SANGO Diaries, Chapter 39. World Health Day

Improved Food Security

Improved Nutrition

Improved Health

Many of us take our health for granted, but for the people who live in the communities where SANGO-Kenya works, health is never taken for granted. Cost, inaccessibility to proper health care, and lack of availability of medication are some of the challenges that make good health so elusive.

These are also the factors that led to the founding of the World Health Organization and the celebration of World Health Day every April 7th.

We started SANGO-Kenya five years ago to strengthen the food and nutrition security of smallholder farmers, their children, and others relying on them. We focused on training farmers to sustainably raise traditional African leafy green vegetables because of their climate resilience and also because of their nutritional value.

“Leafy green vegetables are good sources of many of the nutrients essential to human health and development, including vitamins A, B and C, minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and iron, and phytochemicals,” said Dr. Constance Gewa, SANGO-Kenya’s co-founder and Director of Programs and Evaluation.

“Additionally, Kisumu is a malaria-endemic area. Improved food and nutrition security and better health can help decrease the severity and prevalence of malaria.”

Although many of the farmers knew that they and their families should eat vegetables, most of them didn’t before they were in the program. They didn’t know how to grow them and they were too expensive to buy in the market.

All that has changed because of the work SANGO-Kenya has done.

The impact is greater than we ever imagined. So often in conversation, the mothers tell us what a difference eating vegetables has made to their children’s health. “You can see it in their skin. They are healthier,” one of the Lead Farmers told us. “And they are sick less often, we make fewer trips to the hospital.”

In addition to training the farmers to raise and prepare the vegetables, we also train them to dry them, so they can eat them even after harvest has ended. “The dried vegetables also support food security,” Connie added. “While some vitamins are lost when the leaves are dried, the minerals and phytochemicals are retained. Furthermore, vegetables, dried or otherwise, are good sources of dietary fiber and contribute to better metabolic health.”

We are encouraged that the farmers will continue to eat the vegetables, that their children’s health will improve. “My family loves the vegetables. We have them with every meal,” a farmer told us on one of our visits. “If we don’t have vegetables, my children ask where they are.”

We have far to go, but on this World Health Day, we celebrate the great progress our farmers have made towards stronger food and nutrition security — and better health.

Erokamano. Asante. Thank you. None of this would be possible without you.

The SANGO-Kenya farmers, their families — and Winnie, Evance, Peter, Franck, Connie, and Kit

On this World Health Day, we happily celebrate the accomplishments of the SANGO-Kenya farmers!

There are still many challenges, but thanks to you and your support, we are making progress!

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