Education and Health : School gardens and kitchens

Regional Campaigns

Education and Health: School gardens and kitchens


For several years, IDAY has integrated health into its education programmes. In tropical areas, the many serious infectious diseases are responsible of absenteeism and loss of cognitive abilities of the pupils considered as an important cause of school failure. Indeed, as the report [1] published by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) shows, health is an important lever for education:

  • – health interventions for vulnerable children lead to an additional 2.5 years of schooling;
  • – deworming and malaria prevention at school can improve school results by 25% and 62% respectively; and
  • – school feeding besides reducing the prevalence of anemia by 20% among girls, increases the enrollment by 9% and the duration of schooling by 8%.

These data reinforce the action of IDAY members who since 2009 have been setting up school gardens and kitchens, including plants with high nutritional value for the preparation of meals and medicinal plants, of which Artemisia annua. This plant, from China, has been used for more than 2.000 years against malaria and other tropical infectious diseases including intestinal worms in Asia. Artemisia annua is a useful complement to drugs and mosquito nets promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO) especially for vulnerable populations who do not have access to these expensive means.

School kitchens are equipped with energy-saving stoves, which reduce the amount of wood needed to make meals, prevent deforestation and reduce CO2 emissions as well as costs. The GPE also emphasises that schools are ideal places to provide simple, safe and effective health interventions for girls and boys from the age of 5 to 20. A survey in Kenya by JPAL of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the USA shows that deworming in school is the most effective action to reduce dropouts.

IDAY is therefore active in areas such as the fight against malaria, food security and nutrition, access to drinking water, etc. This holistic approach responds to the priorities of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, which emphasises “the need to invest in science, technology and innovation as multifunctional tools for achieving the continent’s development goals in areas such as agriculture, clean energy, education and health”. [1]

Discover our detailed approach by downloading this presentation sheet.

Countries: Benin, Burkina-Faso, Burundi, Cameroun, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mauritania, Niger, Uganda, DRC, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania & Togo

School gardens and kitchens

The improvement of school results and the dramatic reduction in health expenditure in more than 50 Kenyan schools following the planting of Artemisia annua in school gardens since 2011 have prompted several IDAY members to propose similar projects. The school garden appears as an ideal way to raise awareness among pupils, teachers and, through them, their community, about health, education and the environment. Discover our detailed approach by downloading this presentation sheet. 3 main themes are addressed to contribute to improving school attendance and performance in schools:

  • Improving the health of pupils and teachers in schools
  • Improving the quality of education in schools
  • Improving pupils’ and teachers’ knowledge of environmental issues

A complete manual (documents, links to videos, animations, etc…) is given to teachers and covers the different areas to be exploited through the school garden. The composition of the projects varies according to the priorities of the national coalitions. They may include medicinal plants, mainly one or more Artemisia, plants with high nutritional value, irrigation, equipping the school canteen with energy-efficient stoves, use in pedagogy by teachers.

Schools are also invited to set aside 10% of their garden area for the production of seeds and seedlings for the multiplication of their experience. Experience shows that the size of the school garden and the availability of staff generally does not allow for the production of enough plants to cover the needs of the whole school. In order to have a direct impact on the health of the pupils, and therefore a sufficient production of plants, several options are to be considered according to the local context: community fields, allotment gardens,…

It is also important to note that access to water is an essential component of the project. Where the context justifies it, school canteens are equipped with low-energy ovens. Teachers are encouraged to use the school garden as a teaching tool by carrying out practical exercises in the garden related to school subjects. Teachers Without Borders Belgium is associated with this component. Teachers and students are invited to join a private Facebook group “DUO for a Change” whose objective is to put in contact schools within the IDAY network that are developing a vegetable garden and are interested in environmental issues. On this group, they will find documents, videos, didactic activities in order to take advantage of the school garden to address themes such as biodiversity, respect for the environment, healthy food, medicinal plants, etc. They are also invited to share their activities in order to inspire others. Belgian schools are invited to join the group if they show an interest in this theme.

Currently, school gardens with one or more components are being implemented in Benin, Burkina-Faso, Burundi, Cameroun, DRC, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritania, Uganda, Tanzania and Togo. Although the composition of school garden projects can vary from country to country, they all have one thing in common: advocacy with the authorities to convince the government to include school gardens in its national education and health policy. To do this, it is necessary to demonstrate their impact on the health of pupils and their school results. In this perspective, precise indicators are collected during the project.

Today, already more than 75,000 children benefit directly from this program in their schools! Behind them, it is their families who are sensitized to take care of their health. And on a larger scale, building on the results obtained, advocacy activities target the political-administrative authorities primarily responsible for taking adequate measures to combat poverty, ensure health and well-being and guarantee access to quality education for all school-age children.

