OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

“Ukulima Mtaani” ( Swahili phrase for Street Farming) Project

To develop a food secure community by 2050 through enhancing of high-quality food production and marketing.

Photo of Isaac Okoth
3 1

Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Institute for Green Development

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small NGO (under 50 employees)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Nairobi City

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 of 696 km^2

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Nairobi is the capital city of Kenya. It is the most populous part of the country. The majority of the population is made of young people and the urban poor. I was raised in Nairobi. Therefore, I consider it home. I used to visit different places in the city and every time I see these places, I always reflect on how it was when I was young. When with my siblings, we often talk about the changes that have happened in the city. We reminisce of the things that the city used to offer us and how everything has changed. It is also the only city in Nairobi thus making it special.

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 is a metropolitan made of a population of about 4,397,073 as per the 2019 population census. This is made of about 45 different tribes. The common language in the area is Kiswahili. The name Nairobi is from a phrase from the Maasai tribe, Enkare Nairobi to mean “cool water”. This refers to the River Nairobi that runs across the area.  The staple food in the area is ugali which is a form of bread made from flour. Ugali can be taken with diverse foods including vegetables, fish, beef, and chicken.

Nairobi’s climate is subtropical highland climate under the Köppen climate classification. It has an elevation of about 1,795 meters above sea level. The area also has two rainy seasons with temperatures ranging from 9⁰C to 24⁰C. Its western part has a rugged topography while the eastern side is generally flat and lower.

Nairobi is made of about 45 different tribes. According to the World Bank, about 29.2 percent of the locals live below the poverty line. The common language spoken in the area is Kiswahili and sheng which is a mixture of Kiswahili and English. Nairobi also enjoys diverse cultures representing the diverse tribes and age groups in the area. Some of the unique cultural trends in Nairobi include the use of graffiti on public transport buses.

The Nairobi residents rely on the food from the rural area. This is despite the majority of the country’s population living within the city. There are also several lands in the area that lies idle that has seen some become illegal dumping sites. The majority of the urban poor are also unemployed youths in a country that struggles with the high unemployment rate. The use of technology can enable the area to become food secure through the production of food of good quality and quantity. This will also make food affordable and offer employment opportunities. Street farming can also enhance solid waste management.

The availability of high-quality food at an affordable price will enable the improvement of the health of the locals. It will enhance reduce cancer risks among locals and diabetes management. It will also help prevent strokes and improve heart health. This will also help improve the lives of the health of the expectant mothers and brain development of their babies including those below 5 years of age. In addition, the employment associated with the agricultural activities will ensure sustainable households among the current urban poor.

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 has current and future challenges. For instance, climate change significantly affected farming methods. The increase in temperature and unreliability of rainfall has made it suitable for farming to be done in controlled environments. This has made the initial farming capital to be higher.

The urban poor also finds it harder to be food secure due to diets. Inadequate financial capital has made it difficult to access and afford high-quality food. They have also found it difficult to have a balanced diet as they tend to rely on the most common and cheapest food in the area.

There has been a problem of demand and supply in the food system. The majority of the people are in an urban setting while the minority are in rural areas. However, most farming happens in rural areas thus making the urban settings reliant on these areas. This makes the demand to be way higher than the supply as the population continues to move from rural to urban areas. The best way to maintain the balance, therefore, is to develop food systems in urban centers so that the majority can engage in production.

Culturally, farming in rural areas. The farming conducted also relies on nature such as rainfall and temperature. Consequently, climate change has made it difficult for such a notion to be sustained. There is a need for communities to embrace technological developments that will see control of the environment. This will ensure food security through an increase in the quantity and quality of the yield. There is also a notion that farming is not a job for the young. It is important that the youths in Nairobi are helped to understand that farming can be “cool”. It will help reduce the unemployment rate among youths.

