Food gardens, household food security status, socio-economic status and perceived barriers to cultivating : Embo Community, KwaZulu-Natal.
Aim: To determine whether food gardens have an impact on household food security status in the Embo community, whether there is a relationship between socio-economic status and cultivating a food garden as well as barriers experienced by members of the community that cultivate food gardens or perceived barriers that prevent them from cultivating food gardens. Objectives: To investigate the impact of food gardens on household food security status by comparing households with food gardens to households without; to determine whether socio-economic status is related to cultivating a food garden; and to investigate why some households cultivate food gardens while others do not, in order to determine the perceived barriers to cultivating food gardens in the Embo community. Method: A cross sectional descriptive survey involving 190 households with and without food gardens was conducted in the Embo community. Data was collected by means of a questionnaire consisting of three sections in order to assess the socio economic status, cultivation of food gardens and Household Food Insecurity Access Scale. Five trained community facilitators employed by The Valley Trust served as field workers for data collection after the survey questionnaire was piloted. Results: Sixty-three percent of households did not have a food garden, while the remaining 37% did. Women were the main cultivators of food gardens, while the main source of household income was the child support grant. Irrespective of whether households had a food garden, electricity was the main source of cooking fuel, while tap water was the main source of water. Government toilets were the ablution facility used by the majority of households, while most households had household appliances such as a cell phone, television, radio and fridge/freezer combination. This was especially prevalent in households without food gardens. The majority of households without food gardens were either moderately food insecure (29%) or severely food insecure (23%) when compared to households with food gardens who were moderately (14%) and severely (12%) food insecure. Most were anxious and uncertain about having sufficient food supply and eating a limited variety of foods. Discussion: Cultivation of food gardens should be encouraged as nearly two thirds (63%) of the 190 households surveyed did not cultivate a food garden. Also, based on socio-economic indicators such as employment status, income, type of household and household appliances, households with a higher socio-economic status did not cultivate a food garden. Households with food gardens had a lower prevalence of food insecurity while households with and without food gardens faced similar challenges related to the cultivation of food gardens. Conclusion: In conclusion, food gardens did have an impact on food security status in Embo as there were more food insecure households without food gardens as compared to households with food gardens. Households with a higher socio economic status tend to not grow their own food. Most of the households that had food gardens experienced the same cultivation barriers and those who did not have gardens had similar reasons. Thus, the cultivation of food gardens should be encouraged by educating households and the community at large regarding the benefits of having a food garden.
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