SESSION 4: 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Panel B: From Farm to Table: Lessons in Food Security

C103 Hesburgh Center

Moderator: Susan Blum

Analyzing community garden initiatives and techniques in the Chilumba area: how communities take a village approach to food security and nutrition

Matthew Schubert, University of Dayton

Thirty-seven percent of children aged 6–59 months are moderately or severely stunted in Malawi currently and 5% of those children are wasting, or too thin for their height (NSO and IFC International, 2017). In 2015, 10% of Malawi’s GDP was spent on fixing the problem of stunted growth (IFPRI, 2015). To combat problems of food security, some communities in Malawi and other developing countries have developed community gardens, a form of agriculture that includes community ownership and maintenance of the land. This research examines different community gardening initiatives in the Chilumba catchment area of northern Malawi. Through 40+ focus groups and individual interviews involved in the maintenance, management, and support of the community garden; this project examines the best practices that allowed for success in community gardens.Results from the collected data showed that the primary factors contributing to the success of community gardens were the community’s access to water, access to available markets, and amount of existing capital. Many other factors such as gardening techniques and social capital contributed to the success of gardens but were not found in every group. Findings also showed a connection between the withdrawal of financial and physical support of NGOs and the failure of otherwise successful community gardens. These findings will be used to create recommendations presented to the NGO Determined to Develop for the future development of community garden initiatives.


Humanitarian Assistance in Protracted Emergencies: Reconceptualizing the Role of Food Aid in Adjumani, Uganda

Victoria Puglia, Lafayette College

Given the susceptibility of humanitarian assistance to funding cuts, refugees in Adjumani, Uganda, who rely on food aid as their primary source of income continuously suffer from the repercussions of food aid reductions. This study aims to examine the impact of humanitarian food relief on socioeconomic structures in refugee settlements in Adjumani to understand the consequences of unstable food aid beyond food insecurity. Despite being one of the largest refugee settlements in the world, hosting over 200,000 refugees, Adjumani is an understudied area. While existing literature on refugee settlements and Adjumani focuses mostly on food aid, food security, livelihood, and socioeconomic structures in isolation, my research emphasizes the bidirectional links that exist between these elements. Over four weeks, I conducted key-informant, in-depth, and focus group interviews. I also collected data through participant observation of food/cash distribution, team meetings, and a household food insecurity questionnaire. My findings highlight high levels of food insecurity at a household level. However, because most refugees have no alternative forms of income, they are forced to use food aid as an economic asset to meet non-alimentary needs. This results in greater food insecurity and poverty. NGOs condemn the use of food aid as a liquid asset, overlooking the reality on the ground. Drawing from these insights, I argue that in abiding by the theoretical ideals that underpin the current food aid system, local and international actors participate in the perpetuation of food insecurity in Adjumani. Furthermore, I make a case for the reconceptualization of food aid as an economic asset, rather than just as a means of achieving food security. Doing so highlights the importance of income-generating activities for the formation of more stable socioeconomic structures that have the potential to provide alternative and more sustainable means of achieving food security in Adjumani.


Permaculture Gardening And Adaptation; The Potential for and Obstacles to Behavior Change in Farming Techniques to Increase Food Security in Rural Malawi

Morgan Day, University of Dayton

This study assessed permaculture (PC) gardening as a solution to food insecurity in rural northern Malawi by investigating its potential to be adopted by farmers and increase food production. Permaculture is "a system of agricultural and social design principles that synergistically and adaptively centers upon natural ecosystems," which includes strategic water and waste management and plant selection (Rivett et al., 2018). Research was conducted in partnership with Determined to Develop, a grassroots Malawi-based NGO. On a micro-level, this study documented best practices of permaculture in Malawi. On a meso-level, the obstacles to adoption of permaculture by traditional farmers and behavior change of the individual within larger cultural, political, economic, and environmental contexts were assessed. On a macro-level, the state of development of Malawi and whether permaculture is a potential solution to food insecurity was explored through interviews with political, academic, and nonprofit representatives. This study included 21 interviews and one focus group. An overarching theme of reciprocity was found, with sharing of knowledge and resources among stakeholders as well as a symbiotic relationship with the environment being indicators of successful outcomes. Overall, permaculture has the potential to mitigate food insecurity in Malawi, but obstacles, including economic (poverty and lack of education), cultural (aversion to labor and jealousy among neighbors), and ineffective public policies, prevent farmers’ behavior change and permaculture from being an effective solution. This study recommends further research into commercialization of agriculture and reform of public policy to increase available permaculture farming education and inputs.



Household Nutrition in Rural Chilumba: An identifying baseline study of childhood and family nutrition as it relates to gender and family structure

Rebecca LeBouef, University of Dayton