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In Zimbabwe, one out of every three children suffers from chronic malnutrition, leading to high levels of stunting and poor cognitive development. Children in Zimbabwe suffer from malnutrition; families fail to meet basic food needs because of low incomes.
Low-productivity agricultural practices and lack of access to markets also affected the food security of most rural Zimbabweans, whose livelihoods depend on their own production. In the country’s rural, however, women are beginning to empower themselves to grow with the help from Action contre la Faim (ACF). They are now able to sell their own foods and prepare healthy, nutritious meals to improve the well-being of their families.
Action contre la Faim (ACF) and its partners Nutrition Action Zimbabwe (NAZ) and Africa AHEAD (AA) have increased households access to nutritious foods and change behaviors related to health and nutrition across Mwenezi and Chiredzi districts, in Masvingo Province. With our support, women have created low input gardens filled with spinach, carrots, peas, sugar beans, tomatoes, onion and other crops. They practice improved health and nutritional behavior to ensure their children will grow up healthy and strong. In total, 286 low input gardens were created in both Mwenezi and Chiredzi at household level.
Before the project, women in these communities were not familiar with other types of vegetables, they used to grow vegetables, which include spinach, covo, tomatoes and onions. The intervention introduced them to other vegetables like butternut, peas and green beans for a more diversified diet. Since the project began, women have seen significant improvements in their gardens, including increased access to nutritious foods and improved soil conservation. Our team conducted training on how to grow variety of vegetables and also provide the beneficiaries with water cans and hoes for the gardens.
Eddith Ngoro (52) a widow and a mother of five children from Chiredzi, is one of the project beneficiaries. “We didn’t know a lot of things before, especially on the importance of growing variety of vegetables which are nutritious. Now we have low input gardens and we are growing spinach, carrots, tomatoes and other vegetables. Our children eat better and healthy food now.”
Nutrition Action Zimbabwe (NAZ) trained Eddith Ngoro as Lead farmer of her village in Chiredzi. She now teaches other women in her community proper agricultural techniques. She previously faced challenges paying her children’s school fees, but now she uses the money earned from selling vegetables to help her children go to school. For the past 3 months, she has earned $76 from selling her vegetables. Eddith has also managed to buy household goods including blankets and warm clothes for her children using her proceeds from the garden.
"“Before the gardens, we only ate vegetables if we had the money to buy them from the market. Now we can get them from our gardens"
“Our community has changed a lot with the program,” said Rumbidzai Masotsha another project beneficiary and mother of four. She now has a low input garden with 9 different kinds of vegetables.
By integrating agriculture and nutrition, families can improve their agricultural production and dietary diversity to decrease rates of malnutrition among children. The project uses a unique community participation model of community health clubs that integrates health and nutrition teachings. Through this model, the lead farmers hold training sessions to teach communities on how Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) practices improve access to nutritious food, income and health outcomes such as reduced diarrhea outbreaks.
As a result of the project, women in Mwenezi and Chiredzi districts have recognized their value and potential as strong because they are able to support their families. In addition to learning new agriculture and nutrition practices, many community members attribute the success of gardens to a strong belief and confidence that positive change in their family’s overall health and income is possible.
“Before, we didn’t think we were any good or useful. Now we know that we have value. I was always shy to speak in public but now I am proud to talk and motivate other women on the importance of gardens and eating healthy food,” said Eddith.
*Project funded by USAID
The action aims to increase the resilience and reduce negative coping strategies for 21,000 most vulnerable people, improve access to adequate safe water, and reduce risk of water-borne diseases and increase access to sustainable and nutritious food sources as well as income to meet basic needs at household level.