Find out more on our projects of school gardens waiting for financing at projets. Find out more on current achievements at news.

Find here an example of advocacy led by IDAY through a school garden project.

Find also the school garden project in Cameroon. This project aimed to integrate vegetable gardens in 60 schools over a period of 4 years. Discover the summary of good practices and lessons learned from this project.

DUO for a change

Our young people are the actors of change of tomorrow’s world, let’s help them to prepare themselves through a dynamic of global reflection. DUO for a Change is an IDAY program that brings together classes of young people, from primary or secondary schools, from partner schools of the coalitions participating in this program. They exchange practices, experiences and creations related to the environment and climate change.

Based on the contextual realities of each one, the objective is to establish a constructive dialogue allowing the young people of Africa:

  • To get to know the context of the other;
  • To create a relationship of reflection and mutual aid between young people around these themes of global citizenship;
  • To set up appropriate actions for the development of a global citizenship and solidarity aiming at becoming an actor of change to improve their living conditions in the North as well as in the South, which could have as a consequence to avoid young people in Africa to put themselves in dangerous migratory situations;
  • To give the keys to the youth of Africa for the reinforcement of an endogenous development;
  • To encourage intercultural dialogue and increase the awareness of young people of their power of action as citizens of the world through a more specific theme, namely the field of biodiversity and sustainable development;
  • To create a school garden in African schools to improve the health and quality of education in these schools;
  • To choose an energy saving source appropriate to the context of the school in Africa;
  • To inspire national school garden and canteen programs in these countries based on the success of these initial actions;
  • To promote the initiatives of local associations in Africa that are active in these themes, and to bring their actions and tools to the attention of young people.

To do this, a Facebook group has been created, gathering students and teachers from different schools so that they can exchange with each other. This group is regularly updated with photos and videos showing the projects in progress as well as educational tools on the theme of the environment.

As for information, the average budget needed for a school garden and kitchen is 2 500 €/garden

Sustainable Development Goals concerned

Sustainable Development Goals involved in certain actions:

Artemisia annua in the fight against malaria


After having succeeded in halving the incidence of malaria in the world, the World Health Organisation (WHO) acknowledges in its latest report on malaria an increase (+10%) of the number of registered cases particularly in Africa. Its current strategy based on Artemisinin-Combination Therapy (ACT), impregnated bed-nets and early diagnosis, is very expensive and its continuation depends on increasing the amounts of foreign aid far beyond what is available and reasonable. WHO considers that USD 7,5 billion are needed per year to free the world of malaria while only USD 2,7 billion are available. In addition, resistances to insecticides and ACTs are extending beyond Asia to Africa. Clearly, the current strategy has reached its limits and several African authorities recognise that at this pace, the United Nations’ Goals of Sustainable Development against malaria (in particular SDD N° 3.1) will not be reached by 2030.

Artemisia, what is it?

Artemisia annua is a medicinal plant derived from the Chinese pharmacopoeia and used for more than 2.000 years in Asia to treat malaria and as a well-being plant. In 2010, an IDAY-Kenya agent identified in the Kenyatta University gardens a cultivar adapted to the African climate and not sensitive to photoperiodism. Its dissemination and use have been spectacular since the tests conducted by Professor Guy Mergeai of the Faculty of Agronomy of the University of Liege, especially in Senegal. Artemisia annua is the basis of the current medicines Artemsinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT): the molecule artemisinin, which has been proven effective against malaria, is extracted from it. The plant is clearly a polytherapy. The famous US researcher, Professor Pamela Weathers of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, cites about 10 ingredients of the plant that could be effective against malaria. Artemisia annua contains anti-oxidants, essential oils, flavonoids, zinc, all known to be effective against infections. Artemisia annua is of the Asteracea family that contains several species known for their medicinal effects. Artemisia afra, a native species to Africa, is also effective against malaria and does not contain artemisinin.

