.  

As one of the largest contributors of humanitarian aid to the Sahel, the European Commission has assisted 1.7 million extremely food insecure people and 580 000 severely malnourished children in 2014.  

The food and nutrition prospects for 2015 have not significantly improved. The past year has seen average harvests and food prices remain high. ……………….

Emergency needs in the Sahel will persist unless the root causes of food insecurity and malnutrition are addressed and the resilience of the poorest people is strengthened. ……………..”

It becomes clear that food aid and nutritional programmes are necessary to tackle the emergent needs, but do not address the root causes.

If “in a region where, even in non-emergency years, diets are undiversified and children often don’t receive necessary nutrients” (WFP), we are tempted to think that creation of family gardens and school gardens will be a strong tool to address these root causes of food insecurity and child malnutrition.  If families and schools, and why not the hospitals, grow their own fresh food, using existing, successful techniques to limit irrigation water consumption, the malnourished people would get their daily ration of diversified healthy food, full of minerals and vitamins.

Let us imagine for a moment that the decision-makers can convince all the key players in the prevention and treatment of malnutrition to reach hands to enact a true change by combining the traditional programmes of offering nutritious rations to supplement the normal diet with a programme of offering ways and means to install a kitchen garden for every family, for every school, for every hospital.

Wouldn’t that be a long-term solution that tackles the root causes, a “break out of this emergency response model and start developing a longer-term approach.”?  

We believe it is !

It’s all about people, not about money and power

Photo credit: WVC

Local training in gardening techniques in the Sahara desert (refugee cam:p in S.W. Algeria) – Engineer Taleb Brahim teaching a woman and her children.

IFAD’S MESSAGE

Tomorrow 193 world leaders will come together to commit to 17 Sustainable Development Goals that could end extreme poverty and hunger by 2030.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. Three-quarters of the world’s poor people live in rural areas, and many don’t have enough food to eat. Nearly 800 million people go to bed hungry every night.

Make women and children your partners in progress - Photo Monique van Endert - 1997-12 Folder TCD (Photo MvE)
Make women and children your partners in progress – Photo Monique van Endert – 1997-12 Folder TCD (Photo MvE) – Training of women: Application of the soil conditioner TerraCottem in a community garden in Niou (Burkina Faso)

We want the world to know that rural people, when given the right tools and opportunities to thrive as smallholder farmers, are critical to ending poverty, feeding the world and protecting the planet.

Help us reach 500,000 people, on one day, with one message by signing up today to this Thunderclap.

Help us spread this message

For the last two weeks, we have been spreading the message online that investing in rural people is key to achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Tomorrow is the final day of the campaign, and we are almost halfway to our goal!

Help us spread the word today by simply clicking the red Facebook and Twitter buttons on the page in the link.

http://bit.ly/1it1d04

Your support makes a huge difference to our goal of reaching  thousands of people.  

On Friday, September 25th, we will flood the social channels with this powerful message:

Achieving the sustainable development goals means investing in rural people and building a better world for us all.

HOW TO SHOW YOUR SUPPORT:

Click the link (http://bit.ly/1it1d04) and support via Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr. Also, spread the word to your friends and followers to do the same.

At 3 pm CEST this Friday, we’ll speak with one voice.

Grow food on an A-riser or a H-riser to alleviate malnutrition

Photo credit: 

* Wooden Riser A-form – Photo Jojo ROM – 283225_4230820167045_1991451138_n.jpg

One of the best practices: The A-riser or the H-riser

By Willem Van Cotthem (University of Ghent, Belgium)

My good friend Jojo ROM (Davao City, The Philippines) is one of the famous experts on container gardening.  He was one of the first to construct in his own backyard an A-riser on which he grew (and still grows) vegetables and herbs in different types of containers.

It has been clearly shown that this is one of the best practices to grow vegetables and herbs in the smallest space.  As container gardening has many advantages over traditional gardening (mostly in bad soils !), this successful method deserves to be promoted at the global level, in particular in an environment with poor soils, e.g. in the drylands.

One of the applications to be strongly recommend is: construction of risers for the refugee camps, where people never have sufficient space or the necessary means to install a kitchen garden for their family.  Imagine the refugees’ joy being enabled to grow fresh food close to their tents: interesting time spending, being busy for a nice part of the day, and producing their own fresh food, herbs and mint for their tea.

Impossible you say ?  Have a look at the pictures below and convince yourself that minimal investment in risers loaded with containers will automatically yield a maximal food production.

You want to forget about the refugee camps ?  OK !  But please remain convinced that risers can be installed in small backyards and even on a flat roof, all over the world, also in your own neighbourhood.

Now then, enjoy the pictures !

