Restoring Nairobi to “A Place of Cool Waters”
through a regenerative, transformative, human-centered food system
A food secure, healthy, environmentally friendly urban space, where all people live in harmony and peace in the spirit of "Ubuntu", by 2050.
By 2050, Nairobi city is restored to “a place of cool waters”- a food secure lush green environment in the backdrop of a peaceful atmosphere
Photo credit: Michelle Mbuthia, African Population and Health Research Center
Our Vision is to restore Nairobi to a “place of cool waters” that is food secure, healthy and environmentally friend through a regenerative, transformative, human-centered food system by 2050. We envision a food secure, well-nourished and healthy population, living in a green, clean and healthy environment, in peace and harmony in the spirit of "Ubuntu” in 2050. The Vision promotes human, social and cultural values through a human-rights based approach to development.
The Vision is driven by evidence of high levels of food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition - under-nutrition and over-nutrition - and consequent diet-related diseases attributable to poor access to adequate quantity of food for the urban poor and poor access to safe food of adequate quality across the social classes, amidst a degrading environment in Nairobi. Further the future of Kenya is projected to be urban by 2050, meaning a limited farming population in rural areas to supply adequate food to Nairobi. Nairobi’s population is projected to triple from 4.7 million today to 14 million by 2050, with majority projected to live in urban poor settings. This indicates a worsening situation of food security in Nairobi and environmental degradation if there is no action for a transformative and regenerative change. The time to act to make Nairobi a better place in 2050 is now, and we are passionate about leading this change!
The core of the Vision is to ensure self-reliance in acquisition of adequate, safe and nutritious food for all residents of Nairobi, through local production of foods. This will be majorly through promotion of kitchen gardening for all social groups, peri-urban-farming and cultivation on public spaces such as in schools and other idle land. Additionally, efficient linkages with rural food sources will complement the local food sources. Further, the Vision proposes efficient food use via local food preservation methods and surplus food rescue and repurposing to promote access for the most vulnerable in the spirit of Ubuntu. The vision will deploy innovative, regenerative, human-centered technologies and approaches, including, agro-ecological farming approaches and vertical food production to ensure adequate, safe and nutritious foods for the City residents. The Vision also promotes biocultural diversity through increasing Nairobi’s tree canopy with fruit trees which will help take care of the environment by greening the city landscapes. Further, the Vision creates an enormous opportunity for economic empowerment of the projected huge population in Nairobi, including women and youth, through agri-business, employing technological advances. Supportive structures to actualize the Vision include rigorous, policy relevant research, advocacy for policy and behavior change, and policy formulation and reform.
We call on Nairobi residents, the government, the private sector, the civil society, the research community and the donor community to fully support the Vision to fruition.
The Vision is narrated here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgbljsYhzGQ
Lead Applicant Organization Name
African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)
Lead Applicant Organization Type
If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.
Government (National): Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation, Ke;
Government (National): Ministry of Health, Ke;
Government (City): Nairobi City County, Ke;
Government (National): University of Nairobi, Ke;
Small private company: Val Partners, Ke;
Youth Organization: Mum Baby & Love; Mwengenye Lifestyle CBO; Komb Green; Ruben Center
National NGO: Peoples Health Movement (PHM), Ke;
Research Institution: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Nairobi, Ke;
Small NGO: Mazingira Institute, Nairobi, Ke;
Other: African Institute for Development Policy, Ke;
Other: University of Tsukuba, Japan;
Other: Loughborough University, UK;
Other: Dr Cristina Tirado, Sustainability Health-Education (SHE) Foundation; UCLA, USA;
Other: Ravic Nijbroek, CIAT, Ke;
Other: Route to Food Initiative, Ke;
Other: Paul Achar, Jade Communications, Ke;
Other: James Smart, Media Expert, Ke;
Other: TMG Research GmbH, Ke;
Other: The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, USA.
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, covers a total area of 696 km^2. Team members are deeply connected with Nairobi owing to work and stay.
What country is your selected Place located in?
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
Nairobi is our home!
The primary organization (APHRC), based in Nairobi, and the lead applicant (Dr. Kimani-Murage), who resides in Nairobi, have a special interest in the Place. They have widely documented its challenges over the last 20 years. Nairobi represents the special challenges that urban areas in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) face.
Dr. Kimani-Murage, who has resided in Nairobi for close to 20 years has a very special connection and longstanding experience with Nairobi. Her special interest in the urban poor space dates back over 20 years ago when she was a young undergraduate student. She interacted with a very poor family (a single mother and her two children) who lived in a shack in a slum in Eldoret town, Kenya. They lived destitute lives of merely balancing between life and death – They often slept hungry, used contaminated water and were often exposed to diseases of vulnerability. She often visited them in their shack, she took food to them...they became friends. (Watch video https://youtu.be/Ar8jBEY373o). Her experience with this family gave her a great impetus to work among the urban poor to promote justice for them. She has done many studies among Nairobi's urban poor and has documented different vulnerabilities of the urban poor - hunger, malnutrition, morbidity and mortality. She has widely published and engaged the urban poor on their experiences (http://orcid.org/0000-0001-5272-616X).
Our Partners are diverse but generally heavily invested in Nairobi. Several live and work in Nairobi and have a passion to make Nairobi a better place. Our international partners have a special interest in Nairobi, generally having worked in Nairobi in one way or the other. The various Community Organized Groups Members were generally born and raised in Nairobi. Their objective is to make Nairobi a better place! See their Videos https://youtu.be/YsBebwNM4sA ; https://youtu.be/aqs5T0sYu4E; https://youtu.be/Iglmcniyuj4
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.
Nairobi, where majority of the residents today live
Nairobi, the "place of cool waters" that we envision.
Map of Nairobi city and it's boundaries.
2050 Food System Vision for Nairobi in a narrative
This video documents APHRC's public engagement work on the right to food and food insecurity experiences in Nairobi slums that was conducted in 2018. It provides views from the Project lead, Dr. Elizabeth Kimani-Murage, community organized groups representatives and community participants on their understanding of food security and what should be done to improve it.
"Practicing urban farming doesn’t have to be an expensive affair, you can use tins if you lack the space to place sacks on the ground. This kind of farming also conserves water as the water tickles down from top to bottom."
Youth, Mukuru Kwa Reuben slum, Nairobi.
Photo credit: Photovoice participant-MukuruReuben/2018.
APHRC Right to Food Project.
"This flour is milled out of whole maize and it is very nutritious and affordable, way cheaper than store bought maize flour. If only people in the slum would embrace it, then this would make nutritious food more available in the household here."
Adults, Korogocho slums, Nairobi.
Photovoice credit: Photovoice participant-Korogocho/2018
Nairobi is often referred to as “the Green City in the Sun”, owing to its beautiful, green landscape. The city stands on a mix of rainforests and savannah grasslands. The city prides in an arboretum and an array of parks and open green spaces. The first inhabitants of Nairobi were the Maasai-speaking people. Incidentally, the name Nairobi comes from a Maasai word, “cool waters” in reference to the cold stream flowing through it.
Nairobi has legislated the preservation of a game park within the City, the Nairobi National Park that is home to wildlife, plains, cliffs and forests. This indicates the potential for Nairobi County preserve its natural resources to provide long-term benefits for its people.
Nairobi has a moderate climate that is favorable for agriculture. About four farming systems exist in the city: small-scale subsistence crop cultivation, small-scale livestock production, small-scale commercial crop cultivation and large scale commercial farming.
Nairobi is a regional economic hub in Africa, hence immense opportunities in terms of fostering economic growth, and enhancing employment prospects and income earning opportunities - all which can enhance access to food and improve food security for its people.
Despite all these great characteristics of Nairobi, on the flip side, due to rapid urbanization amidst poor planning, the City has witnessed proliferation of informal settlements (slums), where the majority (~ two-thirds) of the city’s population now lives. These slums are characterized by very poor livelihood opportunities and poverty, inadequate water and environmental sanitation, heightened personal insecurity, and high levels of morbidity and mortality among other challenges (APHRC 2002; 2014). Owing to pervasive poverty, and a reliance on purchased food, many households are food insecure (Kimani-Murage et al, 2014). (Watch documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiUrKBdHRCA&t=4s). Some who have no income earning opportunities resort to risky coping strategies such as crime, prostitution, child labor, and scavenging from dumpsites among others to obtain food. Others have adopted innovative practices such as urban farming (watch video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nm9aIR03lSQ).