Currently, the policy in place does not promote urban farming. It favors conventional farming methods despite the challenges linked to it. For instance, the government still promotes reliance on rainfall among other climatic factors in agriculture. The focus is also in the focus on cash crops such as tea and coffee instead of healthy food crops such as millet and sorghum. There is a need to change the policies and ensure an embrace of urban farming and the embrace of technology.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

My vision is to make Nairobi food secure by 2050. The vision will be realized by enhancing farming in the city. Consequently, the city will be greener, food sufficient, and self-reliant. This will be achieved by investing in technological integration in agriculture. The innovations will help address the adverse effects of climate change on agricultural activities. It will also reduce the overreliance reliance on natural factors such as rainfall and temperature when engaging in agricultural activities. For instance, greenhouses and hydroponics will be used in the free spaces within the cities including the house roofs and abandoned buildings. This will enhance the production of good organic foods and create employment opportunities, more so, to the youths and women. Consequently, the increase in production in Nairobi will reduce the overreliance on the rural areas. It will also ensure that the city becomes greener and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are minimized. Furthermore, the use of technology will make the youths consider agriculture to be “cool”. In return, there will invest in it and reduce the unemployment rate. However, this can only be achieved when there are adequate policies to promote it. The national and local governments should introduce policies that will enhance urban farming and the use of technology in farming.

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.

The realization of the vision will ensure that the households are able to access and afford high-quality food. This will improve their diets and enhance the health of children below 5 years and pregnant and lactating mothers. It will also help improve the health of general households among the urban poor as it increases the variability and affordability of food products in the market. Environmentally, the vision will make the city greener. The plants will act as a carbon sink while the plastics will be re-used in the farms thus making the city more sustainable. Economically, the city will be able to provide adequate food to supply its local population and export in case there is a surplus. The surplus in return will be a source of income to the household thus eradication poverty. Farming will also act as a source of employment for the youths that are idle within the city. It will create jobs and make the youths and women more productive. Consequently, it will reduce the crime rates in the informal settlements that are linked with idleness.

The project will also make agriculture seem lucrative to the youths. The integration of technology will make the youths reconsider the argument that agriculture is not “cool”. This will make the youths venture into agriculture. It will also eliminate the culture of relying on rainfed agriculture. The technological use will enhance innovation among youths. Consequently, local resources will be used to develop sustainable agriculture in society.

The project will promote a bottom-up development of the policies. It will be a call of the public for the legislative bodies to focus on the real needs of their constituents. The success of the project will raise a call of imitation from other towns and counties within the country and beyond. The ripple effect will, in turn, raise a movement that will ensure the country becomes food secure.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

The full vision of the organization is to ensure food security among the urban poor through the production and distribution of agricultural produce. The production and distribution will be done in a sustainable way to ensure that the benefits are maximized. It will take into consideration the environmental, social, and economic spheres of development.

The production and distribution will focus on making the city greener. For instance, it will increase the vegetation cover in Nairobi through vegetable farming. This will act as a carbon sink to the high pollution rates experienced in the city. Traffic is one of the major causes of pollution in Nairobi. Therefore, with the introduction of vegetable farms in the streets and on plots, the carbon (iv) oxide will be absorbed. This will help mitigate global warming and climate change. In return, the climate will be better for more agricultural activities. However, there is a need for change in policy to allow for a more greener city. For instance, the local government should introduce policies that promote the development of farms on top of plots. The idle lands also need to be converted to urban farms that best suit them.

The vision aims to realize a food secure city. It aims at developing a city that is able to meed the food needs of its residents. This includes the needs of the urban poor. The vision aims to break the notion that rural areas are where food can be produced. There has been a high rate of rural-urban migration with the population moving to urban areas to search for job opportunities and social amenities. This has made the urban centers to be rich in the labor force. However, due to high population growth and economic challenges, it has been difficult for urban areas to have job opportunities. Investment in agriculture will only ensure food security but also promote employment.

The vision of the project is to economically empower the locals and the country in general. It gives the opportunity for the youths to be employed as farm owners or managers. It also gives opportunities for the unemployed to be engaged in retailing of the farm produce and inputs. Another income-generating activity in the project would be the transportation of the farm produce.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Facebook


Join the conversation:

Photo of alexander valeton

hi Isaac... nice plans, good idea. shall we see how you and www.Yielder. org can team up? we are doing a lot of communications and training for farmers in kenya. and we would like to include urban farming as well.

Photo of Isaac Okoth

Sure! Contact me through the email

Photo of Isaac Okoth

Sure! Contact me through the email