Degree Granting Department
David A. Himmelgreen, Ph.D.
Nancy Romero-Daza, Ph.D.
Daniel Lende, Ph.D.
household gardens, HIV/AIDS, southern africa, applied anthropology
Studies of food insecurity have frequently focused on rural dwellers as vulnerable
populations. However, during the ‘global food crisis’ of 2007-2008, riots in more than
50 countries visibly demonstrated the vulnerability of urban populations to food
insecurity due to rapidly rising food prices. This study examines factors associated with
participation in an urban garden project (UGP), utilizing surveys (n=61) and in-depth
household interviews (n=37) to examine food security and dietary diversity of households
in urban Lesotho.
Households that participated in the garden project were more food insecure and
had lower dietary diversity than those that did not participate. However, it cannot be
determined if participation in the project caused this difference, or if households already
experiencing these issues self-selected to participate. Factory workers households, which
make up a large part of the target population, did not appear to be much difference
between factory worker and non-factory worker households. More female-headed
households than male-headed households were categorized as severely food insecure and
experienced lower levels of dietary diversity, though this difference is not statistically
significant. Because the study did not utilize random sampling, the findings cannot be
generalized. Nonetheless, they provide important direction for future studies.
Lack of awareness was the primary barrier to participation in the project. Another
barrier was not having enough time to attend demonstrations, to plant, or to tend a
garden. Time constraints were often work-related but sometimes included to other
obligations such as attending funerals. Participants in the urban garden project were very
knowledgeable about the costs and benefit of participating, reported having taught others
how to replicate the gardens, and had even shared seeds with friends and neighbors.
Despite the project having started a mere six weeks before the time of this study, and the
fact that the garden demonstrations were being held during the winter season in Lesotho,
UGP participants reported having already eaten and sold leafy greens from their gardens.
Key areas for follow up study include a randomized, longitudinal examination of
participation in the garden program, as well as an evaluation of the effectiveness of the
project. Further, an examination of coping strategies such as the use of funerals as a
source of food also deserves systematic study. Finally, there should be consideration of
how information is disseminated to communities, with careful examination of what
defines “community” and how social networks strongly influence the distribution of
knowledge about such projects.
Scholar Commons Citation
Noble, Charlotte Ann, "Small Plots, Big Hopes: Factors Associated with Participation in an Urban Garden Project in Lesotho" (2010). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.