Strengthening Vegetable Production and Consumption in a Kenyan Informal Settlement: A Feasibility and Preliminary Impact Assessment of a Sack Garden Intervention

Elsevier, Current Developments in Nutrition, Volume 6, 1 May 2022
Zivkovic A., Merchant E.V., Nyawir T., Hoffman D.J., Simon J.E., Downs S.
Background: Over 85% of Kibera's population, an informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya, is food insecure. Nutrition-sensitive agriculture interventions, such as sack gardens, have the potential to diversify diets - in turn, improving household food security and diet quality. Furthermore, the sale of extra vegetables may provide an income for program participants. Objectives: The aim of this paper was to conduct a feasibility assessment and preliminary impact assessment of a nutrition-sensitive urban agriculture intervention that used sack gardens for women in Kibera. Methods: Women, from a women's empowerment program, in Kibera (n = 36; n = 21 full program participants, n = 11 withdrawn, n = 4 new members) were engaged in a sack garden intervention in June 2018. A mixed-method approach was used to assess the feasibility and preliminary impact of the program. Qualitative semi-structured interviews (n = 25; n = 18 full program participants, n = 5 withdrawn, n = 2 new members), administered at the end of the pilot phase (March 2019), identified barriers and facilitators (e.g., preferences, inputs, group dynamics) to the production, consumption, and sale of self-produced vegetables. Quantitative surveys (n = 21 full program participants), administered in June 2018 and March 2019, were conducted to evaluate preliminary intervention impact on food security and diet quality through analysis of the Household Hunger Scale (HHS) and Minimum Dietary Diversity for Women (MDD-W). Results: Key barriers included insufficient inputs and group work difficulties, particularly around communication. Facilitators included positive intervention feedback, social bonds and teamwork, participants' self-sufficiency, and preference for sack garden vegetables over market vegetables. Post-intervention, participants reported reduced household food insecurity. Recommendations for program scale-up include investment in additional inputs, a water-collection/irrigation system, additional training, and placing sack gardens closer to women's homes to reduce time constraints. Conclusions: This study suggests that sack gardens may provide partial solutions to improve diet quality; however, further research is needed to assess any impact on household income.