Micro-gardens: a source of fresh and nutritious food for internally displaced people in Syria

Sep 2014

Four years after the start of the crisis in Syria, the UN estimates that some 6.45 million people are internally displaced. While a very small number have found shelter in official collective centers, the large majority of IDPs are hosted by neighbours, families and friends, or live in unofficial shelters, unfinished buildings and makeshift accommodation. Those who flee the fighting often leave everything behind, remaining with nothing or little to provide for their families. This puts a tremendous strain on host communities who are already struggling to meet their basic needs.

In this context, with the support of the Republic of South Africa, FAO designed a pilot project aiming to support the food security of internally displaced families in Homs and Tartous governorates through micro-gardening. Micro-gardening is the intensive cultivation of a wide range of vegetables, roots and tubers, and herbs in small spaces, such as balconies, patios and rooftops. Micro-gardens allow low-income displaced families to meet their needs for vitamins, minerals and plant protein by providing direct access to fresh, nutritious vegetables every day. They also offer a source of extra income from the sale of small surpluses, as well as an alternative occupation.

In the past few months, FAO has trained 500 displaced families on different micro-gardening techniques, among which bed preparation, compost making, water usage etc. In addition to the training, each beneficiary received substrate (growing medium), seedlings (tomato, squash and eggplant), fertilizers and tools to start the production of vegetables at home.

Author: FAO/Syria