Resettled refugees grow food as part of the International Rescue Committee’s New Roots Program.
Refugees Grow Roots in the United States
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is a non-profit organization helping refugees rebuild their lives and livelihoods. Every year, the IRC works with thousands of displaced people, whose lives have been shattered by war and oppression, to find new homes, jobs, healthcare and educational opportunities in 24 cities in the United States. The IRC New Roots program provides newly resettled refugees with opportunities to grow food in community gardens and on urban farms. New Roots assists resettled refugees in finding land, supports participants to hone their food production skills, and is building marketing and food access opportunities in several communities around the country.
Aley Kent, an IRC National Technical Advisor for Food Security and Agriculture, and Elizabeth Moore, Farm Manager of the New Roots Farm in Charlottesville, Virginia, spoke with Food Tank about the important role of food production in the refugee resettlement process.
Food Tank (FT): How did the New Roots program begin?
Aley Kent (AK): Around 2005, a staff member working in the San Diego office was talking to some Somali women about options for them in the U.S. A lot of them did not have your typical job readiness skills that most employers look for in this country. However, the women were saying, “We want to farm! Is there a place that we can grow food? We want our kids to understand our roots. Can you help us do that? Maybe we can make money that way!” So, the idea of New Roots was born.
FT: How is New Roots an important piece of the resettlement process?
Engineer Taleb Brahim in one of the food producing gardens in the Sahrawi camps (Algeria)
Family gardens in refugee camps in the Sahara desert (S.W. Algeria)
Messages and photos published by Martin DEWHURST (UK) on Facebook
There are a number of remarkable things about these gardens … where they are in the Sahara desert, the dedication involved in establishing the gardens, the lack of available resources, the difference the fresh food makes to families living with a constant threat of malnourishment.
* 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 !
Still not convinced about the great value of this method to alleviate malnutrition and hunger ? Please, send us your better idea.
Drought has affected residents of the Mbera refugee camp, Mauritania, in the Sahel region of Africa.
Photo: WFP/Justin Smith
UN, partners seek $2 billion to help millions of people across Africa’s Sahel region
The United Nations and its partners today launched an appeal for nearly $2 billion to provide vital humanitarian assistance to millions of people in nine countries across Africa’s Sahel region.
Some 145 million people in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal live in a region that is constantly challenged by chronic food and malnutrition crises, and is vulnerable to climate change, droughts and unpredictable rainfall.
The Sahel humanitarian appeal for 2015, launched today in New York and totalling $1.96 billion, is part of a regional multi-year strategy to respond better to the chronic challenges in the region by emphasizing early intervention and forging closer partnerships with governments and development actors.
Over 20 million people in the region are short of food, 2.6 million of whom need life-saving food assistance now; and nearly six million children under the age of five are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2015.
Violent conflict and insecurity have worsened over the last 12 months in many of the countries. As a result, 2.8 million people have been uprooted from their homes, over one million more than this time last year.
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