According to the U.N. World Food Program (WFP), one in every four children in the world under the age of five is affected by undernutrition. Despite several scientific and policy interventions, undernutrition is still rampant in many developing countries. High living costs, limited employment opportunities, and poor access to healthy food contribute to undernutrition in many urban areas.
In an effort to combat undernutrition in Masaya, Nicaragua, Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD) volunteer Caroline White supported FSD’s community partner Masaya Without Borders Association (MASINFA) to launch the Urban Garden Project, which converts trash-filled lots within the confines of small urban neighborhoods into sustainable gardens. This community-driven, financially sustainable, environment-friendly solution helps local households produce their own vegetables and fruits to supplement their diet and combat undernutrition.
The project came about when a survey of the households showed a resounding interest in improving access to healthy food through affordable means. Before the Urban Garden Project, families estimated that they spent nearly 77 percent (22 cordobas) of their personal daily income (33 cordobas) on food – which translates to less than US$1 a day per person. On average, family members in the community ate a fruit or vegetable a little over four times per week. An additional factor preventing the community from prioritizing fresh produce in their diet was a lack of knowledge about nutrition and the importance of fruits and vegetables for health. FSD provided a grant of nearly US$800 to MASINFA, which facilitated education and training of residents in growing fruits and vegetables in their home gardens, which included workshops on nutrition and diet.
These urban gardens are self-sustaining. The harvest provides seeds, manure, and pesticides for the next cycle of planting and offers residents potential income generation opportunities. Empty soda bottles, plastic trash bags, used tires, leaky buckets, and old computer cases are “upcycled” to serve as pots for the urban gardens. Organic waste such as fruit peels and biodegradable food waste serve as the foundation for soil in the garden. Project participants and MASINFA are also trained to be able to disseminate the model among new communities. More than 40 households in the region now have access to avocados, mangos, peppers, tomatoes, and bananas, and more importantly, at an affordable cost.
FSD is proud to support sustainable community development initiatives in six countries and ten cities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.