Enhancing food security through development of allotment gardens in and around the cities of Benin

Food insecurity of urban poor in Sub-Sahara Africa is a serious development challenge. The number of inhabitants grows faster than the infrastructure and basic utilities cities provide them with. This situation leads to overcrowded megapoles which have trouble to ensure poor basic needs. Moreover, nutritional situation of urban poor is daunting because they face seasonal food shortages and price volatility. Furthermore, commodities like fruits, vegetables and dairy products can become unaffordable luxuries to poorer urban inhabitants. To address these concerns, the Centre d’Actions pour l’Environnement et le Développement Durable (ACED), in partnership with ACWFS and the Faculty of Agronomic Sciences of the University of Abomey-Calavi, implements from 2016 to 2019 the project “Enhancing urban food security through development of allotment gardens in and around the cities of Benin”. The project aims to create an integrated framework for the development of allotment gardens, providing urban poor with access to fresh foods and with a safe haven for women to gain additional income. The project is funded by the Food & Business Global Challenges Programme of NWO. In April this year, the report on allotment pilots was  finished. The preliminary findings in this report show that there is a high participation of female and male and no conflict in the gardens. On Abomey-Calavi site, there is already a sense of organization where participants gave a local name to their group and subscribe to a small membership fee. The Porto-Novo’s site is a bit behind because they did not start at the same moment as those of Abomey-Calavi. To gain practical knowledge on the appropriate organization and incentive structures for successful cooperative garden management, the project conducted a survey with experienced gardeners to understand indigenous knowledge on common garden management. The report shows that allotment gardens have many benefits on food security and incomes of gardeners, as well as on social relationship and the environment. It also indicates how experienced gardeners are organized, what could be improved and which optimal organizational form can be advised to participants of the pilots.