Food vendors in Nairobi’s slums have to balance between earning a livelihood and maintaining food safety in the context of contaminated environments, poor drainage and sanitation, costly storage facilities, and unsafe water.
Given the weak purchasing power of many urban poor slum residents, the preference is for less nutritious, low cost, high energy dense, deep fried street foods. This explain the nutrition transition experienced by slum residents with higher consumption of high energy dense unhealthy foods and relatively low consumption of protective foods such as fruits and vegetables- contributing to the rise in a double burden of malnutrition, where under-nutrition coexists in the same space with obesity and diet related non-communicable diseases.
The “place of cool waters” is now generally a dirty, insecure and food insecure place where the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ are not in harmony due to high levels of inequality.
What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
The Food System for Nairobi faces a myriad of challenges in 2020 as well as in 2050. These include food insecurity, poor diets, malnutrition and diet related diseases across the socio-economic divide, poor water and sanitation and environmental degradation, high levels of inequality and insecurity. These are stipulated in this Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiUrKBdHRCA&t=4s) and outlined below.
Economic inequality and consequent high levels of poverty and food insecurity and malnutrition among Nairobi’s urban poor. Nairobi is characterized by high levels of inequality with majority (~60%) of residents in Nairobi living in informal settlements.
As a coping strategy, some people in Nairobi slums scavenge for food in dump sites. Watch Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxX0FMOh-_4
Poor diets, malnutrition including obesity and diet related diseases across the socio-economic divide with higher vulnerability among the urban poor. There is increasing triple burden of malnutrition in Nairobi across the socio-economic divide, with undernutrition, overweight and obesity and diet-related diseases becoming an important problem. There is a trend in unsafe foods due to harmful agricultural chemicals residue in foods in food markets.
High level of environmental pollution driven by poor garbage management, poor drainage and systems failure resulting in food safety and public health concerns particularly, for Nairobi’s urban poor residents. The high levels of environmental pollution in urban poor settings is of great concern to the residents, with concern that the government is not doing enough to avert. See Videos: https://youtu.be/aqs5T0sYu4E;
High levels of food waste and post-harvest food loss at local markets. Due to inefficient food storage, preservation, processing and distribution mechanisms, there is significant food waste at industrial, household and market levels.
Possible 2050 Challenges: Projections are that Nairobi’s population will triple from its current population of 4.7 million to about 14 million in 2050. This raises a huge potential problem of resilience of the food system, given that Nairobi almost entirely on food from rural sources.
Other Challenges: Another critical threat for 2050 food system is the trend in climate change due to increasing environmental degradation. This may result in less food production due to reduction in rainfall. Other emerging signals such as the COVID19 crisis, which is a result of environmental disruptions, have immense impacts on the food system in Nairobi.
References: Kimani-Murage, etal., 2014; Kimani-Murage, et al., 2015; Kimani-Murage, etal., 2019; van de Vijver et al. 2013; KDHS 2014; Muthuri et al. 2014; KEPHIS, 2018; Route to Food Initiative 2019; Muindi et al., 2017; Muindi et al. 2014.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
Food systems are complex systems with multiple non-linear (negative and positive) feedback loops between sub-systems. Some of the components that drive these feedback mechanisms include economy, environment, energy, technology among others. Our Vision offers a timely, revolutionary, transformative approach to ensure a sustainable urban food system in Nairobi, taking into consideration the complexity of the food system.
We envision a food system where people are supported to produce their food or are economically empowered to buy food; where available food is efficiently and equitably shared and managed to reduce food loss and environmental degradation; and where adequate, safe, quality and healthy food is secured for all.
The Vision seeks to make vital contributions in four main ways: improving diets; enhancing environmental sustainability; promoting economic security; and preserving human, social and cultural values.
Informed by the urbanization projections indicating the future of Kenya to be urban, and a big projected population in Nairobi in 2050, three times the current population, we aim to make Nairobi’s 2050 food system self-sustaining. We aim to ensure adequate, safe and nutritious food for all residents of Nairobi, while promoting protecting the environment and human, social and cultural values through a human-rights based approach to development to ensure social justice for all.
Given the complexity of the food security problem in Nairobi, driven by many factors, we propose a complex food system, with four core actions, and several supporting structures. The four core actions include: i) Agro-ecological local food production in Nairobi to promote food availability and access in Nairobi, while regenerating the environment and preserving human, social and cultural values; (ii) Food rescue, repurposing and redistribution system to reduce food loss and promote access for vulnerable groups while protecting the environment; (iii) efficient rural-urban linkages to rural food sources; (iv) Economic empowerment through agribusiness to promote access to food, thereby promoting social justice. The core supportive structures include: i) Research, evaluation and re-evaluation of the food system to inform implementation and evidence-based policies (i) Supportive policy framework; (ii) Advocacy for policy change and reform, and behavior change at the population level; (iv) Capacity development for technology and to empower youth and women to participate in agri-business.
Our Three Year Plan
Our 3 key milestone for the first 3 years include network building, fund raising and partnerships for the vision and public engagement, formative research and pilot implementation.
Our Ten Year Plan
In the next 10 years, we will kick off the core aspects of the Vision and move quickly to scale, employing learning from the three-year strategy and pilot phase. We envision a lot of continued network building and fundraising to implement the Vision.
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.
Our Vision is to restore Nairobi to a “place of cool waters” through a regenerative, transformative, human-rights based food system by 2050.
By 2030, in line with sustainable development goals, no one will be hungry in Nairobi; by 2050, Nairobi will be a serene, socially just urban space that is food secure, healthy, environmentally friendly; where people live in harmony and peace with each other in the spirit of "Ubuntu" (I am because we are), & with their environment.
We envision a food system: (i) where food is adequate, nutritious & safe; (ii) where food distribution is efficient & equitable - where food is shared between the haves & the have nots, & surplus food efficiently & equitably distributed - hence reduced food loss; (ii) where the urban poor are economically empowered to feed themselves in dignity; (iii) where the built environment is safe, friendly & optimized for healthy living for all people in line with Nairobi’s longstanding commitment to preserve the natural environment; and, (iv) where smallholder urban farmers are supported to optimize food production & address food insecurity for themselves & others.
The envisioned food system, that encourages food sharing & harmony between the haves and the have not, that economically empowers the urban poor, & encourages celebration of diverse food cultures, has the ability to transform the lives of all residents of Nairobi and restore sustainable peace. On the one hand, the system will transform a previously restricted poor population into a dignified, economically empowered, food secure population, aware of their responsibilities in conserving & protecting their environment, & that appreciates & respects the privileged in the society; while on the other hand the system will provide an opportunity for sharing of excess food by the more privileged sections of the society with the less privileged, thereby promoting the spirit of “Ubuntu” hence a compassionate & peaceful co-existence and respect for humanity.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
The author's experience with an urban poor family living in hunger many years ago, that stimulated the Vision
2050 Food System Vision for Nairobi Visually
A day in the life of Omondi in 2050, currently an urban poor child aged 8 years living in one of Nairobi slums - Page 1.
A day in the life of Omondi in 2050, currently an urban poor child aged 8 years living in one of Nairobi slums - Page 2.
A day in the life of Omondi in 2050, currently an urban poor child aged 8 years living in one of Nairobi slums - Page 3.
A day in the life of Omondi in 2050, currently an urban poor child aged 8 years living in one of Nairobi slums - Page 4.
Nairobi slum, where majority of Nairobi residents live today
Nairobi, "a place of cool waters" that we envision
“Vendors go to the market and bring these parts of the fish, after the fillet has been removed the bones is what he brings. They are dried in the open air on an open metallic bed. If you want to flavor your food and you cannot afford fish, this is what you buy and make soup to flavor your food. It is unhygienic and full of flies”
Youth- Korogocho slums , Nairobi
Photo credit: Photovoice participant-Korogocho/2018.
APHRC Right to Food Project
"If you want fresh, good healthy vegetables, they are found in the slums but it means that you have to pay a little bit more than the regular people." Youth, Kibera slums, Nairobi. Photo credit: Photovoice participant-Kibera/2018. APHRC Right to Food Project.
"If you look at this place, is it really a place that food should be sold from? The place is full of dirt and there is a ditch where sewer water is passing through. Most of the time, this food is contaminated but it’s still sold either way."
Adult, Korogocho slum, Nairobi.
Photo credit: Photovoice participant-Korogocho/2018.
APHRC Right to Food Project.
"There are times when you find that the market has food in plenty; there are times when the vendors throw away food because it is going bad. However, plenty of food in the market doesn’t mean that there is food at home."
Youth, Dandora slums, Nairobi.
Photo credit: Photovoice participant-Dandora/2018.
APHRC Right to Food Project.
"Because we lack modern ways of preserving food like refrigeration, we have to look for other methods like smoking and drying our foods to ensure they do not go bad..."
Adults, Dandora slum, Nairobi.
Photo credit: Photovoice participant-Dandora/2018.
APHRC Right to Food Project.
“…the river is always overflowing with sewer water and garbage. This is the same water that is used to irrigate vegetables that are either eaten at home or sold to customers in the communities”
Adults- Mukuru Kwa Ruben slum, Nairobi.
Photo credit: Photovoice participant-Mukuru/2018.
APHRC Right to Food Project
“Many children are left at home without food or just a cup of porridge for the whole day. It is not a surprise to find young children taking care of their siblings as their parents, mostly mothers, go out to look for money to sustain the family. Malnutrition among children is very high in the slum”
Mothers- Mukuru Kwa Ruben, Nairobi.
Photo credit: Photovoice participant- Mukuru-Ruben/2018
Photo credit: Photovoice participant- Mukuru-Ruben/2018.
APHRC Right to Food Project.
"Urban farming can be use to solve the problem of accessibility to good healthy food if the vegetables are planted with clean and no sewer water. This means that the residents in the slum will be able to access good healthy vegetables."
Photo credit: Photovoice participant-Korogocho/2018.
Youth, Korogocho slums, Nairobi.
APHRC Right to Food Project
This is a moving narration of how some poor urban residents cope with food insecurity. They either make a living selling the food and products they scavenge from the Dandora dumpsite in Nairobi or eat the food themselves disregarding (out of lack of choice) the safety and health challenges that accompany this risky practice.
This is a compelling positive story of a young urban resident's experiences with food insecurity and poverty in a Nairobi slum. He takes us through his desire to get out of this poverty trap and improve his own circumstances, that of his family and the community through engaging in urban agriculture. This practice now provides him with income from the sale of produce from the farm, and food for his subsistence. He is grateful to a local community organized group for training himself and others
We envision a transformative environment-friendly and sustainable urban food system, that is people-centered and promotes the spirit of "Ubuntu" (I am because we are), harmony and peace in the urban space. The system, which will employ local solutions to food security problems and work with Community Organized Groups/grassroots organizations, will be based on a multi-pronged approach and managed through an efficient state-of-the-art information communication technology (ICT) system. The vision entails local production of food, efficient and equitable food distribution, food sharing between the haves and the have nots and philanthropy to promote the right to food for the urban poor. The haves will be incentivised to join the vision through philanthropy by a promise of a cleaner nicer place to live in, alongside social responsibility in the spirit of “Ubuntu”. The specific strategies include:
Establishment of a robust network of actors in the promotion of food security in Nairobi. This network would become a movement leading social activism towards the realization of the right to food for Nairobi residents.
Efficient and equitable food rescue and redistribution to reduce food loss, and philanthropy in the spirit of Ubuntu to promote access to food for the urban poor.
Efficient distribution of food from rural areas to enhance affordable food access in urban areas.
Small-holder urban and peri-urban farming in farmable spaces (including any idle land to enhance availability and access to safe and nutritious food. This will encourage participation of youth groups and women groups in urban areas.
Innovative technology that encourages local preservation and safe storage methods to enhance safety and reduce food loss at food markets.
Promotion of safe and healthy diets through public engagement to reduce all forms of malnutrition and diet-related diseases.
Economic empowerment of urban poor residents, particularly through youth and women empowerment to enhance food access.
Environmental conservation through proper waste management and drainage, and conservation urban agriculture that promotes enhanced planting of fruit trees; food loss reduction and food waste recycling.
Promotion of diverse local food cultures, celebrated in an annual all-inclusive food festival.
Apply a rights-based approach to food security. Civic education on the constitutional right to food and building skills of right-holders in advocacy to demand their rights; educate duty bearers including community leaders to respect the right; and policy engagement and advocacy for policy implementation and reform.
Our vision integrates the different strategies outlined above through six interconnected themes: Environment, Diets, Economics, Culture, Technology, and Policy.
We envision an urban food system that protects, conserves and regenerates the environment.
Globally, about 30 percent of food intended for human consumption is lost or wasted (FAO, 2011). This food loss/waste must be stopped because wasted food has far-reaching environmental consequences: decomposing food waste produces methane, a strong greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming (Hall, et al., 2009). Moreover, wasting food wastes all the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it. Thus, reducing food losses and wastage is a key strategy for tackling climate change and conserving the environment (Hecht & Neff, 2019).
Through a food rescue and redistribution system, we aim to protect and sustain the environment. Various food handling establishments often experience food excesses that go to waste. Food processing factories and food exporters often reject food items not meeting the perfect market or export standards, yet it is safe for consumption. Similarly, supermarkets and hotels at times have nowhere to take food whose shelf-life is threatened and end up disposing it. Additionally, affluent households may have food excesses that could be shared with poor households. All of these sources provide food that could be targeted and redistributed to an urban poor population directly or after repurposing to extend the shelf-life. A food rescue and redistribution system through an ICT platform will promote equitable access to food and reduce food wastage, thereby protecting environmental degradation.
Urban food production/farming will be done through conservation agriculture and innovative urban agriculture models. We envisage an environment-friendly urban and peri-urban smallholder food production system based on principles of conservation agriculture promoted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO, 2017). Furthermore, we envision the application of innovative urban agriculture models that are adaptable to the increased unpredictability of rainfall and climate change.
The population of Nairobi, which currently stands at 4.4 million, is expected to hit 14 million people by 2050 (Hoornweg & Pope, 2016), thereby increasing pressure on household food quality and quantity. Currently, in the city’s informal settlements, about 80% of households experience food insecurity, close to 50% of children are stunted, 33% of women of reproductive age are underweight, and only 23% of households consume an adequately diverse diet (KNBS, 2014). Our revolutionary urban food system that includes small holder urban farming of protective foods including fruits and vegetables and fish, food rescue and redistribution, and optimizing food distribution from rural areas will reverse this situation by ensuring greater diversity of food sources, access to affordable, healthy and nourishing foods for all, thereby ending all forms of hunger, achieving household food security and dietary diversity and improving nutrition status in line with the second goal of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The food system will generate direct and indirect employment opportunities along the value chains, particularly for women and youth, and contribute towards income generation and economic empowerment of these groups and their households. Hunger, joblessness and poverty are some of the major drivers of insecurity in informal settlements, and the wider Nairobi. Thus, creating jobs for youth in these settings through agribusiness will reduce crime rates and create a friendly and peaceful urban environment. Food rescue and redistribution will reduce the economic losses associated with food wastage. Evidence shows that a food rescue program has a positive return on investment (ROI). For example, one study found that the program ROI was four times greater than the operation and start-up costs (Cicatiello, et al., 2016). A study in Australia found that for every USD spent on food rescue, $5.71 worth of food was rescued, and that the cost of operating a food rescue initiative was lower than direct food purchasing (Reynolds, et al., 2015).
High levels of food insecurity among slum dwellers have forced households into coping strategies such as scavenging for food in dumpsites and consuming low-quality foods (APHRC, 2019), posing grave health risks. The proposed food system will increase economic productivity through improving the health and nutritional status of the population, thanks to improved access to affordable, safe and healthy food. Urban and peri-urban food productivity will be optimised through research and innovation.
Profitable business models, involving the private sector and community organized groups will be encouraged for sustainability of initiatives.
The food system will leverage state-of-the-art technology to optimise efficiency, effectiveness and to reduce wastage. First, an innovations and knowledge transfer hub for designing, testing and demonstrating innovations in urban farming and food processing and repurposing techniques will be set up. Innovations developed through this hub will be transferred to community-organized groups through deliberate capacity building actions. Secondly, the urban food system will be managed through a mobile phone-based information technology system that will enhance efficiency in the logistics and facilitate linkage of the food supply and demand sides.
Food systems and culture constantly shape each other (Counihan & Esterik, 2013). For instance, food taboos, religion and cultural perceptions towards certain foods influence dietary intake. On the other hand, food environment changes how people make food choices and how they access, prepare and consume food. With this in mind, we envision a food system that will be responsive to the cultural and religious identities of the people in the target area. Public engagement on food and food cultures will ensure the system is community-rooted. The system will be all-inclusive, with the full participation of youth, women and people of diverse cultural and economic standing.
An annual food festival will be held around the World Food Day (16th October) - bringing together residents from different parts of Nairobi to share and celebrate food and different food cultures.
The vision is in line with the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact http://www.milanurbanfoodpolicypact.org/. It is also in line with the Nairobi City County urban food legislation and policy that promotes the inclusion of urban agriculture in the county physical planning. The vision is also in line with the National Food and Nutrition Policy, which includes the four dimensions of food security: availability, accessibility, stability, and meeting nutritional requirements. However, with the projected expansion of the population of Nairobi by 2050, revising and updating government policies is essential to guarantee the right to food for all. Policymakers at national and county levels will continually be engaged to review, develop and implement relevant policies that are responsive to urban food security, ensuring equitable access to safe and nutritious food, especially for the poor.
How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?
Describe how your Vision developed over the course of the Refinement Phase.
The process of refining the Vision was awesome despite COVID19 limitations! The Vision underwent several modifications. This was greatly informed by guidance from the Vision Prize Team via the various Webinars, refinement Tool Kit and other resources. It was also heavily informed by insights from the different stakeholders we engaged in the course of the refinement period.
While the core of the Vision did not change, the specifics were refined in accordance with the guidance received, to make the Vision sharper, more feasible, more impactful and more inspiring.
The Vision was refined via a rigorous co-creation process. At the beginning of the refinement process, we did a thorough stakeholder mapping exercise. We then engaged the different stakeholders via online meetings and online document reviews. We also engaged the general public via social media and online survey to help refine the vision.
The partnership to the Vision changed, with close to 10 new partners joining the Vision.
Please provide the names of all organizations you meaningfully partnered with to develop this latest version of your Vision (they contributed at least 10 hours of time to the Vision development during the Refinement Phase).
National Government Ministries (Health & Agriculture)
Nairobi County Government
Community Based Organizations
Mum Baby and Love
Komb Green Solutions
Research Organizations/Universities/Think Tanks/Experts
University of Nairobi
African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP)
World Agroforestry (ICRAF)
Tsukuba University, Japan
Loughborough University, UK
TMG Research GmbH
Cristina Tirado, Expert - Science & policy on climate change, health, food & sustainable development with UCLA, UN, governments & NGOs worldwide.
Advocacy Groups/Civil Society/ Private Companies
Route to Food Initiative
People’s Health Movement
Noah Mukono – Visualization Artist
Other Key Partners
Nairobi County Assembly (MCA)
CBOs/Youth & Women Groups
James Smart (Media Activist)
The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation
Describe the specific steps you took during the Refinement phase to include different stakeholders to develop your Vision, including a description (age, profile, and total number) of the stakeholders engaged, and how you engaged with each.
We mapped the stakeholder and engaged them as outlined below. Engagements were virtual due to COVID-19. We significantly engaged about 30 groups/individuals: policy makers, research/academia, topical experts, community organized groups, civil society, private companies, & communication & media experts. We also engaged about 50 public members via online survey.
We engaged the stakeholders in a series of virtual consultative meetings, both individually and in groups. We went through the core aspects of the Vision and the stakeholders gave their views for the refinement. We also discussed the potential role of each stakeholder in the implementation of the Vision. We also established core working groups to actually draft/refine the Vision on paper.
The age ranged between 25 & 60 years, and constituted men and women with key expertise/experience in the aspects of the vision.
We formed various working groups based on the interests & expertise/experience of the stakeholders. The groups drafted/refined the various sections of the Vision, holding further virtual meetings and working on documents through online platforms e.g. Google Docs. The outputs of the working groups were reviewed by Vision Team Leader and shared with the larger stakeholder team for final review.
The age range for the groups’ members was 25 to 60 years, and balanced between men and women.
Engagement with the wider public
We engaged the wider public via an online survey form with quantitative and qualitative questions on core aspects of the Vision, including general views, possible enablers and challenges. The form, including the link to the Vision were shared publicly on social media platforms.
The age range was 18 to 60 years, majority below 40 years, balanced between men & women. All lived in urban areas, 90% in Nairobi, and were in middle class. The survey somehow left out the poorest, but we had heavily engaged this group at the open submission stage.
What signals and trends did you draw from to inform your Vision? Please provide data or examples that back up each signal or trend.
Social, Economic & Political
The UN population estimates projects that the world will be more urban (68%) than rural in 2050, with majority of urban growth projected to be in Africa and Asia. Nairobi is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa, with an annual growth rate of 3.8%. The current (2020) population of Nairobi (4.7 million) is estimated to increase to 14 million by 2050 (UNDESA, 2019), with majority settling in urban slums. According to the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2018 (https://bit.ly/2Tu4TnF), one in three Kenyans is severely food insecure. Nairobi is not spared, with close to 80% of households in slums being food insecure (Kimani-Murage et al.2014). About 21% of children under 5 years in Nairobi and close to 50% of those in slums are stunted, while half of Nairobi adult women and a third of those in slums are obese or overweight (Kimani-Murage et al., 2015).
Rise in diet-related diseases in Kenya has resulted in development of policies to promote healthy diets, and local production of safe foods in Nairobi (http://www.fao.org/3/a-i6484e.pdf ).
Post-harvest food loss in Kenya is between 30-75% (GoK, 2010), indicating need for optimal supply chain management, food preservation and a food rescue system.
Kenya’s temperature is projected to increase by 2.3ºC by 2050 (Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture 2018-2027). Local reports indicate a trend in unsafe foods due to harmful agricultural chemicals residue in foods in Nairobi food markets (KEPHIS, 2018), with a signal for demand for organic foods produced in Nairobi.
COVID19, driven by possible disruptions in the environment and human and animal relationships, is a driver of possible food system change. The experience in Nairobi indicates need for local food production in areas where people are most vulnerable.
Innovative urban farming including urban rooftop farming (URF) and integrated closed aquaculture systems with vertical gardens using hydroponics have been introduced in some cities to address food insecurity in urban areas and reduce environmental impacts (Orsini, et al, 2014). There is a signal towards such innovations in Africa, including Nairobi. AgriFood Tech (https://bit.ly/3bX4BMw) is also projected to provide efficiency, hence improve economics in agribusiness.
Our 2050 Vision
Our food system vision aims to ensure sustainable and healthy diets for increased 2050 population in Nairobi, while protecting the environment through the establishment of innovative organic urban farming, recirculating aquaculture, food waste reduction and reuse in line with the circular economy. This will be supported by an Ubuntu inspired Food Council that promotes short food chains, healthy food markets, sustainable urban public food procurement and food purchasing programs (e.g. from schools from small local agro-ecological farmers. (http://www.fao.org/3/i9037en/i9037en.pdf).
Describe a “Day in the Life” of a key food system actor within your food system in 2050 (e.g., farmer, chef, supply chain actor, food policy actor, etc.).
A day in the life of Omondi in 2050, currently an urban poor child aged 8 years living in one of Nairobi slums - Page 1.
A day in the life of Omondi in 2050, currently an urban poor child aged 8 years living in one of Nairobi slums - Page 2.
A day in the life of Omondi in 2050, currently an urban poor child aged 8 years living in one of Nairobi slums - Page 3.
A day in the life of Omondi in 2050, currently an urban poor child aged 8 years living in one of Nairobi slums - Page 4.
Omondi is a member of an urban farming youth group (The Greens). He’s 38 years & lives with his wife & two children in Mukuru in Nairobi, an upgraded settlement once a slum where he lived 30 years ago. He & his group farm in a nearby community farm for a living.
When Omondi wakes up, he takes a hot shower (thanks to solar energy). His breakfast usually consists of a diverse diet of locally produced safe & nutritious organic starches, vegetables, fruits & fish or poultry. He thanks God to afford to feed his family such a healthy meal. When he was growing up, food was limited & said to be contaminated with harmful agricultural chemicals, in a degraded environment.
After breakfast he walks to the community farm via a relaxing path, beatified with fruit trees, as he meditates & reflects on how life has changed since he was a boy. The Greens attend the farm & sell farm produce to food vendors & neighbors. They maximize yields & efficiency via innovative approaches like vertical gardening, hydroponics, aquaponics & use of Agro Tech. Omondi enjoys farming & taking care of his community via food provision, He’s happy nobody in his community lacks food unlike when he was growing up when his family & neighbors often starved. He remembers the dark period when COVID19 ravaged the City. His parents, then casual laborers, lost their jobs. There was limited food supply from rural areas & hiked food prices. They slept hungry for many days. He vows to never see his family or his neighbors go via such an ordeal.
Managing the farm is not easy for The Greens, but they’re able to overcome the challenges as they keep appraised with new knowledge & technology, thanks to the urban farming training hub.
When Omondi resigns to bed after the day’s work, he’s happy. He & his family thank God for the change that has occurred in their community over the years. He’s happy that his family is food secure & self-reliant, & that he’s also able to promote food security in his community.
Environment | How will your food system of 2050 adapt to climate change and remain resilient?
Food systems exhibit a bidirectional relationship with climate change. They are highly vulnerable to climate change: e.g., increased heat and water stress is expected to decrease yields and nutritional quality of food and alter where food can be produced (Fanzo, et al., 2018). But they also aggravate climate change, contributing 19–29% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG emissions) (Vermeulen, et al., 2012). Climate change affects the entire food supply chain from production to home preparation and consumption. Thus, we will use a food supply chain framework to design a more climate-proof system that adapts to climate change and mitigates its impacts.
Urban farming will follow the principles of regenerative and agroecological family and community-based agriculture. In peri-urban areas with significant agricultural land, mixed tree-crop-livestock systems will minimize climate change impacts on yields and improve dietary diversity and food quality. This will reduce resource depletion and environmental fluxes to the atmosphere and hydrosphere and increase system flexibility to cope with socioeconomic and climate variability (Thornton, et al., 2015). Critical resilience to climate shocks will come from trees, which will restore Nairobi’s damaged natural ecosystem and provide fertile soil, forage for pollinators, livestock fodder, yearlong fruit, and water regulation. Faster maturing and more pest and drought resistant crop seeds will shorten growing seasons and reduce chemical inputs. Agroecological small-scale urban farming will restore urban and peri-urban ecosystems, while larger-scale urban agriculture such as vertical gardens, aeroponics, hydroponics and aquaponics will resist climate shocks by relying less on the external environment and using less land and water. Climate change and forest/land degradation on Nairobi’s watershed is increasing city flooding and water scarcity. Greater vegetation/tree cover will increase percolation into groundwater and replenish boreholes. Rainwater will be harvested and stored in underground tanks, and household grey water directed to farming after treatment. Mulching and permaculture practices like swales will increase rainwater use efficiency. There will be adequate safe water for irrigation in dry seasons. Yields will be maximized with organic fertilizer. Household and food waste will be segregated for innovative bio-waste processing such as black soldier fly larvae technology and worm composting. The system will sequester above and below ground carbon and reclaim degraded land such as riverbanks, quarries and dumpsites, mitigating climate change (Neate, 2013). Fruit trees and vegetables in school playgrounds, idle spaces in urban-poor settings, and upmarket homes will improve food security and increase vegetation cover and tree canopy, which will combat the urban heat island effect. Vacant spaces in schools will be used, ensuring sustainability as children take learnings home.
Food storage, processing and distribution
To reduce litter and plastic pollution, food will be packaged in biodegradable material. Alternative processing techniques that increase food stability, e.g., solar drying, will replace fossil fuel intensive cold storage. The system will adopt food storage techniques that reduce food waste and risk of food-borne pathogens and mycotoxins which are expected to increase with climate change. Food distribution trucks will be powered using solar and electric energy. A waste-for-energy plant will be set up to convert human and non-compostable waste into electric energy to power agro-processing and the city. This will release dumpsite land for farming. Safe food that is destined for disposal by food processing factories, exporters, supermarkets, hotels and households will be rescued and redistributed to where it is most needed through efficient ICT platforms, to reduce food waste and further reduce GHG emissions from decomposing waste.
We will pursue policies and awareness campaigns in favour of plant-based foods and moderate animal source foods consumption to reduce GHG. Energy-efficient food preparation will be promoted in households. Additionally, sale of pre-cooked nutritious foods will enhance consumption of convenient but nutritious foods, and conserve energy.
Financing, risk management, and social services
Farmers will be protected from farm losses and price fluctuations through income diversification. An improved early warning system for extreme weather events and long-term shifts in temperature and precipitation will be set up. Modeling and geographic information systems will predict weather and soil conditions, information that will be used to modify planting, harvest and irrigation schedules. Social protection, such as public works, cash transfers, food vouchers, and school meals will cushion the socially disadvantaged.
Diets | How will your food system of 2050 address malnutrition in all its forms (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, metabolic disease) for the people living there?
The 2050 projections predicting high rate of urbanization indicate a point of concern with regards to diets for Nairobi residents. Currently, about 21% of children under 5 years in Nairobi and close to 50% of those in Nairobi slums are stunted (Kimani-Murage et al., 2015), while a fifth (21%) of school going children in Nairobi are overweight or obese. (Muthuri et al. 2014). In addition, about half (48%) of Nairobi women (KDHS 2014) and 32% of those in Nairobi informal settings are obese or overweight (Kimani-Murage et al., 2015). Further, evidence indicates a trend in unsafe foods due to harmful agricultural chemicals residue in foods in Nairobi food markets (KEPHIS, 2018; Route to Food Initiative 2019), and a rising rate of diet-related diseases (Ministry of Health, 2015).
These observations coupled with the urbanization projections indicate need for a food systems that maximizes on self-reliance of the urban population with regards to food security – ensuring adequate, safe, and nutritious foods locally.
We envision actualization of the right to food as in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Kenya’s Constitution. We will build on the multi-pronged approach proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) on food systems for promoting and providing healthy, safe and sustainable diets (WHO, 2016). The approach proposes measures to address the current burden of malnutrition through enhancement of the four pillars of food security as detailed below.
- Food availability- A core approach in the food system is maximizing self-reliance in access to safe nutritious foods including fruits, vegetables, herbs and small livestock including fish, rabbits and poultry in the City. The system will promote innovative, organic, kitchen gardening in households across the socio-economic divide; and in other available spaces including school compounds, idle land, and in peri-urban areas; in line with Nairobi City County Food Security Strategy and the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (http://www.milanurbanfoodpolicypact.org/), which Kenya is party to. We will partner with organizations like Kigali Farms (http://www.kigalifarms.com/) to grow nutritious foods like mushrooms, Fruit Trees Planting Foundation (https://www.ftpf.org/) and ICRAF to grow fruit trees. We will also optimize food supply from rural areas through the digital models which link rural farmers with food vendors in Nairobi.
- Food access - Increasing food availability through local production and efficient supply from rural areas will facilitate food access. In addition, we will adopt innovative processing and local preservation technologies to reduce food wastage. A food rescue mechanism will be established to rescue surplus food from farms, industries, export markets; process to re-purpose; and redistribute it to where it is needed including to school feeding programs and to vulnerable households. Further, the economic empowerment of youth and women through and agribusiness will enhance financial access to foods by low income families.
