South Sudanese refugees in Adjumani start growing vegetables in their backyard for a balanced diet

Living on a limited 30 x 30 meter plot provided by the government of Uganda, South Sudanese refugees in Adjumani district set out in their less-expensive backyard to grow vegetables for a balanced diet.

The refugees, in coordination with the government and relief agencies, demarcated their housing of 30-30 meters into two parts, 33% are used to build huts, a toilet and a complex, and the remaining 67% is for backyard farming. The arrangement is under the Optimal Land Use Model (OLUM).

In Buruli refugee camp in Bakili sub-county, Adjumani district, Vicki Andrew, a refugee from Nimule in South Sudan’s Equatorial Region, told ChimpReports that the dry ration regularly received from the government and agencies needs to be supplemented with other nutritional foods.

“We always get beans (rich in protein) and buchu (cornmeal that is rich in carbohydrates) and we lack things like vegetables that are rich in vitamins,” Andrew said.

“We also need things like sukuma wiki (green cabbage), peas, tomatoes, eggplant, etc. to get vitamins,” he added.

To overcome the drought, usually between November and February, an underground water reservoir is constructed to hold rainwater during the rainy season. The tank of 7000 liters is used during the dry season for watering vegetable gardens.

Andrew said she relied on water from the well, which is kilometers from her home, to get water for her botanical garden.

According to Agronomist, Onekanono Geoffrey, who works with Action Against Hunger US, continued production of vegetables is needed to maintain food security and livelihoods.

Refugees, like everyone else, need a constant supply of greens in their diet. “Food and livelihood are important components,” Onkanono said.

The refugees are provided with various vegetable seeds with less gestation period and trained in the optimal use of their backyards to grow vegetables. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) financially supports the project implemented by the ACF Foundation.

“We make sure to maximize the limited space and also provide a water source near every home,” he added.

Camp leaders said there were widespread cases of malnutrition, especially among children.

“We used to have many children who were malnourished because of the unbalanced diet,” said Martin Opoligo, camp leader in Bagerinia.

Adjumani county has 244,000 refugees in 19 settlements, according to the head of the Refugee Welfare Committee, Moses Niang. The largest refugee settlement is Niumazi with a population of 52,000 and the smallest is Magi 1 with 584 refugees.

The number of refugees increased mainly in December 2013 when civil war broke out in the neighboring country of South Sudan.

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