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  • Rooftop kitchen gardens in West Aswan, Egypt.
    AKDN / Christopher Wilton-Steer
Om Habibeh Foundation
Kitchen gardens in Upper Egypt empower women and improve children’s diets

In Upper Egypt, patriarchal structures, gender norms and unequal gender power relations significantly restrict women’s access to resources and opportunities for development. Girls are still discouraged from advancing their education and working in mixed gender settings is often not accepted.

One such example is Fatma, a young woman from Al-Raghama Al-Balad village in Aswan, who was showcasing some of her kitchen garden produce in the exhibition area of a recent event that highlighted International Women's Day.

Women in Upper Egypt, where the Om Habibeh Foundation (OHF) – a part of the Aga Khan Foundation – works are traditionally excluded from agricultural activities because working outside the home is socially unacceptable. OHF’s Women in Agriculture Programme unlocks the potential for women’s active engagement in horticultural production, allowing them to grow their food at home, which can significantly improve nutrition for the family, save money and even generate an income from the sale of surplus products.

Through the programme, Fatma was able to establish a kitchen garden in her home, where she farms tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines and many other vegetables and herbs. Since starting the kitchen garden, Fatma reports that her children’s diets have improved drastically:

“The kids are eating more quantities of healthy fresh foods, which before were unaffordable for us. I also don’t use any pesticides or artificial fertilizers, so I am confident in the safety of the food my children are eating.”

To date, more than 1,560 women like Fatma have benefited from this intervention, receiving intensive training and materials from OHF to start their own kitchen gardens and establish a better footing for their families.