Posts Tagged ‘HIV’


Innovation of the Month: Gardens for Health

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By Carly Chaapel

Around the world, gardens provide food for local communities, serve as educational tools, and empower the poor. In sub-Saharan Africa, where 22.5 million people live with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), humanitarian and environmental organizations are turning to community gardens for nutritional and social benefits for HIV patients.

Rwandan farmer harvests plants for her family with the help of Gardens for Health. (Photo credit: Gardens for Health International)

In Rwanda, the most densely populated sub-Saharan country, the average citizen lives well below global average health, education, and income standards. The Human Development Index ranks Rwanda 166 out of 187 countries, indicating “low human development.” According to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), nearly 170,000 people (3 percent of adults) suffer from HIV in Rwanda.

Numerous organizations are, however, generating hope for the poor and the sick in Rwanda. Gardens for Health International, for example, partners with local health clinics to provide agricultural solutions for health problems, including malnutrition. Patients who arrive at rural clinics in need of food aid and emergency treatment often leave with the resources necessary to both address their immediate needs and sustain themselves and their families in the future. Gardens for Health experts routinely visit families in their homes, bringing the tools and knowledge needed (e.g., seedlings and market access knowledge) to increase yields, diversify diets, and prevent future malnutrition.

In Swaziland, the International Red Cross has donated money to support community gardens with similar goals. According to USAID, 25.9 percent of adults in Swaziland live with HIV, and nearly 70,000 children have been orphaned due to the virus. Although food crises are prevalent in this drought-prone country, donations from the Red Cross have enabled communities to both develop food gardens and access valuable adaptation technology, such as drip irrigation, which can increase agricultural productivity and boost year-round food security for families living with HIV.

By disseminating resources and information, organizations such as Gardens for Health and the International Red Cross can increase access to healthy foods for the poor, hungry, and sick, and enable families to develop productive and sustainable food gardens just outside their front doors.

Do you know about a garden that is used as a healing space for the sick? Tell us more in the comments below.

Carly Chaapel is a former research intern with the Worldwatch Institute’s Food and Agriculture Program.


A Home of Love: An Interview with Patrick Odoyo

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By Ronica Lu

Organic farming work being done on the Dago Dala Hera orphanage property.
(Photo Credit: Patrick Odoyo)

Name: Patrick Odoyo

Affiliation: Program Coordinator, Dago Dala Hera Orphanage of Kenya

Biography: Patrick Odoyo is the program director and coordinator for Dago Dala Hera Orphanage in Dago Kaminasuo, Kenya, a children’s center and home offering the services of education, skills training, and room and board for children affected with HIV/AIDS. He is also a guest lecturer on African studies and his life experiences at the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation and the University of Michigan.

What are the day-to-day operations like at Dago Dala Hera?

There are 114 children who attend the day school at the orphanage and 36 girls who permanently reside there during the day and night. The day is a mixture of residential activities centered on the main component of education and schooling for the children.

How successful have your fundraising events in the U.S. been?

Fundraising in the U.S. has been difficult but we have been active in organizing church meetings and creative fundraisers. Due to donor fatigue and the fact that we are not yet a 501k organization, it has been difficult to get people to donate. But our soccer tournament has been very successful—it started in 2008 from the planning efforts of village volunteers. The annual Kick it with Kenya soccer tournament held in rural villages all across Western Kenya, brings vital public health education on HIV/AIDS to its youth, and earns proceeds that benefit the orphanage operations.

How does intensive organic farming benefit the Dago Dala Hera?

Through organic farming we teach ways in which students can be self-sustaining. Planting Moringa trees benefits residents because the trees provide immense medicinal and nutritional value in addition to water purification properties the seeds provide. Our vegetable nurseries provide nutrition and nourishment while at the same time saving the residents money. Instead of buying produce from vendors or the market, residents of the orphanage can grow them out of their small garden, sell the excess, and make money at the same time. The money is also used to pay for their schooling beyond the 8th grade, which comes at a fee for children in Kenya.



Part 10: Where Would You Like to See More Agricultural Funding Directed?

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Each day we are posting three of your responses to the question: Where Would You Like to See More Agricultural Funding Directed?

(Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

1. Mary Shawa, Secretary For Nutrition, HIV and AIDS , Malawi

“I would like more funding in high nutritive value foods for a nutritious diet, post harvest storage, value adding and livestock production.”

