DIG Deep, Build-Up: Linking Health, Edu & Ag in East Africa

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DIG Deep, Build-Up: Linking Health, Edu & Ag in East Africa

Atlanta, United StatesRongo District , Kenya
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Working in partnership with Kenyan primary schools & local Ministries of Education and Agriculture, DIG establishes sustainable agriculture programs that create early childhood feeding initiatives, develop gardens & food forests, improve schools performance & provide vital life skills for students.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

East Africa is facing an ongoing crises of malnutrition & poverty. Children who are undernourished are more vulnerable to infection, disease, & poor cognitive functioning, which can have life-long negative effects. Having access to quality food & proper nutrition is the foundation for a child’s successful future. Schools provide an ideal intervention point for DIG's program to begin to redress food security, education and health issues.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

With the flow of resources dwindling, rural development initiatives call for multi-dimensional and cost-effective responses. DIG’s school agriculture program provides a feasible solution to feed the most vulnerable while teaching students sustainable agriculture skills that can enrich their lives, the lives of their families & future generations. DIG's program involves students, PTA, school leadership, community elders and local officials to repurpose school land for tree nurseries, horticulture & staple crop production, animal husbandry projects & other activities. Harvests support early childhood feeding programs, excess sales fund student scholarships and the school becomes a learning ground for the whole community.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

In response to global hunger, DIG developed an action-oriented approach encouraging self-sufficiency, improved nutrition, & an understanding of how food is linked to health. Mary (7yrs old), 1 of 850 Kuna Primary students with only 16 teachers, used to miss lunch because her home was too far away & the school provided no meals. Mary had low grades, was often distracted & showed little initiative. As DIG's program took root, Mary helped transform her school campus & her future. Today, she’s eating lunch from the garden she helped grow, using pens purchased from excess harvest sales, leading her family in their new home garden initiative, & excelling in science. With stories like this, DIG is inspired to expand the program throughout Kenya.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

An example of our impact can be seen at DIG’s WISER Girls School Garden in Western Kenya. Today, the school provides students with more than 20,000 nutritionally improved meals annually. Over 130 students apply DIG techniques to develop & maintain sustainable gardens at the school & in their homes. In 2012 alone, DIG's programs in Nyanza province (Kenya) trained more than 184 small holder farmers, built/improved over 417 home gardens, developed 26 community plots, & implemented 4 agriculture programs at rural primary schools. Students are more successful in school & have better attendance. They are applying their learned skills at home, teaching family members & neighbors about sustainable agriculture. On average, for every $100 invested in a household DIG garden the family gained $300 from produce sales & money saved on food expenditures annually.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

DIG’s partners are the owners of these projects. DIG engages local stakeholders in designing, investing, & sustaining the program. Only appropriate technologies that incur minimal expense (green manures, seed selection, water conservation, local sourcing) are used. Income generating activities such as tree nurseries, seed banks, local markets provide long-term revenue. Continued financial support is not needed after DIG’s initial investment.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

DIG’s multidisciplinary approach to improve nutrition & school performance enacted at primary schools in East Africa has proven to be unique & successful. Plenty of programs address nutrition, agriculture, health, OR education issues but very few pull all these ideas together, make solutions to these challenges feasible for the community & walk side by side w/ them to turn their vision for healthier generations into a sustainable reality. DIG does this through our comprehensive model & partnerships with local organizations, institutions, & the communities they serve.

Founding Story

Walking home from school, Anise (16yrs) was pulled into an abandoned building & raped. When her family discovered she was pregnant & HIV positive they shamed her. With a baby on the way, the doctors encouraged Anise to get involved with a DIG project at the local hospital. Anise came to DIG defeated & alone, but after working alongside others with similar stories she began to rebuild her life. She took pride in her home garden, nurtured it while it nurtured her. Through the safe space of the garden, Anise realized she was not alone. She became a productive member of her family & school. She gave birth to a healthy baby girl & found a new place of respect in her family. It was her story that first made us realize the true impact of a garden.
About You
Development in Gardening (DIG)
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Development in Gardening (DIG)

Organization Country

, GA, Atlanta, Fulton County

Country where this project is creating social impact

, WE, Rongo District

Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them

•Awarded funding to develop 4 HIV Clinic demonstration gardens for the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (2011-2012)
•DIG’s Executive Director received the YouthActionNet Laureate Global Fellowship for exceptional young social entrepreneurs (2008)
•Awarded funding from Starbucks Shared Planet (2010 & 2012)
•DIG sites recognized by former first lady, Laura Bush, and visited by former President Clinton
•Presented at the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington DC (2012)

Nutrients For All
Where do you ensure the availability of nutrients?

Healthy environments., Nutrient-rich farming, Full nourishment foods, Human wellness and vitality.

If you had greater capacity, which additional sectors would you like your solution to target - either through expansion, partnership, or thought exchange?

Healthy environments, Nutrient-rich farming, Full nourishment foods, Human wellness and vitality.

How specifically would this added capacity help you improve the quality, efficiency, or sustainability of your existing product or service?

This added capacity would allow us to improve and scale up our existing service. DIG would eventually like to see every primary school in Kenya have an early childhood feeding program and a school sustainable agriculture program. We do not currently have the capacity to work on a national level but DIG is now working with the MOA and MOE to develop pilot projects on the district level then hopefully with added support we can pilot it regionally and nationally in the future.