Industries in Depth

Children in this Kenyan refugee camp are being inspired to farm

A worker picks flowers designated for export at a farm near the town of Thika, Kenya April 27, 2018. REUTERS/Baz Ratner - RC1961B34210

They're helping close the nutrition gap in the camp. Image: REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
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Dimiana Nange Clement is a young refugee and a budding farmer. The 11-year-old lives with her family in the Kalobeyei integrated settlement in northern Kenya. The settlement is adjacent to the Kakuma refugee camp, one of the largest such facilities in the world.

Families and schools here are increasingly turning to gardening as a source of better nutrition and a way to inspire youngsters like Dimiana, who comes from South Sudan.

“I want to be a farmer,” says Dimiana, who was convinced of this after just a few months of agricultural training in a Junior Farmer Field and Life School.

Dimiana’s enthusiasm for farming has grown as her school’s dusty backyard has given way to a lush vegetable garden.

There are no farmers in Dimiana’s family. “I would be the first one,” she says with a smile.

Kalobeyei settlement opened in 2016 to ease the pressure on Kakuma, offering a model for self-reliance and the integration of refugees with local residents. The combined population of the two settlements is 185 000.

In a bid to improve food security, nutrition and self-sufficiency, FAO has helped more than 7 000 households in Kalobeyei to set up kitchen gardens, providing them with seeds, tools, training and mentorship, and opened up a 400-hectare area for farming involving 750 households.

 Left: Teacher Lotino Lino (right) and county agricultural officer Claryson Lopem Ebenyo inspect the farming club’s special case for sun-drying produce. Right: The settlement is in an arid area of Kenya. All wastewater at the school, such as from this drinking fountain, is saved and used for the garden.
Image: ©FAO/Sven G. Simonsen

The farming school is an optional class at Dimiana’s primary school and offers practical experience designed to help refugee children produce their own food. The pupils are taught water-efficient farming techniques – essential knowledge in the arid environment of Turkana.

Water is very scarce here, and Kalobeyei households receive only 15 liters per person per day. They use household wastewater for gardening while some houses have tanks to collect rainwater.

 Dimiana is new to farming but she’s already an enthusiast.
Image: ©FAO/Sven G. Simonsen

Refugees in Kalobeyei receive a monthly cash transfer of USD 14 per person. That money does not go far in purchasing fresh, nutritious foods in the market, along with other expenses. The family and school gardens are helping to fill the nutrition gap and, as in the case of Dimiana, are inspiring a new generation of farmers.

By investing in the future generation, FAO is empowering them to take action and be a part of the global goal to achieve Zero Hunger.

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Industries in DepthFood and WaterGeographies in Depth
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