ECHOcommunity Conversations

Food security for internally displaced persons living in camps

Good evening

A lot of communities have been displced from their farm lands in Northern Nigeria as a result of the insurgency and the farmers/herders clashes. Our organisation is considering food security projects for the displaced people. Has anyone worked in such situation? What worked well?


I am from southern Nigeria and presently in southern Nigeria (Delta State), but threat of insurgency is almost in every state of Nigeria.
May God act on the government of Nigeria and defeat the power behind insurgency in Nigeria, in Jesus name. Amen

If food security is your main concern than you should be growing Jack beans!
Thousands of small farmers are growing - and eating - Jack beans in several SSA countries after their main crops have been destroyed.
Even locusts do not eat Jack beans! The only crop, yet found to resist them!
For more info contact Graham at

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Our organization, Agri-Plus work in a refugee camp in Bangladesh. One of the first and biggest challenges is learning the government requirements and regulations. Governments that are hosting the refugee camps usually are very restrictive on what you can or can’t do. Many questions need to be asked. Do the refugees have land available to them? Who manages the land? Are the refugees permitted to trade, buy and sell? After getting the proper permissions you are ready for the next step.

Going into the camp and finding out what their greatest felt need is. Is the host government supplying their food? In our case the host government supplied their food but it packed nutrition. We are teaching the refugees simple, sustainable gardening practices such as mulching, GMCCs, seed saving and storing, and composting. Fertilizers and pesticides are unavailable in camp so we teach them alternative methods.

One of the keys of success in working in camps is learning, asking questions, and following the rules. God bless you as you go,
Edward Martin
Agri-Plus program manager


Thank you all for replying quickly and well. I hope there are many others who will share their experience in this challenging conversation. has a collection of resources that share a variety of organizational and practical considerations that may be of use.

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Food Plant Solutions, (who I represent) creates educational materials that identify local food plants for a country or region that are high in the most beneficial nutrients (Iron, Zinc, Protein, Vit A, Vit C) and we include starchy staples. Our materials explain how to grow these plants, what parts are edible, photos, how to use the parts and nutritional information. We also include information on sustainable and ecologically sound growing practices.

From our experience we have found that there is often a disconnect between nutrition and agriculture. Ask any agronomist what the nutritional value of the food plants they grow is, and most (if not all), will not be able to answer you. Likewise, ask a nutrition specialist how to sustainably grow nutritious plants and often they may not be able to answer you. Contrary to popular belief, there is a wealth of edible food plants in the world, over 32,000. Each country has hundred, (some have thousands) of edible plants know to grow there. And yet, worldwide we only eat a small portion of these.

Food Plant Solutions never sends people to a country, instead linking in with existing providers - they best know their communities and how to empower them. Changing diet is difficult and it’s a world-wide issue. We have found through our program partners that most parents want what is best for their children. And most will be doing what they think is best. Using our materials, in-country organisations explain what nutritious food is, why human bodies need it (and how they use it) and then what to grow and eat that will meet nutritional needs. Our materials are science based (our information comes from Bruce French’s Edible Plants of the World Database), and all materials are written in plain English. There are various levels of materials that are suited to varying degrees of literacy.

This approach is gradual but is proven to work, Many people now want quick fixes to everything; a supplement (as an example) for things missing from the diet. That only provides a short-term answer. What happens when the supplement is ceased, has the participants learnt anything that will enable them and their families to prosper in years to come? Our approach is long-term and sustainable.

Our materials are being used by contacts in various refugee camps, all around the world. We are constantly seeking new partners, who can use our existing materials or who we can create materials for.

All our materials are available free from our website or of course through ECHO .

Food Plants of Nigeria


My organization works with South Sudanese refugees living in a refugee settlement in Uganda. We train people to plant gardens (nursery beds and sack gardens) and provide them with a garden kits (seeds, hoes, watering can). We’ve trained about 20,000 families and most participants have been successful. Many are able to grow excess food that they sell in the market to earn money for school fees, clothing, and other household needs.

Everything in the kit is purchased locally, which means that the beneficiaries can buy easily more supplies as needed.

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So we are all members of echo community. I am glad to meet you here.

I’d be really interested to learn more about your organisation Elaine, with a view to possible collaboration. I can be contacted at or