- Food utilization - Enhancing food availability through local production and efficient linkages with rural sources will ensure greater diversity of food sources, and access to affordable, healthy and nourishing foods for all. Interventions to promote appropriate garbage management, drainage and water systems, water and food hygiene, and promotion of organic farming and food safety monitoring measures will address the challenges to food safety in the city. Public engagement and advocacy approaches supported by policies will create awareness on optimal nutritional practices, food safety and dietary diversity for all, including promoting optimal breastfeeding & complementary feeding, micro-nutrient supplementation for children to address malnutrition and advocacy for food fortification to enhance diets for all. Advocacy through the Civil Society and the Media will be used to champion for the formulation or enforcement of policies, guidelines and regulations for enhanced biological, physical and chemical food safety measures and sharpened awareness raising on diets and water safety. The vision embraces use of digital technology health promotion for efficiency, working with technology partners e.g. Val Partners.
- Food stability - The approaches to promote innovative and resilient urban farming, optimize the distribution of food from rural areas, and surplus food rescue, preservation, repurposing and redistribution to where it is needed the most will largely address the challenge of intermittent availability of food supply for urban dwellers. Farming will include drought-resistant foods. Capacity building will be provided for food vendors on low cost but efficient food preservation methods such as drying fish and preserving freshness of vegetables using solar power. This will address the challenge of food losses whilst enhancing food availability even when such foods are out of season.
Economics | Where and what will the jobs be that support living wages in your future food system of 2050, and how will these jobs impact gender equality?
Our food system upholds human and social values, taking into consideration projected urbanization by 2050 to create jobs for women and youth. While Agriculture currently contributes 34% of the GDP in Kenya (https://bit.ly/2ZOzZdN), the projected urbanization in 2050 puts the place of economic gains from agriculture at risk. The core idea in our food system; innovative agroecological urban farming coupled with surplus food rescue, repurposing and redistribution is revolutionary. It has an amazing potential to sustain the importance of agriculture in Kenya despite projected urbanization and become a sustainable commercial enterprise, creating jobs for numerous low-income people particularly youth and women in Nairobi, organized as groups to maximize gains. This is key as high levels of unemployment are reported in Nairobi, with 60% living in slums (KNBS, 2019). The idea of innovative organic urban farming and branding of the organic foods for greater visibility is a gold mine, given the current indications of demand for healthy diets amidst a trend in unsafe foods with harmful agricultural chemicals from rural areas in Nairobi markets (KEPHIS, 2018; Route to Food Initiative 2019).
There is a local current trend in engagement of youth and women in agro-enterprise in urban areas on a small scale (Lado, 1990). This presents an opportunity for greater economic empowerment of the youth and women through the food system (Tsuchiya, et al., 2015). The food vision will create jobs and income through agribusiness particularly for youth and women groups in low income settings in Nairobi. These jobs include farming, casual labor for farming, food transportation, food vending, labor at the food processing and repurposing centers, and food distribution. Employing AgriFood Tech (https://bit.ly/3bX4BMw) will promote efficiency, hence improve economics in agribusiness.
Youth and women groups will be supported to undertake innovative organic urban farming in idle land and peri-urban areas for commercial purposes. The produce will be branded for greater visibility and sold to others including in up-market areas, supermarkets and schools. Youth groups will also be supported to provide innovative urban farming services to residents in upmarket or peri-urban areas. Another part of livelihoods will be a green waste recycling system to provide organic manure for the organic urban farming. Raw organic material sourced from market waste, food waste from households, hotels, restaurants and schools will be composted into manure and commercially distributed to the farms.
Youth and women groups will actively and commercially participate in the surplus food rescue, repurposing and redistribution food chain for sustainability of the sub-system. The idea of food rescue system has a great potential to make available clean food that would otherwise be sought from garbage dumps by poor community members, thereby providing food to the poor in a more dignified way at a negligible cost and creating jobs. For the most vulnerable groups, this system will provide food as pay for work done, thereby ensuring sustainability.
The food supply linkage between rural areas and Nairobi will create an opportunity for ICT technology that will also create job opportunities in the management of the system. Efficiency in the system will provide cost savings.
The success of the food system will create demand for professionals in other related sectors. The system will create job opportunities for food scientists, dieticians and nutritionists, health experts, researchers, policy experts, environmentalists, experts in IT and technology and sociologists.
On other larger farming spaces realized, this vision seeks to be intentional in utilizing modern technologies that maximize production while observing minimal production costs through efficient use of space, water, nutrients and recycling. As this farming land is quite proximal to urban centers, the system will establish markets for high value-short farm time fruits and vegetables that are fast movers in the urban markets (Tsuchiya, et al., 2015).
The Vision gives life to microfinance opportunities for the youth and women groups for example the youth and women enterprise fund (Omondi, 2018; Lagat, et al., 2014). provided by the government of Kenya. This a loan facility that is available to women and youth groups and is unlimited to what entrepreneurial activity it can be used for. Youth and women groups will be facilitated to access such facilities for greater economic productivity.
Culture | How will your 2050 food system ensure that the cultural, spiritual and community traditions and/or practices in your Place flourish?
Our 2050 food system Vision for Nairobi promotes, human and social values and community sovereignty, recognizing the central role of human rights, community cultures, traditions, spirituality and practices. It will promote biocultural diversity in the city landscapes through agroecological urban farming. The Vision promotes the African culture of farming despite projected urbanization that will see the future of Africa being more urban than rural. While currently farming in Africa happens in rural areas, this Vision proposes innovative urban farming to align with the 2050 urbanizations projections. Further, the Vision promotes the African philosophy of Ubuntu (I am because we are) to ensure no one is left behind.
Although the food system will employ innovative modern technologies and approaches to maximize productivity in the limited space available in the urban areas, the human-centered approach will ensure that the cultures, traditions, spirituality and aspirations of the community are preserved. Continuous community/public engagement in the development of the food system and respect for community views will promote community sovereignty. The community is strongly part of the vision, through their contribution to the Vision based on their active engagement in the last two years. Further, the Vision will majorly be implemented through community based organizations including youth and women groups – who are strongly represented in the partnerships formed in the Vision. This ensures the community voice and choices are respected and promoted, hence promotion of community sovereignty.
The food system will promote biocultural diversity through promoting indigenous trees, fruit trees, herbs, spices and medicinal plants and food crops. This will ensure that our cultural heritage in the use and adoration of these plants blossom. The promotion of farming and consumption of traditionally indigenous cultural foods is in line with the observed trends towards preference for traditional diets. This is based on their current known health benefits, increasing awareness creation and acceptability as well as their resilience to soil and weather conditions in the face of increasing climate change. Farming and consumption of these foods is expected to be the new norm in 2050.
The promotion of the spirit of Ubuntu, whereby one’s sense of self is shaped by his/her relationships with other people will ensure preservation of the community’s social fabric. In the African culture, people embrace sharing of food, and nobody should have to starve while their neighbor has food. However, urbanization and capitalism have slowly eroded this spirit, creating high levels of inequality and social evils including stealing to sustain one’s life particularly in the urban areas. The 2050 urbanization projections can only worsen the situation if we do not act now. The food system will rebuild the culture of Ubuntu and promote a caring, peaceful and more cohesive society in the urban setting.
As part of promoting cultural heritage, the food system will also involve annual food festivities celebrating food from a cultural perspective around the World Food Day (16th October). This will involve a showcase of a variety of foods traditionally belonging to different ethnic groups. This will enhance appreciation of cultural and ethnic food diversity. Additionally, the food system will leverage on field days organized by stakeholders in wards and sub-counties in Nairobi to promote cultural foods. This will involve not only exhibiting the diversity of foods but also showcasing innovative urban farming methods and different cooking methods. The periodic days will provide opportunity for sustained engagements with communities on food culture, complementing the annual festivals.
The food system will document traditional cuisines and recipes. This has already begun as documented in Kenya Food Recipe 2018 (FAO/GoK, 2018). This will help preserve cultural dishes and ways of preparing them, applying innovative ICT technology.
The food system will promote education policies that enhance integration of our cultural heritage into the school curriculum, as already seen in the current curriculum (KICD Lower Primary Curriculum Design, 2017). This will see children learn and appreciate the diversity in our foods and cultural practices across diverse ethnic groups.
