Saturday, April 14, 2007
Twelve-year-old Woinishet Wujura's dedication to her gardening duties would be surprising in someone her age, but the land she is tilling has been a lifeline for her and her family because the farm is run exclusively by and for women and children affected by AIDS."I love this garden," she told PlusNews. "I come as much as possible, as soon as school finishes." Woinishet's garden is one of many plots of land in an unusual setting: a sprawling urban farm in the middle of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.The farm, called 'Gordeme', is part of a successful urban gardening project that started in 2004 and now has several farms across Ethiopia, all managed and maintained by about 10,000 women or children.
The goals of the urban garden programme have been to combine HIV/AIDS education with nutritional support for HIV-positive people, but Kimberly Flowers, communications officer for USAID in Addis Ababa, said surplus vegetables were also sold to the surrounding community, providing much-needed income to the women and their families.An estimated 40,000 people buy their vegetables from the project's farms in Adama, Addis Ababa, Awassa, Bahir Dar, Dessie and Gondar, the six largest urban areas in Ethiopia.
The programme also helps reduce the huge social stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS. "The relationship with my neighbours has changed," said Akaki Kaliti, another single mother. "Before the garden they never came to my house. Now they come to my house for food."Ethiopia's HIV prevalence is estimated at about 3.5 percent, and of the estimated 1.32 million people living with HIV/AIDS in 2005, 55 percent - or 730,000 - were women.