Fresh Vegetables And Healthy Eating In Lesotho’s Highlands

Women working in a vegetable garden in Lesotho's southern highlands. (Copyright: WFP/Carol McFarland)

A community gargen helps improve the food security of a village in Lesotho.

Mohlakore Ngakane is part of a group of villagers who started a community vegetable garden at the beginning of the 2011 growing season with the help of WFP. She lives with her three children in the remote village of Likholoaneng in Lesotho’s southern highland district of Qacha’s Nek.

For several months, she has also been enrolled in a WFP support programme for nursing mothers. The food she gets from this program helps ensure that she and her five-month old baby stay healthy and that the latter grows up strong.

“My baby is becoming a little bit fat since we started getting this food,” she says admiringly.

Now, it is harvest time and Ngakane is thrilled that she and the other women can take home food from the community garden and share it with their children.  She has gotten to learn about different kinds of vegetables and how to cook them, giving her and her family a chance to diversify their diet.

The garden project, part of WFP’s Nutrition Programme in Lesotho, is designed to improve the livelihoods of participants whose access to good food is limited. The idea is to help people move away from dependence on food assistance and become self-sufficient.
 
Ngakane, along with other group members, have been trying to cultivate staple crops in their fields, including maize, beans and peas. Unfortunately, she is finding that the recent extreme changes in Lesotho’s climate are making it difficult for her crops to grow.

“During the past few years, these changes have made the soil bad,” she says, “and the growing season is now too short to grow good crops.”

The drought this spring and early summer made things difficult, both in the fields and their garden. Fortunately, there is a stream through the local village but members have to haul water up a steep hill in buckets to water their vegetables.

The group likes being part of the project and would like to see it expand. They would particularly like to see a simple irrigation system in place.

Some of the participants are working in the garden to support their family members who are HIV positive and too sick to work. They say the fresh food is really good for those who are unwell and helps them become stronger.