USAID Ethiopia – Beyond Urban Gardens: Meeting the Growing Needs of Ethiopia’s Urban Population
November 16, 2009 Addis Ababa (U.S. Embassy): The United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Urban Gardens Program today launched a two-day conference called “Beyond Urban Gardens: Meeting the Growing Needs of Ethiopia’s Urban Population.” The conference highlights the challenges and the opportunities for urban gardening in combating HIV/AIDS and addressing food security, livelihoods, and health issues of urban populations in Ethiopia.
The USAID Urban Gardens Program for HIV-Affected Women and Children, funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), began in Ethiopia five years ago. Since October 2008, the program has helped more than 15,000 women and children and 5,000 households to generate income, adhere to AIDS treatment protocols, improve their nutrition and health, and boost their attendance at school.
The program operates in six cities — Adama, Addis Ababa, Awassa, Bahir Dar, Dessie, and Gondor. In these urban areas, the USAID Urban Gardens Program creates school and community gardens using water saving methods such as trickle and drip technologies. Where possible, the program also has promoted the cultivation of fruit trees and the raising of poultry. While supporting the development of urban gardens in Ethiopia, the USAID Urban Gardens Program also assists program participants through referrals to health services offered by government and community-based organizations.
In opening the conference, USAID/Ethiopia Mission Director Thomas H. Staal said, “Interventions like urban gardens give people hope. They give women and children the opportunity to improve their health and raise income for their families’ needs.”
More and more, people worldwide are planting urban gardens as populations in cities continue to grow and health and livelihood needs increase. First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama raised the profile of urban gardening recently when she invited a group of children to the White House in March to help her plant a vegetable garden on the White House grounds, the first such garden at the White House in 60 years. The Ethiopian Urban Agriculture Office used the conference to release its draft urban agriculture strategy.
As part of the “Beyond Urban Gardens” conference, Ethiopian youth involved in USAID Urban Gardens Program will share their experiences and best practices via digital video conference with teenagers from a high school in Detroit, Michigan, who also engage in urban agriculture.