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Community Nutrition

For babies to fully develop, for students to grow and learn, for adults to live productive lives, proper nutrition is imperative. While CSRL’s ISU-Uganda Program addresses nutrition in many ways, two primary projects, Nutrition Education Centers (NECs) and school gardens, meet it head on.

First inspired by the severe malnutrition of one baby boy and his mother, NECs provide for the proper nutrition for children, from birth to age five, and pregnant and breastfeeding women. Currently, ISU-UP has nine active NECs located in community neighborhoods throughout the district. Locations are chosen based on the needs within walking distance of the area. Administering supplemental nutrition and related training, the NECs literally save lives while preparing women to maintain their families’ improved health indefinitely.

The school gardens program helps teach and nourish students in four primary and two secondary schools in the Kamuli District. The gardens furnish produce for school lunches that are served in all six locations, varying in frequency from one to five days a week. Two of the primary schools also have poultry programs that help to enhance the lunch program through animal sourced protein and sale of surplus eggs. ISU-UP staff and undergraduate students from Iowa State and Makerere Universities work alongside elementary school children to maintain the on-site school Community Nutrition Venn Diagramgardens and care for poultry. While pupils learn skills in agriculture and livestock management, the gardens and livestock supply ingredients for the school lunch program.

Some of the approaches we utilize include:

  • Establish and administer Nutrition Education Centers
    • Using locally available ingredients, serve a nutrient dense porridge to nourish mothers and infants and teach mothers how to make the porridge at home
    • Coordinate with district health centers to provide basic health education and services
    • Educate mothers on how they can help their families to maintain good health, and provide training on home gardening to produce nutritious foods
    • Provide skills training to help mothers gain income that helps maintain the welfare of their families
  • Coordinate Food and Nutrition Security Support Groups to ensure the continued success of mothers who have graduated from the NECs
  • Establish and oversee nutrition demonstration gardens
  • Establish and oversee school gardens and lunch programs
    • Collaborate with school administrators and parents of pupils to provide school lunches
    • Collaborate with school administrators and parents of pupils to establish and maintain primary school gardens which help support the school lunch program and provide an outdoor laboratory for students
  • Organize gardens that provide food as well as entrepreneurial and agricultural enterprises for participating youth
  • Coordinate craft and farming programs that help women to feed their families, and that benefit students, youth and community members
  • Establish poultry-keeping programs, benefiting the community and the school lunch program
  • Construct and enhance school kitchens to facilitate sanitary and efficient distribution of school lunches
  • Promote improved sanitation and hygiene at schools and in homes through use of tip taps, latrines, rubbish pits, and kitchen drying racks

Continuing goals include:                                                                                       

  • Improve the nutritional and health status of vulnerable groups
  • Increase access to adequate and diverse diets
  • Enhance ability to provide technical services through partnerships
  • Expand the school garden and lunch programs to provide more lunches on more days to more children
  • Promote larger-scale crop enterprises at school gardens for income to support additional school projects
  • Expand kitchen facilities to support increased meal preparation
  • Improve irrigation for more/bigger gardens
  • Open new NECs to reduce travel distances for clients
  • Set up nutrition demonstration gardens in more parishes
  • Strengthen nutritional rehabilitation partnerships with health facilities
  • Reduce mortality and morbidity rates through capacity building
  • Develop best practices publications on nutrition in both English and Lusoga languages

Community Nutrition Individual PlantingThe Kamuli district has been experiencing deforestation due to large-scale sugar cane and rice plantations managed by companies from outside the area. At the same time, fertile soils where families can grow enough food for home consumption is becoming scarce, as has the availability of wood for cooking fuel.

An idea to counter this trend is to establish wood lots and orchards where pupils at area schools have access to fruit and firewood, and a living lab to learn about environmental conservation measures while producing food using locally available resources.

Orchards and wood lots are becoming established at Nakanyonyi and Namasagali schools where pupils can acquire knowledge and skills in sustainable gardening. Schools able supplement student diets with vitamin-rich fruit such as oranges, guava, and papaya as well as have wood to fuel the school kitchens.

Woodlots and orchards also provide mulching materials, help in the control of soil erosion, and provide shade at the schools.

 The students are also transferring the knowledge they are gaining back home to their families. Some have even started growing trees and seedlings in their home communities.


To make a gift to the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods, please click here to go directly to the ISU Foundation, or contact Sarah Roelfs at (515) 294-1031 or sroelfs@foundation.iastate.edu.