Backyard Gardens Fostering Community Resilience in Uganda: Florence’s Story - GOAL Global Skip to content

Backyard Gardens Fostering Community Resilience in Uganda: Florence’s Story


July 2, 2024 • 3 min read

In Tenge Parish, Agago District, Northern Uganda, food insecurity and micronutrient deficiency are enormous challenges for rural communities, particularly during the summer months. Prolonged dry spells can lead to crisis levels of hunger, malnutrition, and chronic disease.

The Community Conversations Approach

Florence is a 22-year-old woman living in Labima Highland Village. She participated in a series of Community Conversation sessions, supported by GOAL through the Irish Aid-funded Irish Civil Society Partnership (ICSP) programme.

Community Conversations are a series of facilitated conversations in which community members discuss and reflect on issues affecting their daily lives. These sessions provide a safe space for individuals to identify and address barriers – including cultural norms, attitudes, and beliefs – that prevent them from adopting more positive practices that would improve their overall well-being.

These sessions are run by trained facilitators from the local community. Community Conversations promote social behaviour change, encouraging community-wide participation in transforming their lives through participatory learning and problem-solving. This approach cultivates a culture of collaboration and supports communities in developing a collective voice to address challenges affecting the community.

A Community Conversations session taking place in Labima Highland Village.

Combatting Malnutrition Using Backyard Gardens

In June 2022, Geregere Sub-County experienced a devastating famine, which led to seven deaths across five villages in Agago District.

In response to this crisis, GOAL implemented the Community Conversations approach through an Irish Aid-supported Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health and Nutrition (MNCHN) programme. The programme aims to raise awareness of proactive measures that community members could undertake to improve their overall health and nutrition, while preparing for future shocks, such as droughts or famines. Community Conversation facilitators played a critical role in disseminating this information.

Facilitators providing a training on how to cultivate backyard gardens.

Florence’s Story

Empowered by the insights she gained during the Community Conversation sessions, Florence began to proactively address the nutrient deficiencies in her household by cultivating a backyard garden. Backyard gardens can play a pivotal role in reversing malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies in vulnerable communities. The gardens ensure that households can have a steady supply of fresh vegetables for consumption, even when disposable income is limited.

Florence’s decision to establish a backyard garden was informed by a prior barrier analysis conducted by GOAL. This analysis revealed that many households engaged in commercial agriculture often sold most of their produce to meet other immediate household needs.

Robinson Oketch, a Community Conversations facilitator, said: “Backyard gardens play a crucial role in securing food and fighting malnutrition. Working together with local leaders, we promote awareness for cultivating drought-resistant crops.”

Florence tending to her thriving backyard garden, which she uses to grow food for her children.

Florence employs innovative farming techniques, such as drip irrigation, which maintains the vitality and health of her vegetable garden during periods of limited rainfall. Drip irrigation involves the controlled release of water directly to the roots through specialised small-diameter pipes or containers. The community has embraced this method as a way of enhancing vegetable production.

Florence is now an advocate for attending Community Conversations sessions. Her story demonstrates how one person adopting positive health and nutrition practices can cascade down to the rest of the community. With support from Irish Aid, Florence has helped her village become more resilient by fostering a culture of collaboration and learning, whereby members of her community feel comfortable working together to develop innovative solutions to complex challenges.

Learn more about Irish Aid’s work.