This is a guest post by Aaron Buchsbaum.
I am on the outskirts of the city of Jessore, in Bangladesh, surrounded by fourteen women, an equal number of babies, and one very tired translator.
We sit together on a tarp, spread under a thatched overhang that adjoins a small cement house. Some of the women are quiet, some talkative, all are dressed in beautiful bright patterns, and all are either pregnant or nursing.
Although I have a thousand things I’d like to ask, I only have time to ask them about one.
At the household level, gardens are an obvious way to increase access to good food for women and children, and the world of International Development (ID) often promotes them as a sure-fire fix – but without considering the broader picture. This type of ‘empowerment’ could negatively effect pregnancy or childcare due to the demands of manual labor, or fail to account for household dynamics that leave resources still firmly in the hands of other family members.
I’d like to lay out some of the very reasonable logic and momentum behind household gardening targeted towards ‘Pregnant and Lactating Women’ (PLW), but at the same time explain why ID needs to approach this ‘magic bullet’ with caution and careful analysis. Continue reading