The system will also advocate for enhanced government policies on bio-cultural diversity and preservation of food cultures in museums and cultural centers (National Museums and Heritage Act, 2012). Through this, the 2050 community will be more cohesive through appreciation of cultural heritage and flourish more.
In summary, the 2050 Vision will ensure preservation of the community’s human and social values, promote the cultural heritage, thereby promoting community sovereignty and enhancing resilience. The 2050 Nairobi community will be more cohesive, integrated and peacefully co-existing.
Technology | What technological advances are needed to transform your food system into one that meets your goals and embodies the values of your Vision in 2050?
Our 2050 Vision for Nairobi will employ evidence-based innovative food production and supply, and surplus food rescue, repurposing and redistribution techniques to optimize efficiency and effectiveness, and reduce food wastage. Our Vision will employ innovative technology while preserving human and social values. For example, though advanced technologies e.g. automation, genetic modification, and second generation domestication of plants and animals (https://bit.ly/2XweCuG, https://bit.ly/36skpWl, (https://bloom.bg/3ggHm3r) may promote greater yields in a shorter time and space to feed 2050 population, we are slow to include them at this point. We however know cultures and social values evolve with time, and so will our Vision.
An innovations and knowledge transfer hub for designing, testing and demonstrating innovations and techniques in urban farming and food processing and repurposing will be established. This will be done together with the Ministry of Agriculture, key agribusiness practitioners and academic institutions. Innovations and technology developed through this hub will be transferred to community via community-organized groups (youth and women groups) via deliberate capacity building actions.
Innovations will be co-designed with the community to ensure the community social values, cultures and sovereignty are upheld in the technological development.
These innovations and technological advances will involve:
1. Promotion of innovative high yield urban farming techniques that maximize the use of the available space e.g. through vertical gardens, hydroponics and aquaponics. These farming approaches maximize quantity of produce/output with minimal input making the grower community self-reliant, and enhance food quality/safety, promoting food insecurity in urban slums.
2. The adoption of local preservation and safe storage methods of food at the farm level will enhance the shelf life of otherwise perishable food items and the food safety, while reducing food losses. To achieve this, the capacity of farmers and local food vendors on the application of simple technologies for food preservation will be built. These technologies include freezing/dehydrating leafy food items and storing them in cold stores. Farmers will also be introduced and encouraged to adopt other approaches that add value to otherwise perishable produce while extending the shelf life e.g. mango and banana drying units to make fruit biscuits and crisps.
3. Development and/or supporting operationalization of existing structures and systems for testing foods and tracing the food sources to assure quality and safety. This will be done through a digital platform that closely follows and tracks agricultural produce from where it is produced to the markets. This system will ensure a complete and thorough understanding of the agricultural food origination so that any problems with quality and safety of the food can be mapped to the source and dealt with effectively.
4. Food trade through AgriFood Tech (https://bit.ly/3bX4BMw) will enhance efficiency in the logistics in food production and distribution, and facilitate the linkages in the food supply and demand sides. An ICT system will facilitate the distribution and conveyance of food from rural areas to the urban areas, with a ripple effect on accessibility and affordability. The system will establish a digitally facilitated food rescue and redistribution network within airports, private warehouses, government run pack houses, export processing zones and community to provide centralized locations for surplus food collection and redistribution at nominal costs.
5. The ICT system will host a digital data center where information can be accessed by ‘suppliers’ and ‘consumers’ in real time. For instance, farmers in both urban and peri-urban locations can use the application to link to retailers e.g. youth or women groups in the urban areas.
6. An ICT facilitated education program that disseminates tips, training materials, and reminders and follow up information to farmers on efficient and effective approaches to high yields following their training to ensure that such knowledge is not lost and there is a continuous flow of information. The system will also be used for health promotion on appropriate dietary practices.
7. Harnessing and supply of safe drinking water to households and communities through rain water harvesting and humidity condensation techniques, and the safe filtration, purification and supply.
8. Green technology that promotes the use of renewable sources of energy to contribute to the reduction of the carbon footprint and therefore the protection of the environment. The Vision will promote use of renewable energy such as solar power for cooking, heating and lighting, particularly in low-income areas where currently wood and coal dominate, hence reducing carbon emissions.
Policy | What types of policies are needed to enable your future food system?
Public health problems including food security are complex, needing complex systems Therefore, a complex array of policies and targeted policy information through research and advocacy will be needed to enable our 2050 food system vision in order to promote food security and healthy diets, healthy environment and human and social values. The policies needed will include:
Policies that promote sustainable agriculture to ensure sustainable food security for all.
Policies that promote and regulate urban and peri-urban farming including innovative and agro ecological farming.
Human rights policies to promote human, social and cultural values and a human-rights based approach to development to ensure food and nutrition security for all. In Kenya, the right to food is enshrined in Article 43 of the Constitution, and a Right to Food bill is being prepared for consideration in Parliament, with support and inputs from the Vision group. These legal and statutory protections form an enabling environment for the Vision.
Youth empowerment and gender equality policies that aim to empower youth and women and facilitate their participation in economic enterprise through agribusiness.
Social security policies through schemes such as food subsidies, school feeding programs, and unconditional cash transfers for vulnerable groups to increase access to affordable, healthy and nutritious food.
Policies that promote our traditional cultural heritage, including entrenching it into the school curriculum. This will enhance preservation of our culture and integrate it into the future generations, contributing to community sovereignty.
Health and Nutrition Policies
Health promotion policies that promote adoption of healthy diets and promote food safety.
Breastfeeding and child feeding policies to promote optimal nutrition for children
Food fortification and supplementation policies to curb micro-nutrient deficiencies.
Environment policies to promote biodiversity in urban areas, promote optimal water and sanitation, control pollution and mitigate climate change. These include policies that promote regenerative agriculture to conserve the environment and food preservation to prevent food loss. Additionally, policies to promote green technology that promotes the use of renewable sources of energy to contribute to the reduction of the carbon footprint and therefore the protection of the environment.
Land use and planning polices
Polices that guide land use planning and housing to promote flat roofing to enable rooftop farming.
Food handling, storage and processing
Policies to improve storage and access to nutritious perishable products, improve food hygiene and safety, food preservation, and repurposing. Policies in this category will also seek to improve market-level.
Food trade and marketing
Policies to promote agribusiness including promotion of AgroTech for efficiency. Food trade and marketing policies will include food labelling and advertisement polices to promote healthy diets and regulate promotion of unhealthy foods. Further policies in this category will promote voluntary labels to make indigenous, organic and healthy foods prominent in the market.
Global and regional policy frameworks
Global and regional policy frameworks such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact and the African Union Agenda 2063 that can provide direction on policy measures that governments can incorporate into their national policies to improving food and nutrition security.
Describe how these 6 Themes connect with and influence one another in your food system.
Food systems are complex systems with multiple non-linear (negative and positive) feedback loops between sub-systems. Some of the components that drive these feedback mechanisms include economy, environment, energy, technology among others. Our system envisions to develop and implement appropriate policies that are based on an understanding of the complexity of the food system.
The goal of our envisioned food system is to ensure the right to food for all in Nairobi and to restore Nairobi to “a place of cool waters” [original Masai name] that is food secure, healthy and environmentally friendly by 2050. This will be achieved through addressing six interconnected themes, namely: the environment, diets, economics, culture, technology and policy. A constant thread is the promotion of human rights and social & cultural values.
Appropriate policies will create an enabling environment to ensure an environmentally-friendly thriving food system. Dietary intake and food security will be influenced by the policy environment, particularly agricultural, food and nutrition, health and social protection policies. Environmental protection policies will ensure availability of safe and nutritious food and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Technology will influence efficiency and production, hence determine the foods available in the supply chain. Food processing and preservation technologies will ensure food stability and availability for a longer time. Technology will also ensure efficient food distribution and reduced food wastage, hence reduced environmental pollution and social justice through increased food access. Technological advancements like blockchain will be used to trace food in the supply chain, including tracing seeds, soils, water, crops, waste and back to the soil.