2. Wayne S. Teel, Department of Integrated Science and Technology at James Madison University , USA

“Funding agriculture especially at the local level is both difficult and needed.  The difficulty is that misdirected funding often does far more harm than good, and one location’s appropriate development is another area’s waste.  For me the key is identifying the limiting factors in agriculture in an area, then aiming the funding at that limiting factor.  For example, in Machakos and Kitui in Kenya the first key was/is water supply.  Once that factor is addressed, soil conservation and tree planting follow, then you can move onto market development.  In the flatter regions of northern Mozambique, around Nampula, the issue was soil fertility – increasing organic matter in the soil, so I would target development money there on that problem.  No two areas will be exactly alike, so one has to target the area based on a solid local understanding of the limiting factors that local people identify themselves.”

3. Bell Okello, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW),  Kenya says:

“I would like to start by recognizing the need to invest in women farmers – to improve their access to essential factors of production, to improve their access to critical farm inputs, to enhance their role and visibility in the value chain including farmers organizations, to enhance their presence in the output markets so that they can get incomes for their produce, information for high quality value production, to enable women participate in high end horticultural production -processing-marketing. In doing these investments, there is the need to ensure men, who are important members of their households understand and institutionalize the different roles both play in household food security and livelihoods – that men are not disenfranchised to the point of fighting instead of embracing contributions by women, that men feel encouraged and secure in working with and not fighting the women farmers, that men can give some of the space they so dominate to the women farmers and agro-business women.

On the other hand, it is important that the other factors critical for the success of agriculture are in place! Infrastructure, affordable quality inputs, access to credit, functioning markets, access to agricultural technology are critical (here, research and dissemination of these technologies to farmers is critical). For me, it is a package, not one single thing. Any investment in a single sector will not be a solution. More important, and given the diversity and complexity of constraints that farmers  face, especially women farmers, we may have to start from analyzing the root causes of the said constraints, then working up the problem tree in order to select the priority areas that will give the greatest returns in the short, medium and long term.”

Read other responses:

Part 1 : Dave Andrews (USA), Dave Johnstone (Cameroon), & Pierre Castagnoli (Italy).
Part 2 : Paul Sinandja (Togo), Dov Pasternak (Niger), & Pascal Pulvery (France).
Part 3: Christine McCulloch (UK), Hans R Herren (VA), & Amadou Niang (Mali).
Part 4: Michel Koos (Netherlands), Don Seville (USA), & Ron Gretlarson.
Part 5 Shahul Salim, Roger Leakey (Kenya), & Monty P Jones (Ghana).
Part 6Calestous Juma (USA), Ray Anderson (USA), & Rob Munro (Zambia).
Part 7Tom Philpott (USA),  Grace Mwaura, & Thangavelu Vasantha Kumaran.
Part 8: Peter Mietzner (Namibia), Madyo Couto (Mozambique), & Norman Thomas Uphoff (USA)
Part 9: Tilahun Amede (Ethiopia), Shree kumar Maharjan (Nepal), & Ashwani Vasishth (USA)

What is your answer? Email me at or tweet your response to @WorldWatchAg


Nourishing the Planet on Medical News Today

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Check out this article on Medical News Today on the need for global collaboration in order to improve sanitation, health and HIV prevention in the developing world. Nourishing the Planet’s recently published op-ed in the New Jersey Star-Ledger is quoted on how small organizations can work together to overcome the sanitation challenges faced by the one billion people living in urban slums.


Highlights from the Photo Contest

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(Photo: Julie Carney from Gardens for Health International)

It’s been two weeks since we asked you to share your original photo submissions of innovative farming activities in sub-Saharan Africa for our upcoming publication, State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet. Your responses are still coming in. We’re excited to start a regular series to share with you some of our favorites so far and encourage you to continue submitting your photos.

Today we are featuring some highlights sent by Julie Carney from Gardens for Health International, an organization in Rwanda that works with communities living with HIV/AIDS, helping them gain access to land, credit, community gardens, seeds and nutritional education in order to improve food security and health.

Please e-mail your submissions to We will include as many as possible in the book, highlighting innovations across Africa that are helping to alleviate hunger and poverty in a sustainable way.

We will review all of your photo submissions, but ideally the resolution should be 300 dpi, so that means the file should be around 2175 pixels by 3000 pixels.

Get the flash player here: