Establish Urban Agriculture Resource and Information Centers to Educate, Enable and Empower urban communities to be food secure by 2050.
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
I was born and raised in Nairobi City and this is where I currently call home. Like elsewhere in Africa, Nairobi’s urban population growth rate is extremely high (3.93% increase in 2020 from 2019 according to macrotrends.com) due to accelerated rural-urban migration. This lowers the living standard of the communities due to congestion, high cost of living and lack of sufficient social amenities. Majority of the Urban poor live in slums and it is estimated that 35.6% (world bank data) of Kenyans survive below the international poverty line (US dollar 1.90 per day). This creates another constrains on community's livelihood, resilience and food availability & affordability because unlike in rural areas, lack of money directly translates to lack of food in urban areas.
Growing up, I have experienced first-hand what it means to lack food. This is the norm in most households in slums and under-served areas. Affording three meals in a day was and continues to be a major challenge for the urban population. Most children attend school on the incentive that they will be able to get at least one meal a day from school feeding programs.
After graduating from the University, I came back to my community to find solutions to the social challenges we are facing. I learned that as much as space is the limiting factor for agriculture in urban areas, households have little spaces that if well utilized can be used to produce food for consumption. I decided to start by changing people's perception towards agriculture and demonstrate that urban areas can definitely be part of the solution to the war against hunger. I wish to make a difference in my community that can be replicated in other cities and areas and that is why we started the project in Nairobi
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
map of Nairobi
under-served areas in Nairobi.
Nairobi, popularly known as 'Green City in the Sun' is the largest and the Capital City of Kenya famed with having a game reserve, (Nairobi National Park). The population comprises of almost all the 42 ethnic tribes of Kenya which makes the city an amazing hub of culture mix unparalleled by any other city in the region. Like a two-sided coin, the city is known for its sheer natural beauty especially in the high-end neighborhoods where the rich reside with a vibrant social life and there are the low income, under-served areas made up of slums and informal settlements where the poor live in dilapidated conditions. There is a huge gap between the rich and the poor thus creating a sharp difference in income and socio-economic classes.
The city has amazing climate with warm and cool subtropical highland climatic conditions. The temperature ranges from 9'C in cold months of July to 24'C and it has an elevation of around 1795 meters above sea level. Like most Kenyan areas, the city experiences two rainy season in April and November.
Nairobi has a very diverse population making it a city rich in different cultures, heritage and history. The people here are very welcoming, generous and warm to visitors. The diversity in culture is what sets the city apart as the different ethnic groups come to the city with their own traditions and local beliefs. There are also different religions such as Christianity, Islam, Hindu, Jewish and traditional African believers.
Like any modern city, Nairobi is characterized by a wide range of dishes, flavors, culinary and traditional foods from Kenyan ethnic communities that contribute to the local food culture. The traditional foods, which are the most consumed by locals, go with tribe. Research done on the traditional vegetables have found them to be nutritious and they include Cow peas (kunde), Amaranthus (managu), Spider plant(saga), Black nightshade (terere) and many other leafy vegetables. These vegetables are consumed with Ugali (corn flour) which is regarded as the staple meal for Kenyans. There are also cereals like the Maize, beans, rice and nuts that make a frequent meal for communities.
Nairobi middle income population is developing a culture of outdoor eating.These ranges from high-end restaurants with different cuisines from different parts of the world to street hotels However, this food is quite expensive for the urban poor who would rather prefer to buy food from kiosks and cook for themselves. Most households spend more than half of their income on food which still doesn't meet their dietary needs and preferences.
Until 2013 when devolution was enacted, the previous municipal governments never supported any form of agriculture in the city. But this has changed and the County government is working under the Urban Agriculture Promotion and Regulation Act of 2015.
Nairobi's sustainable development rests in upholding and empowering communities' economic and social growth. Change for the urban poor must start from the smallest units-households and communities- by providing all the basics needed for a healthy life such as food security, shelter, sanitation and water.
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
The world population current estimate is 7.6 billion people (UNDP) and the planet is producing more food than ever to feed humanity. But still millions of people, especially in the developing countries, are starving and/or are undernourished. The global hunger index report of 2018 ranks Kenya at position 77 out of 119 countries that still have serious level of hunger and are grappling with severe food insecurity and poor nutrition. According to the report, one in every three Kenyans is facing severe food shortage and they routinely go to bed hungry and that 20% of Kenyans do not meet the required dietary needs that can sustain a healthy and productive life. A report by the ministry of Agriculture in April 2019 confirmed that Kenya productivity and agricultural output has been deteriorating over the past few years. With the projected population increase in the universe (9.8 billion people by 2050-UN), probably the biggest question of our time is how to feed a hungry planet. This would be one of the greatest social problem for the current and the next generation.
