Indego Africa covers a lot of ground when it comes to training and empowering the women we work with – management advice, marketing savvy, African and U.S. business experience, and plenty of legal expertise. There's no doubt, however, that it would take us days and weeks to put together a best practices course on something like nutrition and agriculture. As we've done many times before, we sought out a partnership with the experts.
Gardens for Health International (“G4H”) is, by its own description, charged with “enabl[ing] people living with HIV/AIDS to improve their nutrition, health, and treatment adherence through sustainable agriculture.” In practice, this means (a) helping HIV+ individuals to form agricultural cooperatives, (b) investing in community and home gardens, (c) educating vulnerable households in nutrition and agricultural techniques, and (d) helping establish income-generating ventures. It's a worthy and innovative cause, which has led to G4H being recognized as an Echoing Green Finalist this year (Indego Africa was a semi-finalist in 2008).
G4H recently provided Cocoki with 2-3 days of free training from skilled agronomists on utilizing bio-intensive agricultural methods and planting highly nutritious staple foods, some of which were new to the women. Cocoki hopes to soon have its own community garden, tended by the women, with moringa trees and leafy greens – all grown with organic manure and pesticides. To get an idea of the nutritional impact: "For pregnant and breast-feeding women, moringa leaves and pods can do much to preserve the mother's health and pass on strength to the fetus or nursing child. One 100 g portion of leaves could provide a woman with over a third of her daily need of calcium and give her important quantities of iron, protein, copper, sulfur and B-vitamins." (read the full report).
We're hopeful that G4H-inspired community gardens will be a regular feature at all our cooperatives. More importantly, we expect to see major nutritional and health improvements.