At a stone's throw from the city-center of Goma, a garden of around 300 square meters shelters a few flower beds, namely germiners for vegetable plants. It is in the Lac Vert district where the Association UVDI (Union of Volunteers for Integral Development), whose headquarters is located in Kiwanja, Rutshuru territory, decided to launch their new green project entitled "A vegetable growing garden for every household".
Several weeks ago, Pélagie Uwayo Kabano, the North-Kivu provincial Minister of Agriculture, approached MONUSCO through the Indian contingent INDRDB based in Himbi (one of the eighteen districts of Goma) to launch a campaign for a vegetable growing garden development project aiming self-sufficiency in vegetables for the vulnerable people, especially the war orphaned widows and the elderly. The project consists of developing innovative out-of-ground vegetable gardens in the various districts of Goma, especially those with the lowest sources of income.
As part of this project, an appropriately designed out-of-ground vegetable gardens, occupying little space, are being built in the backyards of houses where a few underprivileged families live and previously selected on the basis of their vulnerability.
"About twenty young volunteers help us to grow seedlings, weeding and hoeing the soil in the Lac Vert district. The aim is to replant them in out-of-ground vegetable gardens so that the vulnerable people who will benefit from can eat fresh vegetables, in particular cabbages, onions, eggplants, carrots or even spinach", explained Onésime Barianga, the coordinator. of UVDI association.
If this pilot project is successful, other household gardens will be rolled out for other vulnerable families in Mugunga, Himbi, Kyeshero and Ndosho neighborhoods.
The project "A vegetable garden for each household" was jointly planned by the provincial Ministry of Agriculture, UVDI association, the Indian contingent from MONUSCO's central sector and MONUSCO's office in Goma. A financial assistance worth $ 500 was granted by MONUSCO/Goma for the construction of the first ten experimental vegetable-growing gardens. The funds were used for the purchase of fertile soil, manure, for the conduct of awareness sessions and the technical realization of the vegetable gardens in the backyards.
"The project, for which we are gathered here, relates to a promising and well-defined activity for the benefit of the already identified vulnerable persons. Indeed, this household vegetable garden project is good; if the vegetable garden is well maintained, it could benefit families not only in terms of food but also in terms of improving health. It offers first and foremost the advantage of eating fresh produce and avoiding malnutrition," said Elisa Pasini, MONUSCO representative on that occasion.
During the inauguration of the project on July 15, 2020, Pélagie Uwayo Kabano took the opportunity to applaud MONUSCO's contribution for the project, calling for "increased cooperation to extend the benefits of these mini-vegetable gardens to other disadvantaged families in the city".
For his part, Colonel Arun Awasthy, the deputy commander and chief of staff of the central sector Brigade in Goma, addressed the beneficiaries and those present that day, congratulating them "on the occasion of the 60 years of independence" and renewed his willingness to provide "help to the people of DR Congo". Stressing the guiding principles of the United Nations mandate, he reiterated "peacekeepers' commitment to bring lasting peace to the region".