Document Type

Honors Project - Open Access


By most measures, Botswana is an African development success story. However, there are still segments of the population that suffer from the interlinked phenomena of persistent poverty and food insecurity. The Government of Botswana and its partners have increasingly sought to address household food insecurity through gardening initiatives of various sizes and commercial orientation, but the success of these efforts has not yet been evaluated. I use an interdisciplinary approach, incorporating both econometric analysis and qualitative data viewed through the theoretical lens of political ecology, to determine how effective these women’s gardening initiatives are in addressing household food insecurity. I compare the relationship between commercial orientation and food security for women who rely on borehole water, tap water, and river water. I find that food security status improves with commercial orientation only if a woman is already experienced with the commercial market or if commercialization will help her cover her water bills. I also challenge the discourse that women who receive food aid put forth less effort in their gardens; I find that there is no significant difference in harvest for those who rely on government food assistance, and that a woman’s attitude toward gardening is a much more important determinant of garden success. This study’s results call into question claims that commercialized horticulture will improve food security without addressing the gendered dynamics of water access.

Included in

Geography Commons



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