IDAY strategy on Artemisia annua:
Surveys on use and culture of Artemisia annua

In addition to the training of young people in the cultivation of the plant in school gardens and the exchange of good practices between them, IDAY also encourages the collection of medical data and the conduct of clinical research on a sustained basis. 3 parallel actions are necessary. Surveys on the use and cultivation of Artemisia annua A first independent evaluation of the impact of the preventive use of Artemisia annua in schools was conducted in 2014 on a sample of 12 schools in Kenya. This survey concluded that the plant had a positive impact, both medically and educationally, but the limited means did not allow for a complete scientific framework with medical examinations and comparison with control schools. International experts advised IDAY to verify these results according to a rigorous protocol of medical surveys and tests. This exercise was launched in November 2018 with equity capital and support from private foundations. It compares the results of schools that have developed school gardens that have been using the plant as a preventive measure against malaria for more than a year with those in schools that do not have the plant. The study involves 16 schools in Burkina Faso and 22 in Kenya, 16 of which are involved in medical testing. The medical tests cover the incidence of malaria and intestinal infections. The first results should be available in the course of 2020. The study also includes the analysis of the chemical composition of Artemisia annua teas produced in the schools that grow the plant, by the laboratory of Professor Pamela Weathers’ Worcester Polytechnical Institute. Indeed, the WHO’s number one argument against the use of the plant by the growers themselves is the risk of a wide variation in the chemical composition of the leaves and therefore uncertain efficacy against the disease. 16 leaf samples from Burkina Faso and Kenya are being tested to verify their composition not only in artemisinin, but also in other components suspected of treating malaria. Cost 48,000 €. International research in partnership with Kenyatta University Numerous studies exist on the use of the plant. Rare are those of international level and conform to WHO criteria (double-blind comparative tests). Moreover, they mainly cover curative treatment, but rarely the preventive use of the plant (prophylaxis), which is nonetheless crucial because of the uncertainties that continue to hang over the effectiveness of vaccines and the impact on school learning. The treatment per plant is subject to the same obligations as when a new pharmaceutical treatment is placed on the market. Kenyatta University (Nairobi) and IDAY signed an agreement in 2012, extended in 2018, proposing to conduct such clinical trials in Kenya with the support of international experts. Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) has been closely associated with this study project. The clinical tests will be conducted in 3 parts: (1) a pilot test of the preventive effect of Artemisia annua tea on 900 pupils in 12 schools in accordance with the WHO’s strict standards for the treatment of life-threatening diseases; (2) analysis of the repellent effect of the plant compared to the absence of mosquito nets in 4 prisons (generally without mosquito nets); (3) based on the results of (1) and (2), combined treatment of the repellent effects of the plant and the preventive effects of the tea compared to the results of the separate effects. Subsequent tests could be conducted on pregnant women and newborns who are currently inadequately treated preventively due to the toxicity of the available drugs. At this stage, only parts (1) and (2) are considered. Discussions are underway with various Belgian universities in order to join forces with IDAY to apply for funding from the Belgian federal government. Cost: 595,000 €. WHO symposium and inquiry In 2017, the Minister of Health of Burkina Faso has proposed to organise a symposium that will bring together WHO representatives, African Ministers of Health, African and international researchers and practitioners of Artemisia annua and afra. The aim is to get WHO to enact the conditions under which Artemisia annua can be integrated into official malaria programmes in Africa. Cost: 100 000€.

