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06.12.2021 | Blog

Plants help grow self-confidence

Empowered women learn to take care of their nutritional needs through a Welthungerhilfe project in Tajikistan

Eine Frau steht vor einem Gewächshaus in Tadschikistan, 2021.
A project participant stands in front of a greenhouse
Kerstin Bandsom Team Communications

Dilbar Odineva smiles contentedly. The 47-year-old mother of five has been running a greenhouse for less than a year, and the results are good. In that short time, she has already been able to bring in several harvests. Dilbar attributes her success to the know-how she has acquired through the project: "In our region, it is too cold to simply plant the seedlings outside. In the project, we were taught how to grow them properly in the greenhouse and later bring them outdoors. I also found out that if I put a small oven in the greenhouse, I can further improve the results."

Eine Frau hockt auf dem Boden und kontrolliert den Wachstum der Pflanzen, Tadschikistan 2021.
Project participant Dilbar Odineva in her greenhouse. The warmth not only makes her plants sprout, but also calms her nerves. © Welthungerhilfe

Fresh vegetables – all year round

Dilbar can now grow and harvest several times a year - even in the cold season. So her yields have increased dramatically. Now there is enough for her family, they can harvest fresh vegetables and herbs all year round. It's an important step in a region where nearly half the people don't have access to enough nutritious food. Moreover, Dilbar explains, they are now even making some profit: "We used to sell nothing, but now we sell our produce at the market or trade it for sugar, rice and soap. We can even support our son, who is studying medicine in Dushanbe." In addition, Dilbar, who is diabetic, has grown fond of her garmkhona (Tajik for "greenhouse," literally "warm house") for a very personal reason: "It's much warmer in the greenhouse than outside, and whenever I feel unwell, I come here. Weeding in the warmth calms my nerves. That's why the greenhouse is such a joy for me."

Eine Frau vor einer weißen Häuserwand, Tadschikistan 2021.

The children, who used to eat mostly bread, now also get to eat more eggs and different vegetables.

Mamlakat Tulaeva Nutrition leader

Better nutrition thanks to newly acquired knowledge

Greenhouses, kitchen gardens and improved storage facilities are important factors in improving the nutrition situation in Tajikistan. However, knowledge about healthy nutrition is just as important. Together with our Tajik partner organization Fidokor, Welthungerhilfe trains medical staff and nurses on the symptoms and consequences of malnutrition. This also includes content on child care, safe motherhood and other health-related topics. In addition, there are cooking classes, food presentations and brochures for participants in the projects. In order to deliver the content to as many women as possible, 79 women's self-empowerment groups have been established with a total of 1034 participants. In these groups, women discuss best practices, share knowledge and learn from each other. They receive further input from nutrition leaders, who are elected from the ranks of the groups and receive additional training. 

Project participant Zarafo Farkhudinova proudly shows off her watermelon, which is thriving thanks to the greenhouses. "The seeds I got from the project grew so well in my greenhouse that I decided to grow watermelons as well. I shared seedlings with my neighbor and had enough to sell over 500 seeds. With the money I support my daughters who go to school and my student son. I want to expand the green house so I can sell more and support my community." © Welthungerhilfe
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Project participant Sangimoh (right) stands in front of her greenhouse with a project staff member. "The greenhouse helps us a lot. For example, cucumbers used to be too expensive for us. But now we have fresh ones from July to October." © Welthungerhilfe
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"Our yields have never been as good as with the greenhouse. Especially pumpkins and tomatoes grew very good. I was very happy with the quality of the cucumbers and the two sorts of beetroots that we got from the project," says project participant Sharifamoh Zokirova. © Welthungerhilfe
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By preserving food, Shamigul can store their harvest for a long time. "During the project I learned a lot about food preservation. We also renovated the storage and because of better air circulation food waste is much lower." © Welthungerhilfe
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From the project we learned a lot about health, and we planted new and healty crops like cauliflower. Growing periods also expanded so much that we get tomatoes from March until December.” Murodbegim Debarbekova also participated in the project and is especially happy about her tomato harvest. © Welthungerhilfe
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Together, the men build a new greenhouse. © Welthungerhilfe
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A project participant from the women's group shows her bean harvest. © Welthungerhilfe
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One of the project participants washes his hands at the newly installed hand washing facility. © Welthungerhilfe
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Members of the women's group proudly display their harvest. © Welthungerhilfe
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One of these nutrition leader is Mamlakat Tulaeva. She says that the participants in her group are between 23 and 53 years old, and most of the women have at least one child. In particular, the training sessions on breastfeeding have been instructive for her: "Before, we threw away the colostrum (the first milk) and gave water to the newborns. Now we know the benefits and have changed our practices. The children, who used to eat mostly bread, now also get to eat more eggs and different vegetables." Through cooking demonstrations with each other, healthy recipes are shared and the women learn how to use the new crops.

Improvement of general hygiene

Another project activity is the construction of hand washing facilities and the rehabilitation of drinking water systems, one of which is located in Mamlakat's village. The impact she has observed is promising: "We had many cases of hepatitis, which have now greatly decreased. This year there has not been a single case. In addition, child mortality, which is mostly related to diarrheal diseases, has decreased."

Key activities

At household level 

At district level 

At community level 

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