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Apr 25, 2017

Burundi 4-H Sister School Gardens Continue to Grow

Harvest from garden shared with visitor
Harvest from garden shared with visitor

In the Burundian mountains, near the headwaters of the Nile River, 4 elementary schools are producing garden vegetables through the Burundi 4-H School Gardens Program.  Washington State University has partnered with the schools to provide financial and technical support to get the gardening program established.  The goal is to educate the students with hands on learning, so they and their families can produce their own food thus, reducing hunger in the region.

At present, teachers in Burundi are completing their second school year of utilizing the 4-H Curriculum (translated into Kirundi) in their 4th grade classrooms (approximately 400 students).  The curriculum can be easily used across multiple content areas (math, science, reading, social studies).  In the classroom students study and discuss plant growth and soil preparation.  Then they are introduced to their classroom lab in the form of garden plots.  Generally, the students are divided into “teams” that care for specific areas of the garden plot.  Those students are responsible for tracking the results from soil preparation and seed germination to harvest.     

At the end of the first growing season, it became obvious that more needed to be done to the soil for better plant growth and success.  With some help, the Agriculturalist in Burundi was put in touch with a Scientist at the University in Bujumbura.  That Scientist was able to produce a report that could be sent to Washington State University Professors who were able to provide the correct information about what types of nutrients could be added to the soil for better success in the future.

One of the challenges in Burundi is the weather.  Historically there have been two definite rainy seasons in the country.  However, with changes in the climate those rainy seasons are no longer dependable.  Therefore, it was a challenge to keep the school gardens irrigated through the first growing season. Through an intentional fund raising campaign, enough funds were raised to be able to install rain catchment systems at two of the four schools in Burundi.  Those rain catchment systems were installed in December 2016.  With dependable water for the gardens vegetables will be able to complete their growing season through harvest in March – May, 2017.  Thanks to our generous donors for making this happen. 

Jan 31, 2017

Water Catchment Systems Installed at Schools!

Installation of Water Catchment System at School
Installation of Water Catchment System at School

Water Saves Lives – Water Saves Gardens for our 4-H Sister Schools

Water is a need as basic as breathing.   It lies at the heart of everything that is important to us. We drink it, we grow crops with it, we wash with it. Without water, life cannot thrive. Crops cannot grow. In Burundi people with no access to water are forced to make long, often dangerous journeys to the nearest water source. In many situations it is the women and children who are given the responsibility to secure water. The time it takes to find water could be spent attending school.

 Burundi has two rainy seasons per year. Historically the rains have come, as predicted. Presently, due to changes in the climate, the predictability and patterns of rainfall are erratic and unreliable.   With unpredictable rain patterns people cannot know when to plant gardens. If they plant crops too early they run the risk of seeds failing to germinate. Conversely if they plant too late the rains could subside before the crops are mature. This type of arrangement is threatening the food security for the people in Burundi. The lack of predictability both in the amount and timing of rainfall makes rain-fed gardening in Burundi very difficult.

 Thanks to our wonderful donors we have come up with a solution to this problem at our 4-H sister schools. In December, 2016 we asked for funds for Water Catchment Systems (WCS) for the four schools. Our donors did not let us down. We raised over $2000 and thanks to the quick response by our 4-H partners in Burundi two of the systems are already installed at our schools! With the installation of WCS the students will be able to learn how to grow themselves out of poverty. Access to water will lead to better food security. With less crop loss, hunger will be reduced and schools will be able to feed students with more garden produce. Rain water is rich in nutrients so using rain water to irrigate can reduce the need for fertilizer.

 In the pictures see the finished product and how interested the students were when the systems arrived.

 THANK YOU donors for making this dream become a reality and showing hundreds of students in Burundi that you care.

Students at Busangana School Interested in WCS
Students at Busangana School Interested in WCS
Nov 10, 2016

Gardens and learning flouish in Burundi!

Collecting Soil Samples
Collecting Soil Samples

During the first growing season in our Burundi 4-H Sister School Gardens it became apparent the soil was not quite suitable for plants to flourish.  4-H Staff  on the ground in Burundi wanted to have the soil tested to see what nutrients were missing but they didn’t know where to find the help they needed.  Through several steps, the WSU Burundi 4-H Team was able to connect them with just the right person at an Agricultural Institute in Burundi that was able to test the soil and produce a report.   One of the WSU Burundi team members with a specialty in small gardens then made recommendations about how to enrich their soil for improved plant production.  All of the suggestions can easily be put into action in Burundi.  One of the greatest accomplishments through all of this is that the solution to this issue can be found inside the country of Burundi!  With the help of the agriculturist and through human connections our Burundi 4-H Sister School Gardens’ soil will be enriched for continued use.  It is so exciting to know that in the future, 4-H Staff in Burundi will be able to pursue their soil issues without our support!  This is EXACTLY what we are working toward - sustainability at the local level!

In July our Sister Schools in Burundi joined together to celebrate and share the success of their gardens with the community.  Nearly 700 students participated in the celebration!  Guests of the day included governmental officials, teachers, students, school administrators, school garden committee members, and many community members.  During the celebration they showcased a demonstration 4-H Garden where a youth who had participated in the 4-H School Gardens program explained what they have done in the program so far, and he talked about some of the benefits of the School Gardens. The day’s activities included dance, poetry and drumming performances by the children.  The children also prepared the food for the celebration which included vegetables from the school gardens!

The 4-H Staff in Burundi is strategizing ways to share the Gardening Concepts with community members, so they too can grow their own food. With your ongoing support the 4-H Sister Gardens Program in Burundi continues to grow and expand.

Girls Dancing at Open Door Garden Celebration
Girls Dancing at Open Door Garden Celebration
Boys Drumming at Open Door Garden Celebration
Boys Drumming at Open Door Garden Celebration
Youth presenting food prepared from gardens
Youth presenting food prepared from gardens

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