* Wooden Riser - A-form - Photo Jojo ROM - 942231_10200263483608038_661084805_n
* Wooden Riser – A-form with bottles – Photo Jojo ROM – 942231_10200263483608038_661084805_n

* Riser - Bottles, Tetrapots - Photo Jojo ROM - 299197_2027431123696_1181604134_31907234_795222_n
* Riser – with bottles and tetrapots – Photo Jojo ROM – 299197_2027431123696_1181604134_31907234_795222_n

* Bamboo Riser with clay pots - Photo Victor S. Cabag (Philippines)  - 10422170_10201509648703265_4177847876384089747_n
* Bamboo Riser with clay pots – Photo Victor S. Cabag (Philippines) – 10422170_10201509648703265_4177847876384089747_n

* Riser with jugs - Photo Berlin ramos Sadler - 528880_3501510093823_1437046645_n
* Riser with jugs – Photo Berlin Ramos Sadler – 528880_3501510093823_1437046645_n

* Riser -with bottles, canisters and tetrapots - Photo Almar B. Autida430068_2870346474042_1121267916_32155811_1625702319_n
* Riser with bottles, canisters and tetrapots – Photo Almar B. Autida – 430068_2870346474042_1121267916_32155811_1625702319_n

* Riser - bottles and jugs - Photo Berlin Ramos Sadler - 549094_3575738549488_607260712_n
* Riser with bottles and jugs – Photo Berlin Ramos Sadler – 549094_3575738549488_607260712_n

* Riser with different containers - Photo Fe Mondejar - 66729_373215606134201_1286771557_n
* A simple riser with different containers – Photo Fe Mondejar – 66729_373215606134201_1286771557_n

*  An impressive riser for massive food production - Photo Almar B. Autida - 10255663_10201730750126773_1525730629288922985_n
* An impressive riser for massive food production – Photo Almar B. Autida – 10255663_10201730750126773_1525730629288922985_n

* Riser A-form with canisters and tetrapots - Photo Almar B. Autida - 578325_3062890287517_1121267916_32233687_1268465493_n
* Riser with canisters and tetrapots – Photo Almar B. Autida – 578325_3062890287517_1121267916_32233687_1268465493_n

* Riser with jugs - Photo Ako Si Arvin - 9999_363495210436408_1949884367_n
* Riser with jugs – Photo Ako Si Arvin – 9999_363495210436408_1949884367_n

* Riser - different containers with flowers - Photo Berlin Ramos Sadler - 538869_3628175340375_1965966353_n
* Riser – different containers with flowers – Photo Berlin Ramos Sadler – 538869_3628175340375_1965966353_n

* Riser - H-form -Photo Big Bug Creek Farm Store and Garden Center - 971804_565714960118122_175305211_n
* Riser – H-form – Photo Big Bug Creek Farm Store and Garden Center – 971804_565714960118122_175305211_n

* Philippinos constructing a metal riser - A-form - 12003284_1255229017836495_6671859800920701771_n
* Constructing a metal riser – A-form – in The Philippines -12003284_1255229017836495_6671859800920701771_n

 * Constructing a metal riser - A-form - in The Philippines -11218075_1255229134503150_2797106863206369602_n
* Constructing a metal riser – A-form – in The Philippines -11218075_1255229134503150_2797106863206369602_n

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Still not convinced about the great value of this method to alleviate malnutrition and hunger ?  Please, send us your better idea.

Back in 2010 : success stories of organic family gardening

Photo credit WVC P1000601 – 2007-01

Family garden in a refugee camp in S.W. Algeria

An invitation to 5 billion non-hungry people on earth

by Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem (University of Ghent, Belgium)

INTRODUCTION

Many people are looking for success stories of organic family gardening or farming in rural and in urban areas.

Don’t search anymore: here is a splendid testimony of the results booked in Argentina, in a number of other South American countries and in Haiti.

Haiti? Isn’t that the country where food aid was so badly needed after the earthquake? Well, read this little story carefully and get aware of the undeniable potentialities of local food production for all these families, since 2005 being enabled to cover some or even most of their food needs thanks to a remarkable programme for self-production of fresh food, already launched in 1990 in Argentina under the name Pro-Huerta.

For me, a breathtaking reading of this interesting publication lies in the sequencing of a number of quotes of the original text.  They are listed below.

School garden in Gambia - Photo credit: Hélène CLYBOUW - 2011_1210december3Gambia20110149
School garden in Gambia – Photo credit: Hélène CLYBOUW – 2011_1210december3Gambia20110149

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The original heartwarming article, of which an excerpt was reposted by Michael Levenston on the City Farmer News (New Stories From ‘Urban Agriculture Notes’):

http://www.cityfarmer.info/2010/11/02/organic-gardens-feeding-people-from-argentina-to-haiti/

has been published by Jane Regan and Marcela Valente on the IPS-website on Oct. 22, 2010:

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=53257

Family garden in Guatemala - Photo credit : 2014-12-28 Photo Jay Jackson, Guatemala) - 1979727_10152718304357923_1216222789_n
Family garden in Guatemala – Photo credit : 2014-12-28 Photo Jay Jackson, Guatemala) – 1979727_10152718304357923_1216222789_n (vertical gardening in bottle towers.

