Nile Hope implemented the kitchen gardens in Leer County as one of the ways of promoting behavior change feeding habits and to help households to diversifying their diets despite years of violence that have destroyed livelihoods and disenfranchised communities. What is possible with further support to local communities is now clear! Before preparing the gardens, Nile Hope engaged the FSL unit within the organization in Leer and Agriculture extension workers from the state ministry of Agriculture based in Leer at the time to support. The project manager and nutrition supervisors were trained together with the Nurses in each of the OTP centers and they in turn trained the mother support groups. There are 8 fully functional demonstration gardens and households were trained to set up their own at home. The endeavor has improved food security by providing variety of vegetables that can be consumed by mother support group families and to sell some for money which can then be used to acquire other materials that would otherwise be out of their reach.
The gardens were fully setup and maintained by the mother support groups and they continue to sell the produce for their own use. In December, each garden was able to produce vegetables worth 4000ssp a day 3-times a week from each of the gardens. Through sensitization, vegetable consumption is becoming a reality in Leer and most families are embracing it. The vegetable gardens were setup near the swamps for sustainability purposes. Mother support groups have full ownership of the farms and they are the change agents in their community. Apart from the seeds and other farm inputs that were sourced by the Nile Hope nutrition unit in Juba and intermittent mentoring, the whole project is being implemented by the mothers in the community under supervision from the Nile Hope nutrition team in Leer.
A local woman, Nyakandey Gatkoi in Tochriak shared her sentiments saying “I used to see my neighbor grow “Sukuma wiki” but I did not know the benefit of Sukuma wiki but now I know it’s good food at home. I initially thought it is Tobacco! When the team taught us about it, I also learnt how to cut it and prepare it so that it is served while still green. I thank Nile Hope team” she said. Nyakandey is a widow in Tharyier Village in Tochriak Boma, Thonyor Payam. She is 32 years old and has 4 children. 2 are under 5 years while the other 2 are 5 and 7 years respectively. In 2007, Nyakandey’s currently, 4 years old was admitted in Nile Hope OTP in then Thonyor OTP and later transitioned to the TSFP program in the same facility. She was a member of the women support group advancing behavior change communication for MIYCN in Tochriak in 2018 and believes Nile Hope and its partners UNICEF and WFP have done a lot for the people in Leer throughout but especially during the Famine response in 2017. Nyakandey hails the food demonstrations and the kitchen gardening campaigns because it has helped her to also setup her own garden where she has managed to get extra vegetables to sell in Tochriak market. Other women also shared their stories on how they have learnt to grow and prepare vegetables and further, how to combine different foods especially vegetables with Meat or Dry fish and eat it with Rice, kop or kisra.
MTMSGs in the market selling the vegetables and a purchasing customer. The Customer gives out the money while the woman gives out the vegetables. Both of them are feeling happy because they met their needs.