By: Yousra Yusuf, Women Deliver
Across the world, 510 million women and girls lack access to proper nutrition. In the Philippines, 5 million adults were found to be underweight in 2010. To fight malnutrition in the Philippines, nonprofit organization Roots of Health introduced the Vertical Gardening project to help women grow their own plants to feed their family and community. After the project’s implementation in May 2010, 101 vertical gardens have been installed in the Pulang Lupa community to-date.
Roots of Health was established with the aim to empower women and improve women’s and families’ health and wellbeing. Currently, about 4 million pre-school age children and 5 million older adults are suffering from malnutrition in the Philippines. Rates of micro-nutrient deficiency are especially alarming, with close to 50% of lactating and pregnant women suffering from iron-deficiency anemia. Malnutrition causes major, irreversible damage to a child’s physical and mental health in the womb and during the first two years of a child’s life.
Pulang Lupa, the focus area of Roots of Health, is a community built on top of abandoned mercury mines. High levels of mercury in the water and soil renders people of this region incapable of farming to feed their families. The vertical gardening lease program was implemented to solve this food crisis by training women and families to grow their own crops in a plastic drum. The plastic drum with holes cut out at the sides helps participants to grow different types of vegetables to diversify their diet and gain necessary nutrients. The drum provides more than six times the surface area of the top surface of the container for planting and growing vegetables. Roots of Health provides participating families with a compost-enriched soil mixture to avoid using the mercury laced soil in the region. In 2011, Roots of Health staff helped build 28 new gardens, and residents planted about 1,206 plants across the community.
Vertical gardening projects are an innovative idea gaining popularity around the world, especially in places lacking the right conditions for plant growth. With the development of this program, residents in Pulang Lupa can ensure that women and children will not suffer from the adverse economic and health effects of malnutrition in the coming years.
To read more about Roots of Health, click here.
Flickr photograph via farmingmatters.