Healthy food, locally grown
In the 70 villages of the region where we are active, we want to create irrigated communal vegetable gardens. These not only provide, both in the rainy and the dry season, a necessary supplement to the diet of children and villagers, but also ensure sustainable local employment in Benin mini-enterprises.
The creation of these vegetable gardens is fully in line with our fight against malnutrition. According to the most recent statistics, about 35% of the children under the age of five are still chronically malnourished in the villages of that region. And this has less to do with the quantity of food than with its composition. All too often, it consists only of of yam or cassava. Fresh and healthy vegetables and fruits such as tomatoes, beans, cabbage and bananas are not or very rarely available in the remote villages.
The creation of communal vegetable gardens will help to overcome the shortage of fruit and vegetables. Irrigation systems will make it possible to plant and harvest all year round, even during the dry season. Each garden will be equipped with a water well, a solar-powered pump, an irrigation system and walls to retain rainwater.
In each village, about fifteen women will cultivate the garden in a cooperative model. They will grow and harvest for their own families and sell the surplus to other villagers. They will use part of the proceeds to maintain and, if necessary, repair the infrastructure. As a Foundation, we have experience with this way of working. The wells in the schools and villages are also managed cooperatively, with very good results.
Meanwhile, we continue our fight against malnutrition with screening campaigns, treating children who need it locally in the villages or referring them to medical centres or hospital for very severe cases of malnutrition. We also continue to raise awareness about healthy nutrition. Eric, the nutritionist of our Foundation, goes from village to village and teaches villagers how to make their meals more nutritious and healthy by including fruits and vegetables. Sidi and Moussa, our two agronomists, teach the villagers how to get more out of their gardening activities. All these efforts are paying off. In 2019, the first year of our screening activities, we found chronic malnutrition in 11.8% of children. The following year, in September, this had dropped to 3.2% of children. This reduction is due to the sustained efforts of our team in Benin.
Already thirteen vegetable gardens under construction
Thanks to subsidies from the Elisabeth and Amélie Fund, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation, the Province of Antwerp and the City of Mechelen, we can already establish thirteen irrigated community vegetable gardens in as many villages in the communes of N’Dali and Tchaourou!
The communal vegetable gardens must be ready by the start of the dry season, at the end of November 2021. Currently, the plots are being selected. In the villages of Boko and Gomez Kparou, the plots have already been selected and ceremoniously inaugurated during the working visit of our new ambassador Ismael Bako. He put the first spade in the ground were the wells will be dug. At the same time, we are in contact with several contractors to build the wells, pumps and irrigation systems. For each village, our team in Benin selects fifteen women who will take the garden under their wing. Our agronomist colleagues teach them how to use, maintain and manage the garden. The goal is and remains that after about two years, the gardens can be managed autonomouly by the local cooperatives. Our team in Benin will of course continue to support the women who work and manage the gardens with advice and assistance for as long as necessary.
Still 57 vegetable gardens to go!
We have already received grants and donations for thirteen gardens. We are systematically planning the 57 others. In 2022, we aim to realise another ten. And for that we will need a total of about 75,000 Euros. For part of that amount, we are counting on the proceeds of our annual Fundraising Challenge ‘A leg up for Benin’.
Participants in the challenge contribute financially to one of the following:
Even if you do not participate in the challenge, you can still make a financial contribution. Help the women by donating seeds or tools. Or by contributing to the construction of the well or the irrigation system.
Or you can always transfer an amount to the account number BE14 7865 8929 4683 of the Hubi & Vinciane Foundation with the mention “Community vegetable gardens“.
You will receive a tax certificate for donations from 40 euros.
For donations made in 2021, the tax reduction is 45%.
We would like to explicitly thank the Elisabeth and Amelie Fund, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation, the Province of Antwerp and the City of Mechelen for their funding. The gardens that can be established thanks to their support mean a world of difference for the villages.