Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION

Exchanging knowledge with eastern Africa

  • Print

Her Fort Garry parents were nervous, her brothers didn’t want her to go at all, but Rachel Evans travelled across the world to help study how mortality rates can be reduced in Kenya through proper agriculture.
What she learned there will stay with her for the rest of her life.
The University of Manitoba plant science masters student returned from the east African country on March 31 after spending three months in one of its poorest regions, Taita Taveta County.
"This region isn’t even supposed to be used for farming," said Evans. "They just have nowhere else to go."
In addition to drought, erratic rainfall, and deforestation, the region’s 284,657 residents have to deal with some very large and unwelcome neighbours. Located between Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks, elephants have a habit of wandering onto farmlands and destroying crops.
While there, Evans helped to teach people about kitchen gardens and a larger variety of vegetables which benefit health in hopes food sustainability and health in the region. Evans said the typical diet was very high in carbohydrates with ‘ugali’ or maize flour as a staple.
"Educating the values of dark leafy green vegetables and orange fleshy vegetables, so that is not just about giving out handouts, but educating the community so they will be able to feed themselves in a more healthy way," said Evans.  
Evans was recruited by her master’s supervisor to join the "Mwanzo Mwena" project, in Kiswahili, "Healthy Start" in English.
The project was developed by U of M’s Centre on Global Public Health, funded by the Canadian International Development Agency and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, and partnered with Kenya’s World Renew organization and the Pwani Anglican Church of Kenya.
The project’s main goal is to reduce maternal and child mortality rates by improving family planning, nutrition, and food security. Determining food security meant Evans helping by surveying families.
By asking everything from what they are growing to measuring the circumference of their upper arms, the project, with the help of Evans, found 43 to 65% of households were severely insecure.
"When asked ‘in times when there was low food, would everyone receive less, or would some people receive none?’ Of the people who said that some would receive none, 90% were the wives," said Evans. "So when women in poverty are pregnant and do not get enough food, then their children don’t get enough food and it causes developmental delays."
The biggest impact her trip had on her was the realization of what women can do when empowered. Evans saw that in Taita Taveta County women were mothers, farmers, and cooks for their families.
Coming home from Africa, Evans has realized how lucky she is as a Canadian.
"Food security is very low in Kenya sure, but look at Manitoba," said Evans. "There are places here that can’t afford, or get, proper nutrition."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Readers' Choice Awards

Best Of Winnipeg Readers Survey

See the results of the 2014 Canstar Community News Best of Winnipeg Readers' Survey.

View Results

This Just In Twitter bird

Poll

If the NHL expands into Las Vegas, will you go to see the Jets there?

View Results