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As the number of gardens increases every year, local Slow Food teams in Africa who manage existing gardens are facing specific challenges.
Each country with a large local network is experiencing similar difficulties in managing proper and constant follow up on existing gardens, especially those that are more isolated and harder to reach, and in keeping the gardeners active in the growing network (turnover of the garden coordinators is also an issue).
Since 2020, huge efforts have been made in developing an effective monitoring and evaluation system to help capitalize on existing experience, track changes and needs on the ground, refine the capacity of Slow Food’s headquarters to respond to the requests of beneficiaries and raise attention and funds to address the most relevant issues. Coordinators are aiming to systematize their follow up and to visit the gardens once a year if possible. The SF Gardens Monitoring and Evaluation System uses the online platform Confluence, with different forms for school and community gardens available in English and French.
Between 2010 and 2021, thanks to the Slow Food Gardens in Africa program:
- 470,000 people have been involved in a range of initiatives (training, events, advocacy)
- €3,095,310.70 has been donated by over 1,800 donors from 32 countries
- 40 scholarships have been funded for African youth at UNISG
The Covid-19 pandemic
School and community gardens in Africa helped members and participants face the food security challenges generated by the Covid-19 lockdowns. The Slow Food agroecological gardens represented a valuable source of good, clean and fair food as food markets were suspended and financial resources dwindled.
The Slow Food networks organized some solidarity initiatives during the pandemic.
In Uganda, in June 2021, President Museveni said that only people wearing masks would be allowed to go back to work and travel in public. To encourage communities and members to garden and to speed up the resumption of Slow Food activities and contact with the local network, funds were raised locally by Slow Food Uganda staff to produce and distribute masks to community leaders, garden coordinators and regional coordinators. Moreover, by partnering with organizations that had developed online sustainable food vending systems, Slow Food Uganda made it possible for the Slow Food Communities, Earth Market members and the garden beneficiaries to be considered as vendors on the systems.
In Kenya, the emergency offered the opportunity to strengthen the connection with local markets for the 50 Slow Food community agroecological gardens, 20 school gardens and 180 individual small-scale farmers involved in the local Slow Food network. A pilot delivery system was organized to collect food from the producers and distribute it to the identified targets by setting up and managing strategic food distribution points directly in the communities. Slow Food Kenya facilitated the logistics by organizing a distribution calendar and hiring or purchasing adequate vehicles for the distribution. Local authorities and county governments gave institutional support to the development of the project (for example, providing venues for the distribution points) and were lobbied for help with promoting agroecology in the target counties. The initiative targeted about 16,000 community members (2,000 suppliers and 14,000 consumers) in Nakuru, Narok and Baringo counties.
More examples of good practices from 2021:
Slow Food Heroes: a team to help 623 families, read the article here
What’s going on in South Africa?, read the article here
Compared to many other countries, even in Africa, Ethiopia has so far been spared the worst of the pandemic: The country accounts for around 10% of the continent’s total population, yet less than 2% of its Covid cases.But that hasn’t stopped the virus from having a huge impact on daily life, even though unlike most countries around the world, Ethiopia never introduced a lockdown. To get a clearer picture of the situation in Ethiopia, and the work of the Slow Food network as it adjusts to this new reality, we spoke to Eskender Mulugeta, the founder of Food Secured Schools Africa and IncrEdible Gardens Addis Ababa and a committed proponent of agroecology: “Generally we are pushing on. People are not locked down, so they can go to work and get food to eat, but the price of food has skyrocketed. Onions are now 40 birr (around €1) a kilo, which is almost double what it was before. The reason for the price jump is not entirely clear, but clearly, we need to address it. Action must be taken. This could start with people producing more of their own vegetables at home: urban agriculture and home agriculture.”
Eskender Mulugeta from Ethiopia, founder of Food Secured Schools Africa