More information on Artemisia annua

IDAY deals with education in Africa. Why take an interest in a plant?
There is evidence that health has an impact on the quality of education. The results of the School Gardens projects in place since 2008 show a decrease in the absenteeism of the children and the teachers, an increase in school results and a decrease of the healthcare costs of the establishments (budget which is released for other projects). It should also be noted that 3 crises of malaria before the age of 5 decreases by 15% the cognitive abilities of the child.
Why does malaria have an impact on education?
A simple example: a teacher has 54 students in his class. His wife is having a malaria attack: he walks 2 days in the bush with her to go to the nearest health center. She is treated for 5 days. They go back 2 days to reach their village. For 9 days, 54 children do not have a teacher. And it was the teacher’s wife … there is also the malaria crisis of the pupils, the teacher, etc… Would it not have been easier to have Artemisia Annua in the school garden?
Have studies already been conducted that prove that Artemisia annua is effective against malaria?
The greatest evidence of the effectiveness of the plant as prevention and as a treatment for malaria is its use by the Chinese for over 2000 years! But as in the West we like to prove things scientifically, studies have started on the subject for several years now (a document containing scientific references can be sent on request). They highlight the effectiveness of the plant, its components playing a complementary role when taken in totum. Studies also show that the plant adapts to different geo-climatic conditions.
World Health Organization: What does it think of the Artemisia annua?
Artemisia annua is the plant from which artemisinin is extracted, which is associated with another product (such as Mefloquine) to produce the official drug (ACT) promoted by the World Health Organization and distributed worldwide. BUT! The first resistances were observed to the latter drug, which means that it becomes less and less effective against malaria. WHAT IS THE SOLUTION? Artemisia annua! Studies show that Artemisia annua should be used in its entirety. It is in fact the combination of its components that makes it effective against malaria and that there are no observed resistances: there are too many different components for the body to develop resistances.Thus, the plant as a repellent against mosquitoes and as a preventive and curative herb tea or powder, is a solution that IDAY-International regularly brings to the table of the WHO, which for now is awaiting the results of the research to lift its resistance.
Why is Artemisia annua not yet adopted as an official means to eradicate malaria?
Well, because in our Western way of thinking, for many doctors, “we do not treat diseases with plants”. Clinical studies to WHO standards are not yet sufficient. They are expensive and, unlike pharmaceutical companies who finance studies to prove the efficacy of a drug because there is a financial return behind it, in the case of this plant, funding is difficult to find. Our strategy: 1.  Research : IDAY + Kenyatta University signed a Memorandum of Understanding to conduct this research in accordance with WHO requirements. The research will be conducted by Kenyatta University (Kenya) with the support of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Ma, USA), Wageningen University (the Netherlands) + and Liege University (Belgium).The study will also show that the plant can be used by pregnant women and young children. 2.     Financing of new school gardens: more young people need to be trained throughout Africa to grow the plant. In 2010, in a pilot program promoted by IDAY-Kenya in the Kisumu region of Kenya, an area severely affected by malaria, Artemisia annua was planted by students from two secondary schools. Preventive treatment with tea has proven to be surprisingly effective. School absenteeism disappeared and health expenditure has fallen by 80%. Student performance has skyrocketed. As a result of this success, many schools in Kenya have adopted the plant and Artemisia annua projects have also been launched by IDAY members (see map above). The results are all in the same direction … so we must continue! The school garden budget includes irrigation, tools and training (technical support given by agronomists to young people who start a project). In addition, IDAY supports Youth Clubs: young people who have invested in the cultivation of Artemisia annua in their school, keep 10% of the seeds in order to bring them to other schools. In addition to the seeds, they bring their knowledge necessary to the culture.Once the crop is launched, the project no longer requires external investment since it is managed locally. The results of the scientific studies combined with the results obtained in the field will give confidence to the World Health Organization and the Ministers of Health who may decide to switch to an official use of Artemisia annua in their country. The Artemisia annua is attracting growing interest among governments of the African continent, due in particular to the growing difficulties encountered with official programs, both in terms of resistances to distributed pharmaceutical products and financially.
What do local people think?
This is the strength of the project: local people see the effects of the plant and take over the project. Some prisons, not generally receiving the means of prevention and care for malaria, also began to cultivate the Artemisia annua. A prisoner often takes seeds with him at the end of his incarceration and starts a culture in his village.
Did the Artemisia annua have other virtues?
Yes, it is also very effective in the treatment of intestinal parasites, the third most frequent disease in Africa which is alsoresponsible for school absenteeism. Studies show that deworming students has an impact on academic performance. Scientific studies suggest that the plant is effective against several tropical infectious diseases including tuberculosis, leishmaniasis and schistosomiasis, …
Is the plant difficult to cultivate?
It is not uncommon for the crop to fail in the first year: the plant has not received enough water, people have allowed the plant to flower and thus cannot keep seed for the next year’s crop . But our experience on the ground shows us that expertise is acquired quickly. IDAY has set up Youth Clubs: young people who have invested in the Artemisia annua culture in their school, keep 10% of the seeds to bring them to the neighboring schools. In addition to the seeds, they bring their required knowledge to the culture. Agronomists also support young people in existing projects.
Is it adaptable to all climatic conditions and all terrain?
The plans of Artemisia annua had to be adapted to the geo-climatic conditions of the different regions of Africa. Experience shows that it grows everywhere with an intake of organic manure and an adequate supply of water.
Does it grow back every year?
No, it’s an annual plant. It is therefore necessary to keep seed that will be replanted the following year.
Does it need a lot of water?
It needs water on a regular basis. Irrigation is therefore part of the budget of the projects we support.
What is the area needed?
Calculations are based on the following assumptions (to be checked according to local conditions) : Field experience leads us to take the following data: 1 ha gives 750kg of dried Aa (very good yield) = 15.000/ha bags of 50gr. Needs an average person in prophylaxis according to the recommended dosage: 126gr/year (= half of the year depending on the rainy season) So, in practice, 1 hectare covers the prevention needs of 8,000 people. 1.25 m2 are required for the needs of one person.
Yanou has malaria

In order to sensitize children and their families to the plant, IDAY asked a Cameroonian author-illustrator, Vincent Nomo, to create a children’s book which is published in Cameroon. This is how the book Yanou has malaria was born. This awareness-raising tool is also used in other member countries of the network. In addition to this, a pedagogical guide for teachers was recently produced by the publisher to encourage teachers to use this book in their subjects.

Cultivation methods of the plant