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Promoting Food Security in Gaza through Urban Gardens:

Source: CHF International - Mon, 21 Jan 2013 11:55 AM
Author: CHF International
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Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Global Communities is supporting households in Gaza by helping them to plant urban gardens to improve their food security. This initiative is being conducted under the Palestinian Community Assistance Program (PCAP) in partnership with Mercy Corps and USAID. The overall goal of PCAP is to support economic recovery and development in Gaza through the creation of income generation and business development opportunities. The agricultural component aims to help vulnerable households by providing urban garden and small livestock kits along with technical training and support to help these families become more food self-sufficient.

Food security is a major challenge in Gaza. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 44% of Gazans are food insecure.  International organizations have been by providing food aid, largely consisting of dry food, to families in Gaza for decades. Promoting urban gardens allows residents to supplement their diet with healthy, fresh food. It also provides families with a resource which can sold for cash or bartered for other needed goods. By providing urban garden kits, families are able to grow vegetables and fruits in their own backyard. While animal production kits allow families to take care of their own protein intake. In addition to distributing kits, Global Communities provided trainings to the families and regular extension visits to ensure that they know how to utilize and benefit from these agricultural kits. To date, 2,000 kits in various combinations have been distributed and are helping Gazans provide nutritious food to their children and themselves.

The program targets some of the most vulnerable families in Gaza. The criteria for receiving the kits included: families with at least one member with a disability, elderly people (60+ years of age), families with very low incomes, female-headed households and large families with high dependency ratios. Recipients of plant production kits received essential inputs to begin their gardens including water tanks, farming tools, summer and winter seeds, perennial and vegetable seedlings and compost. They also were provided with basic agricultural training that covered topics such as land preparation, irrigation systems, seedling care, plant protection, farm management and marketing of agricultural products.  The home egg production kits consist of egg-laying chickens, cages and fodder.

Saniora Al Dirawi, is a Gazan woman who helps support her household of nine family members with the food she produces in her urban garden. After her husband was no longer able to work, she applied to the program and learned new techniques, such as proper spacing,  composting, cultivation of better varieties of vegetables and the use of a drip irrigation system. “This home garden is the backbone of my ability to provide my children with fresh food,” she states proudly.

Through the Palestinian Community Assistance Program (PCAP), Global Communities is helping vulnerable households in Gaza to become more food self-sufficient by providing kits and training so that families can plant urban gardens.

Nour Attar working in his land in front of the container where he lives. The 23-year-old has high hopes that his urban garden will help improve his standard of living.

Nour Attar working in his garden.

Agricultural engineers educating potential beneficiaries.

A girl collecting eggs from her family's poultry production  unit in Gaza City.

Saniora Al Dirawi, who helps support her household of nine family members with the food she produces in her urban garden. “This home garden is the backbone of my ability to provide my children with fresh food.”

Saniora Al Dirawi working in the garden with her son. “Since we started, we cultivated so many kinds of vegetables:  eggplant, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, radishes, arugula, beans, chickpeas, peppers, potato, green onions and garlic.”

Saniora Al Dirawi cooking with beans that she harvested from her garden.

A garden plot planted with beans, peas, onions, parsley and radishes.

A home garden beneficiary in North Gaza harvests radishes from his land.

All photo credit: Global Communities/ CHF International

To find out more please visit Global Communities/ CHF International www.chfinternational.org/

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