Organic Gardens Feeding People from Argentina to Haiti

Here is my selection of quotes:

Neither hurricanes nor floods, nor an earthquake, nor political instability managed to wipe out the organic gardening initiative, called Pro-Huerta (Pro-Garden), Programme d’Autoproduction d’Aliments Frais (“Self-Sufficient Fresh Vegetable Programme”) or “ti jaden òganik” (Creole for “small organic garden”), underway in Haiti since 2005.

The aim of the programme is to promote organic gardens in both cities and rural areas.

After the earthquake, some families had their own garden production to fall back on and cover some of their food needs.

Some families told us they were glad they didn’t have to stand in line all the time to suffer the humiliation of asking for food.

Emerged in 1990, the programme has now in Argentina 630,000 gardens and farms distributed in 3,500 urban and rural settings. The model has also been replicated in other countries of the region, including Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala and Venezuela.

There are all sorts of initiatives all over the region, which either replicate the model or take some elements from it, and there’s also an international course to provide training in other countries.

The Haitian experience has been particularly successful because a great deal has been achieved without considerable inputs or efforts.

With a 100-metre garden a family can grow enough food to cover its needs, but a space half that size is also good. And community or church plots can be used too.

These organic gardens are also sprouting in schools, prisons, community soup kitchens and senior citizen groups.

Food is mostly grown for personal consumption, but trade networks have also emerged. This is agro-ecological production: no chemicals are used, pest control is done naturally and the soil is allowed to recover through crop rotation.

In Haiti, where some 2.4 million of the country’s nine million people are considered “food insecure” and half the food consumed in the country is imported, these small gardens are making a difference.

Pro-Huerta is probably the most successful example of South-South cooperation.

Families in Haiti have been trained to produce their own seeds, good seeds. This is an important step towards assuring food security and food sovereignty.

Seeds are a flashpoint issue in Haiti. Following the earthquake, the agro-industrial giant Monsanto donated four million dollars worth of hybrid maize and vegetable seeds to the government, sparking outcries and protests, including the burning of mounds of seeds. As it turned out, the seeds were not really donated but offered to farmers for a fee.

With programs like Pro-Huerta, Haitian farmers are helped to improve their own seeds, their nutrition and their economic situation, all at the same time.

School garden in Niamey (Niger) - Photo credit WVC 1998-02-école-07
School garden in Niamey (Niger) – Photo credit WVC 1998-02-école-07

This fantastic programme deserves to be applied at the global scale. It is the crux of the matter in the combat of hunger and malnutrition.

Families, schools, communities, allotments, hospitals, churches, youth associations, senior citizen groups, sports clubs, prisons, …

Let’s start with the poorest and most vulnerable families. Let’s start doing it for all those malnourished children. 

Please, stop the discussion about the price of providing quality nutrition to children and the problems of transport and distribution of food aid. Give these poor families, and in particular the mothers, a chance to put a first step forward towards self-sufficiency.

It is a real honour for me to invite today 5 billion non-hungry people on earth to convince the decision makers to enable such an appealing food aid programme.

Let’s join our hands.  Let’s join our hearts.

Willem Van Cotthem

Who says funding is the problem ? Give them family kitchen gardens, it’s about time !

Photo credit: UN News Centre

Children play outside their tents in the Protection of Civilians site in Bor, capital of Jonglei State in South Sudan. Photo: UNICEF/Kate Holt

UN agency urges more funding to boost humanitarian aid to children in Sudan

Citing efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to children in Sudan who are affected by the war in South Sudan, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) stressed the huge demand and urgency of receiving more financial support to continue its relief work in the Country.

“We cannot make these boys and girls suffer even more by failing to provide timely, quality…humanitarian assistance and protection,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Representative to Sudan, stressing that “children are the main victims of the intensification of conflict in South Sudan.”

Representing over 60 per cent of the South Sudanese refugees, as well as over 60 per cent of the Sudanese returnees, children “have suffered from exposure to a brutal war which has uprooted them from their homes and separated them from their familiar environment.” Mr. Cappelaere warned.

While efforts have been made by UNICEF and its partners to support the Government of Sudan with lifesaving services such as water and sanitation, treatment of malnutrition, and immunization, the gaps remain critical as funds are available only until the end of the month for these multiple and urgent needs.

The high demand for education is another concern that strains the existing facilities for children sharing schools in refugee camps.

Further, the acute needs of children in Sudan go far beyond the impact of the South Sudan crisis. Over 3.2 million children require humanitarian assistance.

Unfortunately, the funding received covers only 16% of the $117 million required and will run out by the end of June.

Therefore, the UN children’s agency is calling upon the international donors to increase urgently its funding to help provide protection, education and a healthy life for the most vulnerable children in Sudan.

The agency is also calling on the Government of Sudan and non-governmental partners to guarantee an enabling environment for reaching all those children most in need with timely and sufficient services.

Read the full article: UN News Centre

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