In Nakivale refugee settlement, families depend on kitchen gardens to beat malnutrition
The stunting rate in refugee settlements is usually high owing to high fertility rates, land shortage and poor diets.
Steven Segujja, a nutrition officer with Medical Teams International (MTI) based at Nakivale health centre 111 says, given that families receive small pieces of land, they help them to set up kitchen gardens under the Optimized Land Use Model (OLUM).
The model focuses on helping refugees to optimize the land they have to grow high nutritious foods like vegetables, orange sweet potatoes and iron-rich beans to diversify the diet of the entire household.
Additionally, Charles Kaana, a focal nutritionist with Medical teams based at Juru health centre 111 (Sub base camp) says, he distributes seedlings to families and trains them to grow vegetables to reduce malnutrition.
He works with fathers who help to establish the gardens using recycled materials like plastic water bottles, sacks and jerry cans. They also help to maintain the gardens.
One such father is Anatoli Macumu, a resident of Rubondo A village.
He identifies families with malnourished children and helps them to grow nutritious foods and vegetables in small spaces at home.
He says promoting kitchen gardening enables families to have diversified diets. It also helps babies to have optimal supplementary feeding after exclusive breastfeeding.
Nakivale refugee settlement was established in 1958 making it the oldest refugee settlement in Africa. It is located near the Tanzania border in Isingiro district.
It has over 80 villages with three subzones including; Rubondo, Juru and Base camp.
There are over 140,000 refugees from Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Iran.
A kitchen or vegetable garden is a home space where the family grows culinary herbs, leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits for everyday use inside the kitchen.