Food systems and culture constantly shape the food environment,1 by determining which foods people eat. Food taboos, religion and cultural perceptions influence dietary intake either throughout the entire lifespan or during particular phases of the lifespan. Promotion of indigenous food consumption will stimulate production and consumption of these foods, and reinforce cultural beliefs and practices that support good nutrition. Promotion of bio-cultural diversity in urban areas with promote community preferred diets and promote a healthy environment through improving city landscapes.
The food system will create jobs and markets for raw materials and thereby sustainably improve household incomes and access to food and health care. The food system will generate direct and indirect job opportunities for women and youth, hence their economic empowerment. This will in turn improve their access to safe and nutritious foods, and contribute to reduce crime rates and create a friendly and peaceful environment.
Describe any trade-offs you may have to make within your system to attain your Vision by 2050.
The vast majority of the food consumed in Nairobi comes from other counties and international sources. The current food system is characterized by intermediaries that drive up transaction costs along value chains, placing some food products out of the reach of ordinary residents. Key actors in the supply chain include farmers, wholesalers who buy bulk food products in rural areas and transport it to Nairobi, urban wholesalers operating primarily within the city and retailers within the city selling food to consumers. Our revolutionary food system will disrupt the status quo and render some of those who work in the current food system jobless in the short term. For instance, use of digital technology to link farmers in rural areas with retailers in the city will render some intermediaries redundant. Increased urban farming, efficient food distribution and reduced food wastage will result into increased food availability and lower food prices. Farmers in rural areas who supply food to Nairobi will experience reduced demand for their produce and a decline in revenues. Moreover, given that the system will promote consumption of plant-based diets, livestock farmers will experience reduced demand for their products.
Our food system promotes organic farming in a context of market dominated by foods grown using agricultural chemicals and in a context of rising diet-related diseases like cancer with indications of attribution to the chemicals in the foods. This may mean higher demand for the organic foods at the expense of the other foods, reducing their market, hence interfering with livelihoods of those who use agricultural chemicals to promote yield. The farmers using inorganic methods could also potentially be influenced to rethink production strategy if the demand for organic foods rises.
Additionally, increased production of organic foods is likely to interfere with the current organic food markets, where organic foods are sold at high prices, mainly to high income earners.
Zoning out areas for urban agriculture and increased farming in Nairobi and in peri-urban areas means that land that would have been used for other investments, e.g. real estate and recreation will be used for farming. Finally, while we are aware of technological advances that could highly increase yield to feed the projected 2050 population, including automation, genetic modification and second domestication of plans and animals (https://bit.ly/2XweCuG, https://bit.ly/36skpWl, (https://bloom.bg/3ggHm3r), our food system will promote human and social values including the farming culture, and promoting employment of women and youth thus taking advantage of the projected demographic dividend in Africa.
Those who lose jobs as a result of the trade-off will land other livelihood opportunities created by the application of new technologies. The trade-off period will therefore serve as a time to retrain people and develop new skills suitable for new opportunities.
3 Years | Describe 3 key milestones that you would need to achieve within the next three years for your Vision to be on track?
Our 3 key milestone for the first 3 years include network building, fund raising and partnerships for the vision and public engagement, formative research and pilot.
- Network building & Strategic Planning: We will endeavor to build strong partnerships towards the actualization of the Vision. This will involve mapping and building a network of multisectoral stakeholders drawn from different sectors including private and public sector, community based organizations, research, and the civil society. Regular network meetings will be held to draw a clear plan and strategy for the actualization of the Vision. This strategy will include an advocacy and communication strategy to create visibility for the Vision, a resource mobilization strategy; an implementation strategy, and a monitoring, evaluation and learning strategy.
- Public engagement, formative research and pilot implementation: We will conduct further public engagement and formative research on the core aspects of the Vision to deepen our understanding of the different perspectives regarding the Vision, and refine our strategy for its actualization. This will also help get a wider buy in into the Vision from a range of stakeholders and build a momentum for its actualization. Formative research will include primary research and rapid review of literature, and learning exchanges. We will also pilot a prototype of the Vision. The pilot will guide further refinement of the Vision. We have received some funding through the EU Horizon 2020 Healthy Foods Africa scheme. We plan to pilot a Living Lab for innovative urban farming in Nairobi, which is one of the core aspects of the Vision.
Fundraising and Partnerships: We will develop proposals towards the actualization of the Vision, including collaboration with community groups, social enterprises and others who share in the Vision. We will solicit funding for the different aspects of the Vision, including additional funding to build on to the pilot work.
10 Years | What progress will you need to make—by 2030—that would set your Vision up to become a reality by 2050?
Within 10 years, we will achieve the three year plan outline before: network building, fund raising and partnerships for the vision and public engagement, formative research and pilot implementation. We will move quickly to scale, employing learning from the three-year strategy and pilot phase. These core aspects include (i) innovative agroecological urban farming in urban and peri-urban areas and increasing tree cover through planting of fruit trees in available spaces; and establishing efficient linkages with rural food sources (ii) efficient linkages to rural food sources; (iii) food rescue system to promote food loss reduction; (iv) Economic empowerment through agribusiness particularly for youth and women in urban poor settings to promote economic access to food.
We also envision appropriate policy framework in place to support the vision. Further, the knowledge and technology transfer hub will be established and will be fully functional to empower women and youth. Other supportive structures including research, monitoring, learning and evaluation; and advocacy will be fully function in 10 years.
Fundraising to support the implementation of the Vision will be ongoing during the this period.
We anticipate making a significant contribution towards the achievement of the sustainable development goal number 2 of ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition. We envision making significant contribution to ending hunger in Nairobi through reducing the levels of household food insecurity among the urban poor in Nairobi and improving dietary practices across the socio-economic divide.
If awarded the $200,000 prize what would you do with it?
We will use the money to celebrate with team, build our team and get to business!
Close to 30 partners supported the development and refinement of our vision and share in the belief of its possibility. It is our hope that these partners will also continue in the collective action towards actualization of the vision. Should we win the prize, we will first hold a celebration to appreciate the great achievement and the great partnership. We will also use that celebration to start an informal exchange amongst those present about what they want to see as the first stages of the vision. The celebration will therefore be an informal part of the work
Beyond the celebration, the work begins. We use the funds towards actualizing the three milestones outlined in the feasibility section: (i) network building; (ii) public engagement, formative research and pilot studies; and (iii) fundraising. As we already some initial funding for public engagement and a pilot study, the Prize money will be additional to make the plans successful. Specifically, we will use the money to consolidate the network of the different actors through regular meetings to plan and strategize; support public engagement and formative research in up market areas as the current funding is geared towards low income settings; to mobilize communities towards initiation of the interventions; and fund learning exchange trips e.g. to Japan to learn more about innovative urban farming and to South Africa to learn more about operations of food rescue system. We will also pay staff time for a core team members to raise additional funding to support the Vision.
If you are chosen as a Top Visionary, The Rockefeller Foundation would like to share your Vision widely with a global audience. What would you like the world to learn from your Vision for 2050?
Our Vision is to restore Nairobi to a “place of cool waters” that is food secure, healthy & environmentally friendly by 2050, through a regenerative, transformative, human rights-based food system. Nairobi will be a place where all people live in peace & harmony, in the spirit of "Ubuntu”.
In 2050, Kenya is projected to be more urban than rural, with14 million people, three times the current Nairobi population, living in Nairobi. This means a huge demand for food, hence need for a big change in the way that food is produced, managed and distributed.
Our Vision seeks to make vital contributions in Nairobi in two overarching ways: improving food & nutrition security and enhancing environmental sustainability - all supported via a multisectoral network of players.
We envision Nairobi as an important source of food for its inhabitants via innovative agroecological farming that maximizes efficiency while preserving the environment & promotes people’s wellbeing. Linkages between rural food producers & urban consumers will be efficient. There will be far less food waste, & nobody will be hungry because surplus food will be rescued, repurposed & equitably redistributed.
If we get it right, we could help restore our environment, avert a climate crisis & preserve the African farming & food cultures despite projected urbanization - all which will promote the wellbeing & aspirations of the people of Nairobi. Our model is replicable in Africa & globally for the wellbeing of humanity.