The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in collaboration with Childreach Tanzania has been supporting 10 schools to set up vegetable gardens in northern Tanzania. The Maasai people are traditionally cattle herders but these Massai children are showing they have green fingers and can really make their garden grow.
WFP, partner organisations and district authorities are running school gardening projects in selected schools in Karatu, Monduli and Simanjiro districts. The aim is to supplement the school meals provided by WFP with fresh food grown at the schools. At the same time, everyone in the communities learn some important lessons about nutrition.
“The vegetables that were planted in the backyard of our school grew in a month’s time,” says Yunus Idd, a sixth grader from Mapinduzi Primary School in Simanjiro district. “Today, we receive our meals along with vegetables like carrots and spinach. It tastes good and we’re always asking for more.”
Training on vegetable gardening is provided to parents, students and the school vegetable gardening committee’s to ensure sufficient yield. Participants learn a whole range of relevant skills: land preparation, planting, pesticide spraying, weeding, surface irrigation, harvesting, threshing, grain drying and storage. The vegetables planted in the school gardens include cabbage, carrots, eggplants, spinach, tomatoes and amaranth (a protein-packed grain that originated in Central America).
Almost all the children from this area come from Maasai families. The Maasai are pastoralists and do not traditionally engage in agriculture. As they travel in search of pastures and food, parents constantly struggle to feed their children. Children often go to school hungry and are unable to concentrate on their lessons.
“The project is of great success especially because children finally have an opportunity to eat vegetables a few time a week,” says Majuma T. Msangi, Head Principal Officer. “Some of the participants have started planting vegetables at home after the training sessions. Now, they not only consume the vegetables themselves but they also sell them in the local market and are able to earn a living.”
The project, which falls under WFP’s Food for Education (FFE) programme, started in August 2013.