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Evaluation of Solar Market Gardens in Benin

Although Benin has been making progress in reducing malnutrition problem, yet it still exists at a proportion of public health significance. Access to food and especially to high quality foods is limited in the region. Food insecurity is high and particularly related to a high incidence of poverty and food availability unevenly distributed across the country in the context of recurring rising prices of staple foods. In addition, food production is very dependent on erratic rainfalls, which often lead to precarious food harvests and chronic strain on national financial stability. On the back of this situation, in 2007, the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) began a pilot test of commercial-scale solar-powered drip irrigation (PVDI) systems in the Kalalé district of northern Benin. The Solar Market Garden (SMG) systems were installed in conjunction with local women's agricultural groups. Over the first two years of operation, these gardens were found to have a significant impact on the food security and economic well-being of the farmers and their households (Burney et. al 2010). However, there is no evidence base on their health and nutrition impacts in sub-Saharan Africa. Increased consumption, along with increased income, could all contribute to improvements in maternal and child health and nutrition outcomes. In addition, to date there has been limited understanding as to how these types of program can be optimized to maximize impacts on child health and nutrition outcomes. The goal of the present study is therefore to evaluate the impact of the SMG on child and women’s nutritional status, child and mother anemia status and measured indicators of women’s empowerment. The study was conducted in 16 villages in the Kalalé district of northern Benin at the same period (January –March) in 2014 and 2015. The study enrolled 774 households. Socio demographic information, household food insecurity, child and women’s anthropometry measurement, and information pertaining to women’ empowerment were obtained.

 Jennifer Burney and Roz Naylor were contributors for this project. 

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