Like many large cities, the Nairobi metropolitan is receiving huge number of migrants every year leading to massive population growth. It is characterized with wide variations in residents incomes and access to resources with most living in high density, informal settlements facing severe food shortage and high levels of malnutrition.
The urban residents especially the poor are faced with high food cost prices and increased food scarcity. Most households in these areas spend more than half of their income on buying food leaving little or no money for other investment. the distribution of expenses places foodstuff expenditure for households in Nairobi at 35.2% of income. This is due to the continuous inflation of food prices in the country.
Nairobi is also faced with the problem of public health and food safety. Recent reports from investigative journalism have revealed how food producers endanger the health of consumers by using dangerous chemicals as pesticides in production or untreated sewage water for irrigation. food production systems in Kenya over the past years have degraded our environment and contribute to a high carbon footprint and pollution leading to degraded soils and lower biodiversity.
Though the national diet is rich in food variety, urbanization has eroded this with sugars and starches replacing the variety of vegetables relied on earlier. Lack of protein and animal source foods especially for the urban poor have been linked to food insecurity and malnutrition in urban households,
Nairobi operates within the framework of the urban areas and cities Act and ratified the Millan Urban Food Pact Policy all which requires all urban authorities prepare a plan for urban agriculture. In 2015, the Nairobi City County Government passed its own Urban Agriculture Promotion and Regulation Act. However much remains to be done in terms of implementation and commitment to achieving the objectives of its urban agriculture plans.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
The Nairobi Urban Agriculture Project (NUAP) vision for 2050 is to see that people living in Nairobi have established and control their own food system from production, distribution and all the way to consumption. We forsee the Nairobi metropolis as a sustainable modern city where hunger and malnutrition will be a thing of the past. Communities will be able to produce their own food by utilizing appropriate technologies for urban agriculture on the limited spaces they have.We envision most of the households in Nairobi to have their own gardens where they can grow and harvest their food. The community will have knowledge on urban agriculture and will be enabled to practice farming. Communities will also have their own community gardens in their locality where they can get safe, fresh, nutritious and healthy food. This vision will be achieved through setting up Urban Agriculture Resource and Information Centers where urban residents, schools, youth and women group can visit to be educated and enabled (by providing the needed resources for agriculture) to adopt and practice urban agriculture to ensure household food security. It is expected that the centers will be transformed to lead farms for Urban Agriculture in Nairobi County and they will become a technology, verification, adoption and transfer centers on urban farming with the aim of ensuring the goal of food security for every Kenyan is achieved by 2050. . NUAP will address all the challenges the Nairobi food system is facing and shape a better 2050 as outlined below.
- Urban Agriculture (UA) among city dwellers is definitely one of the solution to hunger and malnutrition. Many people will be educated and enabled to adopt and practice urban agriculture contributing to food security.
- The project will also reduce household expenditure on food and economic shocks especially during droughts in Kenya.
- When city residents practice urban agriculture whether in households or community gardens, it means that fresher produce of consumers’ preference and liking can reach their tables.(diets & culture)
- There will be less reliance on food grown in environmental unconscious conditions. There will be no need for trucks that transport these food, thus reducing pollution and global warming.
- The project will also streamline the waste management sector. This will be through integration of urban waste with urban agriculture. Plastics, tyres, organic manure composting, waste water treatment.
- There will be increased indoor farming from using Hydroponics and aquaponics system technologies in our agricultural centers to demonstrate the easier way of producing food in households and communities using nutrient solutions.
NUAP will help shape and design Nairobi’s food policies. The project will inform agriculture and food systems experts on best ways to promote and regulate the Nairobi and other urban areas food systems
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
By 2050, The Nairobi urban agriculture Project (NUAP) envisions Nairobi with a disruptive, transformative and sustainable food system where the people produce and control their own food system. The project will positively impact my community’s livelihoods. Some of the transformations my vision will bring include:
1) Increased food Security and Improved Nutrition.
More households will be taught on space-intensive agriculture and enabled to adopt and practice it. This will contribute to more people having access to quality, safe and nutritious meals hence more people becoming food secure.
