Assisting Communities in Creating Environmental and Nutritional Development (ACCEND) is a project funded by the European Union in Sri Lanka. One of its interventions is to improve the nutritional status of households in selected communities through the introduction of 1500 Nutrition Home Gardens (NHGs) in Matale, Monaragala, and Nuwara Eliya districts.
The project ensured that the NHGs established were (1) primarily to improve nutrition, (2) organic-based, (2) beneficiary-led (family-oriented), (3) of traditional varieties of crops as much as possible. The selected beneficiaries represented households with vulnerabilities which include undernourished children below the age of 5 and family members affected by or at risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD) / chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology (CKDu).
In addition to the seeds and the gardening tool kits, trainings on organic techniques such as preparation of organic fertilizer, pesticides, and compost were also provided for the beneficiaries through the project.
Accordingly, since 2018, a total of 200 NHGs belonging to 200 families were supported within the ten selected Grama Niladhari areas in Wilgamuwa Divisional Secretariat Division in the Matale district. By 2020, the beneficiary families showed remarkable success with flourishing NHGs accounting for over 90% of the total, with a more positive impact on the community, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, with the help of the independent researcher Mr. N.M.K.C Premarathne, the project conducted a field study on the NHGs within the 10 Grama Niladhari areas to determine the economic value of NHGs and contribution towards creating communities resilient to disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study’s results revealed that the community showed remarkable strength in facing the crises and maintaining their nutrition with economic security and sustenance through the NHGs. The study is one of the first of its kind to quantify the economic benefit of a home garden and through a cost-benefit analysis, it concluded that each home garden earned an average income of LKR 16,000 per month (an amount 3 times higher than the 2021 Official Poverty Line of Sri Lanka). Other findings were the positive contribution NHGs have had on gender equality, empowerment of women entrepreneurs, and environmental conservation.
The report will be launched for the general public on 26th of November at 4 PM through ADRA Sri Lanka’s Facebook page.