Home gardening in Yemen: growing healthy families

After her husband died two years ago, Saymah Omer Hasan (38) takes care of her four children in one of Yemen’s most vulnerable districts. Saymah shoulders the responsibility for her three daughters and a son, all under the age of ten, alone.

Saymah’s home, Bani sa’d district, is marked by lack: a lack of water, a lack of agricultural activity, and a lack of market access. Because work is hard to come by and Saymah is no longer supported by a husband, her financial situation is extremely fragile. The family’s subsistence depends on as little as two goats and a cow.

Dangerous alternative

Saymah would want to buy vegetables from the market but cannot afford the vegetables nor the travel expenses. Walking would make for a dangerous alternative. The discomfort of covering the long distance alone, passing through uninhabited areas, is a risk she cannot allow herself to take.

To feed her children, Saymah has few options. She borrows food from neighbours and at times eats Cissus alongside her children – a wild tree that is used as a last resort in case of severe food shortages.

First yield

By becoming a ZOA beneficiary, Saymah received seeds and tools to set up a vegetable garden at home. A couple of months later, the garden gave its first yield. Today, Saymah harvests zucchini, okra, lettuce, and radish – much to the delight of her four children.

 

Saymah Omer Hasan: ''Thanks to the home garden my family eats vegetables when we need them. The garden makes me feel more secure about our food supply. I am also very grateful to be able to provide for my children. It restored my self-esteem.”

Fresh produce

The recently planted home gardens add much-needed nutritional value to beneficiaries’ meals. First, the fresh produce provides an alternative to monotonous diets otherwise relied on: tea with bread, with little variety besides. Second, the garden’s yield is rich in vitamins, iron, and minerals, and provides the nutritional value that Saymah’s children need for their physical growth.