2) Reduced the Household Expenditure on Food: producing food in households and community gardens will specifically work to cushion the urban poor in Nairobi against financial demands and improve their livelihoods.
3) Improved diets and Public Health:Household production will ensure people uphold safety precautions in food production as well as grow nutritious food sufficient for their dietary needs and preferences.
4) Proper Urban Waste Management. NUAP will teach on waste sgregation and management at household level and how to integrate urban waste with urban agriculture thus reducing the amount of waste being produced in the city.
5) Increase in City Greening and food production.More food will be produced in the city increasing its sustainability and resilience. Greening will also improve the aesthetic value of the city and improve the atmosphere and environment.
6) Creation of Employment and Income. This will be achieved through employing youths who will work in the urban agriculture resource and information centers. Also the youth and women groups who undergo training from our resource centers will be helped to establish their own community gardens where they can sustainably produce crops for sale to nearby markets.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
community gardening by our project
Short video showing our urban agriculture resource and information center.
community children enjoying snacks after learning on kitchen garden and recycling plastics.
educating pupils on kitchen gardens in schools
hanging water culture hydroponic system at our UA Center.
community members being taught on deep water culture hydroponic system at our urban agriculture resource and information center
collecting waste tyres from Nairobi streets. the tyres are used to make our rounded vertical gardens.
feeding our community.
beautifying our community.
our urban agriculture community garden demo farm
teaching youth on the vision and mission of NUAP in our urban agriculture resource and information center.
ideal urban agriculture structures at our resource and information center. we aspire to maximize on production per unit area.
pupils learning about square-foot garden from our resource and information center.
setting up our community garden using recycled tyres.
during our pilot workshop to test the content and impact of our 6-units curriculum.
“If your plan is for one year, plant rice; If your plan is for 10 years, plant trees; If your plan is for 100 years, Educate the people and children.”
The Nairobi Urban Agriculture Project (NUAP) is an initiative which aims to transform urban livelihoods by ensuring food and nutritional security goals are achieved. This will be done through teaching, educating and sensitizing urban residents on how to practice urban agriculture. The project is geared towards raising the value of urban farming to become a major force in the Nairobi Metropolitan socio-economic transformation drive. NUAP is structured in a way to include all interested persons and professionals living in urban areas irrespective of age, gender, People living with disabilities, academic achievements and financial capacity.
The project is setting up Urban Agriculture Resource and Information centers across Nairobi County that will be designed as model extension farm where training, learning, research and information on urban farming can be offered to Nairobi city residents for household and community food production thus improving food security among the city dwellers and Kenyans at large by 2050.
The centers will be sustainable Urban Agriculture learning farms, with well-designed theoretical topics and modern and appropriate technologies for food production and processing and will contribute significantly to the spread of urban farming in Nairobi County. The project is therefore intended to raise the food and nutritional security levels in Kenya and improve livelihoods for urban families through upgrading the normal subsistence urban agriculture into a major driving force in poverty alleviation, employment and wealth creation, achieving zero hunger and overall Nairobi cosmopolitan development. Due to the limited space available for farming, Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture (UPA) requires innovative farming technologies to maximize production per unit area. These technologies utilize all available spaces including vertical spaces, roof tops/balcony gardening, green house farming, micro-gardening, hanging gardens, multi-storey gardens, community gardening in vacant lots and parks , kitchen garden, roadside urban fringe agriculture, sacks and container gardening as well as Hydroponic and Aquaponics farming systems among others.
With proper technology, farming can be done anywhere and therefore the project focuses on how people can utilize the limited spaces at their houses and in urban centers to produce food. If everyone in urban centers would engage in household farming, there will be increased food production which will contribute to achieving zero hunger. NUAP will facilitate Nairobi’s food security by encouraging, training and providing resources to urban residents to utilize the limited spaces they have at their homes to produce food primarily for HH consumption.
