Ethiopia: Urban gardens feed families

Vulnerable women are given the tools to feed their families and improve household income


Adina, 35, is a widowed mother of two, who lives in a heavily populated area in the middle of Ethiopia's capital city, Addis Ababa. Affected by HIV/AIDS and with limited education, Adina struggled to feed her family. She had no land and few resources to make a living.


Alongside local partners, USAID is supporting a program that provides vulnerable and HIV-affected women with the tools, land and knowledge to plant vegetable gardens to feed their families and sell the produce to increase household income. Adina and her family have benefited from the program, which trains women in nutrition, composting, vegetable growing, irrigation, proper hygiene and HIV/AIDS issues. USAID works with the local government to secure sites in the city to establish garden plots with reliable access to a water source. Workers with degrees in agriculture help the women plant seeds, care for seedlings, prepare and use compost and install and maintain the simple drip irrigation systems that feed the garden plants. USAID also provides the plastic tubs and drip irrigation tubes that eliminate the daily backbreaking work of carrying water to the rows of vegetables.


Adina spends at least an hour every day at her urban garden, checking the level of water in the plastic tub, weeding, harvesting some of the produce and ensuring the drip lines are adequately irrigating the rows of thriving green vegetables she planted two months ago. Adina and other urban gardeners are also making contact with local markets, where they can sell their excess produce and further build their household security. The program will eventually benefit over 3,000 families in Addis Ababa and another 1,500 in the northern Ethiopian city of Bahir Dar.