The Sindh Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Enhancement Project distributed and installed 10,100 kitchen gardening kits to beneficiaries that included 5,050 female headed households and 5,050 landless farmers in rural Sindh.
Data collected to monitor the health of women and children – after usage of fresh vegetables and fruits grown with the help of kitchen gardening kits – showed a significant decrease of 10 to 20 percent in reporting of cases of diseases in hospitals.
“The kitchen gardening (KG) kits were given in my name. It made me very happy. It also helped us with our savings. We are happy we get to eat fresh vegetables. We feed ourselves and can feed our neighbors too. We save a lot of money and spend it only on our necessities.” – Amna, a beneficiary of SIAPEP.
Amna runs a household of nine family members. For years, it was difficult for her to support her family with the limited resources that she had. The Sindh Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Enhancement Project provided her with the kitchen gardening kits, and her life has improved since then. She is better able to provide for her household and is able to save money too.
Prior to the SIAPEP project, families in rural areas of Sindh were using traditional methods to grow crops. They used flood irrigation systems to grow crops which resulted in inefficient use of water and low yield of crops. They were not making full use of home gardening and missing out on very good quality crops which could be grown in their homes with minimal effort. Moreover, traditional agricultural practices didn’t allow women to work alongside men to help provide for their families.
Supported by the International Development Association (or IDA, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest people), SIAPEP distributed and installed 10,100 kitchen gardening kits to beneficiaries that included 5,050 female headed households and 5,050 landless farmers in rural Sindh. These households now use drip irrigation systems instead of flood irrigation systems. The drip irrigation system not only saves tons of water but is also a lot easier to manage.
The kit includes a drip system for a 400 square feet plot for landless farmers and female breadwinners. The kitchen gardening kit also includes a pipe network for a 20×20 feet plot, a 200 litre drum, essential tools, seeds, and fertilizers for one year. With the help of these kits, farmers and their families can now cultivate sufficient vegetables for their household.
The project has provided a convenient way to store water. “SIAPEP provided us with water drums (kits). Now we can save water and that has benefited us a lot. Now we have ample water for every season be it rainy or hot weather. We can save our crops,” said Parri – a beneficiary.
Kitchen gardening activities have a particular focus on supporting women so they can grow food on the lands and gardens adjoining their houses. In addition, the Kitchen Garden initiative aims to supply richly nutritious food that can improve health outcomes for families, and ultimately boost human capital.
Impact on the diet and financial situation of beneficiary households
Stating the benefits of consuming organic food, Sana Khanzada, the social and gender specialist at the Project Implementation Unit for SIAPEP, added, “In rural areas, vegetable intake among women has increased which shows a good change overall. Women’s health is getting better day by day and the same positive change has been noticed among children as well. Diseases like diarrhea, cholera, upset stomach and others have decreased.”
During the survey, data was collected to monitor the health of women and children after usage of fresh vegetables and fruits grown with the help of KG kits. There was a significant decrease of 10 to 20 percent in reporting of cases of diseases in hospitals.
Beneficiary Aadhya said, “Prior to this, women used to buy vegetables from outside which were unhygienic and inorganic. This affected mother and children’s health.”
Pregnant women used to eat only chilies and dry bread for dinner. Poor nutrition can cause health problems for both mother and baby. By eating their homemade vegetables, mothers eat a more balanced diet, are less likely to get sick, and their babies are born healthier.
Parri affirmed that kids’ illnesses used to mean frequent visits to doctors. Their children are enjoying a much healthier life now. They are eating fresh vegetables, grown in kitchen gardens. It keeps them, as well as their children, in good health.
Along with the provision of healthy food, SIAPEP remarkably improved the financial condition of its beneficiaries. They have increased their incomes and savings over a short period of time.
“We earn money through selling excess vegetables to small vendors or shops. We utilize the money in other household expenses,” said Khair Bano, a satisfied beneficiary. She aspires to build a bright future for her children by spending her earnings on their education. She looks forward to having an improved lifestyle for her family.
Parri said that the project is “budget-friendly.” She further adds, “All the money we save is like a lottery. It will benefit us in the future.”
Contributions of kitchen gardening to mitigate COVID-19 impact
The project has directly contributed to mitigate the social and economic impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The acceleration of the work related to watercourse improvement, a part of the project’s improvement of water management in irrigated systems, has helped create temporary jobs. 50 percent of the employees in inter-culturing, fertilization, and irrigation were women. They were providing home gardening services to other households either for wages.
Peersun is a beneficiary who made the most of this project. He said, “Due to COVID-19, we didn’t have work or any means of traveling towards the city. We all were sitting idle at our homes. SIAPEP helped us. I, along with my wife, started growing vegetables on our tiny piece of land. We are happy with the results and people from nearby villages are glad too.”
Women empowerment by SIAPEP
A major target of operation of the SIAPEP project was to support underprivileged women in rural Sindh. This project has helped women contribute to raising the standard of living for their families.
Highlighting this, a beneficiary said, “In our culture men are the only breadwinners of their households. Now, we (women) are harvesting vegetables on our own and selling them. We are equally contributing to household expenses through our hard earnings and even saving for the future.”
The program has gained significant acceptance and appreciation recently. Sana Khanzada, who is the social and gender specialist of SIAPEP, received the Role Model Women Award 2021.
On this occasion, Sana Khanzada said, “This project brought a change in women’s daily lifestyles. Now they are involved in making decisions. Their self-confidence has been boosted up because of this intervention. This achievement is not only for me but for the entire SIAPEP team other partners who contributed to it.”
Other interventions of the project include community water infrastructure Improvement, promotion and installation of high efficiency irrigation systems, and support to the adoption of improved agriculture practices.