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Household gardens = Sustainable impact?

Do household gardens offer a long-term, ongoing solution to undernutrition? A study to analyze if the initial impact of a household garden intervention in 2012-2013 has been sustained is underway.

There is growing interest in the potential of household garden interventions to address micronutrient undernutrition in low income countries, but evidence is lacking for the sustainable impact of such interventions. From 2011 to 2015, the World Vegetable Center and its local NGO partners, BRAC and Proshika, trained more than 10,000 poor rural women in southern Bangladesh in household gardening and nutrition within a USAID-funded project. A random sample of 677 women was surveyed in 2012 before they received project support and again in 2013 after 425 women of this group received training and small packets of vegetable seed. This initial study showed that beneficiary households increased their household vegetable production by 31 kg/year, most of which was due to an increase in nutrient-dense leafy vegetables. Household vegetable consumption also increased significantly.

The World Vegetable Center has now teamed up with the Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ) in Germany to analyze whether the initial impact has been sustained, and more importantly, as Tilman Brück, IGZ Team Leader – Development Economics explains, “to identify which factors are associated with relative success, or failure, in managing a household garden.” The World Vegetable Center and IGZ together with local research partner the Grameen Bikash Foundation (GBF) conducted a workshop in Jessore, Bangladesh from 25-29 April 2016 to prepare for the follow-up study and to train the team of enumerators. “The results of this study will be very important to improve household garden project designs, in Bangladesh as well as elsewhere, by addressing the specific challenges that women gardeners are facing,” said Pepijn Schreinemachers, AVRDC Lead Specialist – Impact Evaluation.

The current study will provide a unique data set of the performance of household gardens at three points in time, and allow spatial analysis as the geographical coordinates will now also be recorded. First results of the study are expected in early 2017.

The international research team and GBF enumerators at the project workshop in Jessore, Bangladesh, 29 April 2016. Ghassan Baliki (IGZ, 2nd from left), Tilman Brück (IGZ, 6th from left), Nasir Uddin (Director GBF, 9th from left), Razu Ahmed (AVRDC Country Representative, 3rd from right) and Pepijn Schreinemachers (AVRDC, 6th from right).

The international research team and GBF enumerators at the project workshop in Jessore, Bangladesh, 29 April 2016. Ghassan Baliki (IGZ, 2nd from left), Tilman Brück (IGZ, 6th from left), Nasir Uddin (Director GBF, 9th from left), Razu Ahmed (AVRDC Country Representative, 3rd from right) and Pepijn Schreinemachers (AVRDC, 6th from right).


Story and photos: Pepijn Schreinemachers

A GBF enumerator testing the questionnaire with a woman household gardener in Jessore, Bangladesh.

A GBF enumerator testing the questionnaire with a woman household gardener in Jessore, Bangladesh.