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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Small Plots, Big Hopes: Factors Associated with Participation in an Urban Garden Project in Lesotho
by Noble, Charlotte Ann, M.A., University of South Florida, 2010, 143; 1483460
Abstract (Summary)

Studies of food insecurity have frequently focused on rural dwellers as vulnerable populations. However, during the 'global food crisis' of 2007-2008, riots in more than 50 countries visibly demonstrated the vulnerability of urban populations to food insecurity due to rapidly rising food prices. This study examines factors associated with participation in an urban garden project (UGP), utilizing surveys (n=61) and in-depth household interviews (n=37) to examine food security and dietary diversity of households in urban Lesotho.

Households that participated in the garden project were more food insecure and had lower dietary diversity than those that did not participate. However, it cannot be determined if participation in the project caused this difference, or if households already experiencing these issues self-selected to participate. Factory workers households make up a large part of the target population; these households did not appear to be much different from non-factory worker households in terms of food security. More female-headed households than male-headed households were categorized as severely food insecure and experienced lower levels of dietary diversity, though the differences are not statistically significant. Because the study did not utilize random sampling, the findings cannot be generalized. Nonetheless, they provide important direction for future studies.

Lack of awareness was the primary barrier to participation in the project. Another barrier was not having enough time to attend demonstrations, to plant, or to tend a garden. Time constraints were often work-related but sometimes included to other obligations such as attending funerals. Participants in the urban garden project were very knowledgeable about the costs and benefit of participating, reported having taught others how to replicate the gardens, and had even shared seeds with friends and neighbors. Despite the project having started a mere six weeks before the time of this study, and the fact that the garden demonstrations were being held during the winter season in Lesotho, UGP participants reported having already eaten and sold leafy greens from their gardens.

Key areas for follow up study include a randomized, longitudinal examination of participation in the garden program, as well as an evaluation of the effectiveness of the project. Further, an examination of coping strategies such as the use of funerals as a source of food also deserves systematic study. Finally, there should be consideration of how information is disseminated to communities, with careful examination of what defines "community" and how social networks strongly influence the distribution of knowledge about such projects.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Himmelgreen, David A.
Commitee: Lende, Daniel, Romero-Daza, Nancy
School: University of South Florida
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: MAI 49/03M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Nutrition, Public health, Public policy
Keywords: Applied anthropology, HIV/AIDS, Household gardens, Lesotho, Southern Africa
Publication Number: 1483460
ISBN: 978-1-124-37014-9
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