The effects of agricultural and nutritional support programs on health are not fully understood. This article looks at school and home gardens, which are gaining attention in the research and development community, but evidence for their effects is limited, particularly for lower-income countries. We examine whether a joint school and home garden program improves blood iron levels among school children (aged 9-13 years) in rural Nepal. Low levels are an indicator for anemia—a common nutritional disorder in South Asia. Our data come from an experiment involving 30 schools and 680 children and was measured via a finger prick method 6 months after program support ended. We also evaluate if the program influenced blood iron levels through the nutritional knowledge of children and their caregivers; through the use of good food and hygiene practices at home and the children’s dietary diversity. Our results indicate that the program did not lead to a direct reduction in anemia. However, for children under the age of 12, the program indirectly improved blood iron levels through behavioral changes in the use of good food and hygiene practices (e.g., washing hands before eating). We therefore argue that including education on nutrition and good food and hygiene practices as part of integrated garden support programs is key to improving children’s health.
- Region/s: South Asia
- Theme/s: Human Development · Impact Evaluation · Micro-Data Collection
- Research Topic/s: Agriculture · Education · Food Security & Nutrition · Health · Youth & Children
- DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/03795721231194124
1. Baliki G, Weiffen D, Schreinemachers P, et al. Effect of an Integrated School Garden and Home Garden Intervention on Anemia Among School-Aged Children in Nepal: Evidence From a Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial. Food and Nutrition Bulletin. 2023;44(3):195-206. doi:10.1177/03795721231194124