There has been documented urban agriculture practices in Nairobi that the urban poor use as a survival strategy and have thus taken to growing their own crops on vacant lands such as along railway lines, under power lines as well as riparian areas. In spite of the documented contribution of urban agriculture towards hunger and poverty alleviation, waste management and environmental conservation, many governments fail to encourage urban agriculture due to various reasons such as; fear of livestock spreading diseases, prevalence in malaria cases and perception that urban agriculture is temporary and transient activity in an urban setting. Increasingly, urban centers and cities are emerging as part of the solution to feeding a hungry planet. This is based on the fact that urban areas currently account for 55% of the world’s population and therefore one of the scalable solutions to the war against hunger lies in these cities. UNESCO declared the 20th century as the century of urbanization and city life and the urban population is projected to hit 70% by 2025. Nairobi is projected to hit a population of 14 million people by 2050 and going by the current trend, it will be a food desert. Therefore more people need to be empowered to venture into agriculture and be responsible for production of their own food and that of their communities.
Guided by our Motto; “Educate, Enable, Empower”, NUAP has already developed theory for teaching our community. There are 6 topics that are currently on a pilot phase to test their relevance and viability to an urban population. The 6 topics are;
1) Empowered World View:
Meant to transform the minds, hearts and pockets of community members. It helps people review their beliefs, values and perceptions and adopt an empowered world view. This is mostly important for the Nairobi population as most people view agriculture as a work for the rural populations and old people in villages. The topic is meant to change this perception.
2) Introduction to Urban Agriculture:
Introduces people to the meaning, principles, characteristics, types and different systems, units and technologies used in urban agriculture. The topic also educates on how we can integrate urban waste with urban agriculture by setting up vermicomposting systems and grey water treatment systems.
3) Horticulture (vegetables and herbs)
Urban Agriculture has a high degree of specialization in terms of crops that can be produced. Horticultural production (vegetables and herbs) is the most practiced. The topic describes how to grow the various indigenous vegetables that are high in nutrition and various herbs as well as their culinary use and medicinal properties.
4) Integrated Pest Management (IPM) & Organic Manure Formulation.
Our vision advocates for organic farming and therefore the unit aims to educate people on organic pesticides and manure formulations.
5) Hydroponic and Aquaponics farming systems.
The topic will introduce Nairobi residents to the different systems of hydroponic farming. We will also demonstrate on the integrated farming technology for the aquaponics system. All these systems are economic on space and are ideal for an urban setting.
5) Dairy Goats Breeding and Rearing:
Theory on dairy goat breeds, goat management and goat diseases and treatment taught to those interested in livestock. We settled on teaching dairy goats because they are economical on space, require less food and their milk is very nutritious compared to other livestock.
We are developing theory for poultry and rabbit rearing so as to also have a wider protein source for the Nairobi families and communities at large.
To achieve our vision for 2050, NUAP will also get into partnerships with other stakeholders and players involved in the agricultural industry. These include both national and county government's Ministries of Agriculture, work with agricultural research organizations, NGOs involved in livelihoods and schools in Nairobi that will use the resource centers for learning. The project will help to inform, formulate and enact better policies for urban agriculture. Nairobi being party to various international agreements such as the Millan Urban Food Policy Pact, the project will provide a roadmap in helping the city achieve the objectives of such treaties. The project is also in line with various overreaching goals among them being:
- SDG 2 (end hunger and achieve food security by 2030) and SDG 11 (Sustainable cities and communities)
- The constitution of Kenya article 43 (every Kenyan has a right to be free from hunger)
- Kenya’s Vision 2030 (food security for every Kenyan by 2030)
- The Big four agenda which is the country’s development framework (food security pillar)
- Nairobi County Integrated Development Plan (NCIDP 2022) Section 3.5.1 on Urban Agriculture.
"A time is coming when only those who know how to farm shall be the only ones eating"
The year is 2050: people from around the world are visiting Nairobi city for a bench-marking exercise on its food system. We have 85 urban agriculture resource and information centers spread across all the 85 wards of Nairobi county. More than one million city residents have been trained on household and community farming and are able to cultivate their own cops in households and vacant spaces. Everyone in the city is able to feed themselves with dignity as people are consuming fresh, safe,nutritious and healthy meals of their nutrition requirements and preferences. livelihoods in poor areas have improved as expenditure on food has greatly reduced. Nairobi Communities are living in serene environments with clean air and reduced wastes. there are advanced food production technologies allowing people to grow food in their houses and the government, with the help of NUAP has developed policies promoting urban agriculture and food security in Nairobi.
And by that time I will be 57 years old, and together with my team, we shall tell the whole world of how a group of young men and women from the slums of Nairobi, envisioned and developed a disruptive food system for Nairobi city. We shall tell of how this journey started, and we'll be moving out showing the rest of the world on how to feed this hungry planet. Cant wait for 2050!!!!!