With support from the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), over 60,000 orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and HIV-positive women in Ethiopia have improved their nutritional and economic status through an urban gardening project.
Since its launch in 2004, the gardening project has helped families in six urban areas most affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic generate income and food, stay in school and adhere to antiretroviral treatment (ART).
The six urban areas include Addis Ababa, Dessie, Gonder, Bahir Dar, Adama and Awassa.
Members of the program are trained in drip irrigation management, educated about HIV/AIDS, and also linked to other PEPFAR-supported HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment services.
In August, a workshop was held to highlight these achievements and others made in the six regions chosen to partake in the urban gardening project.
At the workshop, farmers shared lessons learned in using urban gardens to help OVCs and women increase their food intake and income level.
Today, thousands of women and children know how to tend to land to create vegetable gardens. These new plots have helped people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) care for their families by enabling them to produce both a sustainable food supply and an income from surplus produce.
But the urban garden project has done more than just pass along valuable techniques and knowledge. This program has also fostered a renewed sense of purpose and hope for many gardeners, and has helped reduced stigma in Ethiopia. The garden experience has sent, and continues to send, the message that PLWHA can learn new skills, be productive and care for and support their families.
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