Tailored Assistance Increases Food Availability, Access, and Sales

SEADS Handbook Location: Chapter 6 (book p. 76, PDF p. 83)

In 2006, African Women Rising (AWR) launched a program to empower women displaced by the 20-year Lord’s Resistance Army war in northern Uganda. In 2017, AWR began to work in Palabek Refugee Settlement in Lamwo District, home to 50,000 displaced South Sudanese. A pioneer of permagardens in northern Uganda, AWR was funded by Cooperazione e Sviluppo Onlus (CESVI) and Trócaire to assist 4,500 South Sudanese households in establishing a kitchen garden to produce vegetables for home consumption and sale. The gardens used permaculture techniques on the 30 m 2 plots. The inputs received, aside from training, included fencing, seeds, seedlings, tools (including a treadle pump for water lifting), imported soil amendments, and intensive follow-up visits.

A participatory impact assessment in 2019 used natural resource mapping, personal histories, pair-wise food preferences, scoring and ranking of primary and secondary benefits, and transect walks to explore the main benefits of permagarden ownership. The impact assessment organized focus group discussions to assess outcomes and impacts and were attended by 450 people, including 320 women.

The primary perceived benefit of the program was an increase in food availability and access, resulting in reduced dependence on food aid and improved household nutrition. Increased household income from the sale of vegetables was perceived as a major secondary benefit. For households with permagardens, the sale of leafy green vegetables to neighbors and in local markets was the primary source of dry season household income. The training offered by AWR was also appreciated, and recipients reported a significant increase in in knowledge, skills, and a sense of well-being. In hard figures, ownership of a permagarden resulted in an almost 180% increase in the number of households eating three meals a day for at least part of the year and a corresponding 60% decrease in the number of households that consumed just one meal a day.

Personal histories collected in each of the focus groups confirmed high levels of trauma and that the work of AWR was greatly appreciated by the refugees for increasing levels of self-esteem and well-being, and for building resilience.

The impact assessment confirmed that AWR achieved significantly better livelihood outcomes when donors supported the delivery of larger input packages to recipients. These larger packages included fencing to protect growing vegetables from chickens and other livestock. The percentage of high-yielding permagardens rose from 36% to around 50%, while correspondingly the number of average-to-poor performing gardens fell from 40% to around 20%. As the project staff become more experienced, and when support packages are tailored to the local agro-ecology and different household capacities, these
figures can be expected to improve.

Cullis, A. (2020). An impact assessment of permagardens in Palabek Refugee Settlement, Northern Uganda. African Women Rising (AWR). https://www.fsnnetwork.org/resource/impact-assessment-permagardens-palabek-refugee-settlement-northern-uganda.