How kitchen garden has promoted balanced diet, improved livelihoods in Kayonza

On 20 May 2021 at 12:43

Kitchen garden is one of Rwanda’s home grown solutions to prevent malnutrition and stunting. Residents of Nyamirama in Kayonza district are among Rwandans who have reaped big from embracing kitchen gardens which have helped them to improve dietary intake and generate regular income.

Sylvine Vuguziga is among mothers whose children suffered from malnutrition related diseases because she had no kitchen garden and lacked skills to prepare balanced diet.

“When you don’t have either a kitchen garden or money, it ends up cooking food without vegetables. This is what happened to me that my children were subjected to poor dietary intake until they suffered from malnutrition diseases,” she said.

Vuguziga was among other mothers with children suffering from malnutrition diseases taken to nearby health center from where they learnt how to build kitchen garden and were equipped with best cooking practices to feed children with balanced diet.

Since then, she has never run short of vegetables that she even makes reserve for the market.

Assia Murekatete is another mother whose child suffered from malnutrition. Through kitchen demonstrations where they are acquainted with best cooking practices at village level, Murekatete also learn to build a kitchen garden.

“The money I used to spend on vegetables is currently used to buy sardine fishes or fruits. With the kitchen garden at home, my child’s health conditions has improved for good and won’t suffer from malnutrition again,” she affirmed.

Nyirabunani Fatuma has also revealed that kitchen garden has helped her to prepare balanced diet because she crowds different crops rich in nutrients.

“I used to spend much on vegetables and ripening egg plants but I am currently used to eating fresh vegetables from my garden,” she said.

Apart from improved nutrition, Kayonza residents including Uwimbabazi have started generating income from vegetables grown in kitchen gardens.

“My kitchen garden is productive that I cannot consume all vegetables. To this end, I make reserve for the market and generate income used to cater for basic needs, children’s uniforms among others. For instance, I earn much from cassava leaves unlike the past when I would only earn Rwf 700, an amount that could not feed the family obtained from casual work ,” she noted.

Mukanyirigira Alphonsine also makes Rwf 2000 per week from vegetable sales to people who don’t have a kitchen garden.

These women share common understanding that building a kitchen garden does not require huge budget but rather commitment.

Kayonza district vice mayor for social affairs, Harerimana Jean Damasce has stressed that kitchen gardens have been very helpful to preparing balanced diet and reduced the number of children suffering from malnutrition.

“Apart from kitchen gardens, we have also embraced the Government’s policy of planting three fruit trees per household to complement existing efforts to prevent malnutrition. With these initiatives, malnutrition cases have considerably reduced compared to the previous five years,” she affirmed.

Harerimana explained that the Stunting Prevention and Reduction project (SPRP) has facilitated adoption through trainings to community health workers among others to prevent children’s stunting and malnutrition.

Today, Kayonza district registers 91, 000 households and over 70,000 kitchen gardens.

Mukanyirigira Alphonsine also generates Rwf 2000 per week from vegetable sales.
Kitchen garden has helped many households in Kayonza district to prevent stunting and malnutrition.