Providing food security to families in Nicaragua through home gardens
In Latin America’s “dry corridor” the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified an already dire food insecurity crisis, leaving thousands of children and their families facing the very real threat of starvation. In Nicaragua, where 17 per cent of the population was already living with food insecurity prior to the pandemic, many of the children Compassion serves have been pushed into extreme poverty and hunger. Without help, their future is bleak.
Compassion’s church partners in Palaguina and Yalaguina, communities within the city of Somoto, were concerned about food insecurity among the children they are serving. Many caregivers in these communities lost their jobs because of the pandemic and were unable to provide their families with enough food. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Compassion Nicaragua has been responding to the crisis by supplying families in need with emergency food and hygiene supplies. At the same time, our partners knew that without more sustainable solutions, the food insecurity crisis would continue to threaten children’s well-being—and ultimately, and their future—long after the pandemic’s worst impacts had subsided.
Home gardens have already proven to be an extremely successful initiative as they not only help families gain food security but provide them with a sustainable source of income as they begin selling their produce. By helping 70 at-risk families start their own home gardens and small business ventures, our partners in Palaguina and Yalaguina hoped to support both food security and economic recovery in their communities.
With your support, we have launched a home garden initiative, which is helping 70 families from two Compassion centres in Palaguina and Yalaguina, Nicaragua. In February 2022, church pastors, centre directors, the local Compassion partnership facilitator and a Complementary Interventions specialist met via Zoom to discuss the objectives, schedule and budget of the intervention. Details of the local contribution and how to manage expense reporting were also discussed. In March 2022, church leaders met with caregivers from selected families to explain the schedule and expectations of this intervention, and each caregiver signed a letter of commitment.
Churches each began searching for professional agronomists to support the training aspect of this intervention; this proved to be challenging and took longer than expected. However, by July 2022 both churches had hired an agronomist and were able to proceed with the training. Attendance and participation at the workshops has been excellent. While the training is still in progress, caregivers have already learned a great deal, including how to prepare and cultivate soil and how to manage pests. Caregivers have also been preparing their plots of land for planting, and soil and pest sampling has been conducted by the agronomist. The main challenge is that they need to find good drainage solutions as they are currently in the rain season and the water is stagnating on some of the plots.
When families eventually harvest their first yield, it is expected that they will use 30 per cent for consumption at home, 60 per cent will be sold to earn income, and the remaining 10 per cent will be donated to the church for use at the Compassion centre so that other children in the community can benefit from nutritious meals.
Caregiver meeting and agriculture training: Church leaders and centre directors met with caregivers to explain the intervention schedule and expectations. Each caregiver signed a letter indicating their commitment to this initiative. Caregivers attended workshops with a professional agronomist. In the coming months they will also attend training sessions with a nutritionist and business specialist.
Home gardens: Caregivers were responsible for clearing their properties and preparing the land for their gardens. The agronomist carried out soil testing and pest sampling at each plot to ensure that the land was ready for planting.
Your Gift Provides...
Your generous gift is providing sustainable home gardens for 70 families facing food insecurity in Nicaragua, including:
● Tools and supplies:
○ Fertilizer, compost and seeds to grow squash, cucumber, chiltoma, tomato, beet, radish, onion and pepper
○ Shovels, wooden boards, watering cans, spray pumps, wire, etc.
● Technical assistance:
○ Training with an agronomist and follow-up visits for 6 months: site selection; design and planning; seedling; composting; transplanting and maintenance; soil preparation; pests; insecticides and natural fungicides; and production, harvest and seed conservation
○ Workshops with a nutrition specialist
○ Training with an income-generation specialist
○ Materials and snacks for training sessions
● Monitoring and evaluation
● Food and transportation
● Follow-up visits (transportation and meals)
ReportThank you for your generosity
A nutritious diet is essential to children’s holistic well-being, as it supports their physical and cognitive development, strengthens their immune system and improves their performance and attendance in school. With your generous support, we are ensuring that at least 70 families in Nicaragua’s dry corridor will have a sustainable source of both nutritious food and income, drastically improving their quality of life.
Caregivers are so thrilled and grateful for this life-changing opportunity, which has given them real hope during an incredibly difficult time. They are excited and eager to learn and to pass on their new knowledge and skills to their children; attendance at the education workshops has been 100 per cent. Karin, mother of Yeferson, says “I feel good, happy and glad to receive this help. With this project I will be able to give my son a better future because I will be able to generate income and my son will have a better diet.” While the full impact of this intervention is yet to unfold, these families are filled with hope, knowing that far better days lie ahead.
By empowering caregivers with knowledge and skills, we can help entire communities emerge from deeply entrenched patterns of poverty and food insecurity. As families harvest their yield and contribute a portion to their local church, other children and their families will be able to access nutritious food. Caregivers will pass on their knowledge to friends and neighbours, benefiting even more families and improving outcomes for children who otherwise would have had very little hope for the future. Your generous support of this initiative will change the future of generations to come. Thank you for showing Christ’s love and care to families in need!