Food for the Cities


 > FCIT > Meetings & Events > Regional Workshop - Ensuring Resilient Food Systems in African Cities - 2011

Working document - draft

In collaboration with FAO sub-regional office for Eastern Africa and FAO office in Kenya, the Food for the Cities multi-disciplinary initiative organized, in collaboration with the Mazingira Institute, on December 13-14 2011 in Nairobi, a regional workshop Ensuring Resilient Food Systems in African Cities.

The Food, Agriculture and Cities position paper has been distributed to all the participants and was used as background document to work on.

Opening Session

Introduction of participants

More than 50 participants from 7 countries (Burundi, Djibuti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda) including Ministries of Agriculture, urban planners and local authorities, farmers, NGOs and other UN Agencies (UN-HABITAT, UNICEF, WFP) (list of participants...)

(for a high resolution picture, click here)

Welcome address - Castro Camarada, FAO Sub-Regional Representative and Dan Rugabira, FAO Kenya

The "Food for the Cities” multidisciplinary initiative - Paul Munro-Faure, Chairperson of FAO “Food for the Cities”, FAO Rome

The role of urban planning for food and nutrition security - Andrew Rudd, on behalf of Raf Tuts, UN-HABITAT

UN-HABITAT promotes more compact cities, more connected to one another while preserving more green and natural areas between them. UN-Habitat is therefore particularly interested in the uses and roles of territories and their connections in a landscape mosaic approach. Such a territorial design allows preservation of ecosystem and biodiversity and contributes to adaptation policies to climate change. Agriculture is adding value to the land as co-benefits from agriculture are amongst low-cost green economy, low-space practices, prevention of soil consumption, creation of job opportunities and support of decent work, reduction of carbon emissions and climate change adaptation strategies, civil society capacity, etc. UN-HABITAT relates with local authorities and engages them on patterns that can be adapted in order to address the complexity of city design and management. It requires explicit mechanisms and plans of action.

Integrating agriculture and urbanization in Caracas (Venezuela) has demonstrated several opportunities regarding UPA depending on where and how it is developed (slides 18 and 19).

For 2012-13, UN-HABITAT is developing with RUAF a project combining cities and climate change and urban and peri-urban agriculture (slide 23). There’s a need to consider how FAO can also be involved.

Main issues from the discussion: 

  • In the chart of slide 6, “food and nutrition security” is not mentioned. It is because the focus was on “how policy framed the actions”;
  • Assessment of economic value of UPA production can help decision makers, particularly mayors, to make decisions;
  • Land tenure issues, on private or public land, and the impacts on UPA need to be addressed together with the way cities are planned; Information on land management and history of the land tenure and evictions may be useful. There are significant differences between African cities, often related to their colonial past;
  • Waste management as well as agriculture and food wastes and losses (harvesting and storage, processing and consumption) need to be considered with regards to cities.

Presentation of the paper “Food, agriculture and cities - Challenges of food and nutrition security, agriculture and ecosystem management in an urbanizing world

A presentation of the paper was given by Francesca Gianfelici, FAO Food for the Cities secretariat and of the meeting's objectives and expected outcomes by Julien Custot, FAO Food for the Cities facilitator.

Davinder Lamba, director of the Mazingira Institue, asked what is meant by “resilient food systems” as compared to “sustainable food system”. Sustainable development was widely promoted with the Rio conference, 20 years ago. The approach of resilience is now commonly used particularly regarding the strategies to adapt to risks and disasters, among which the impact of climate change. Resilience is shared by both development and humanitarian actors. We in fact should not oppose resilience and sustainability. The goal is to develop food systems that contribute to food and nutrition security of the urban dwellers with a stronger link between urban and rural areas.

Session One: Food production and supply for cities: the food system and urban-rural linkages

Building Resilient Food Systems: Nairobi and Environs Food Security, Agriculture and Livestock Forum - Diana Lee-Smith, Mazingira Institute

Networking between cities helps to make their food systems more resilient! In Africa, we can estimate that there are about 200 million urban farmers. A key factor is to have farmers networking when comparing their cities. The presence of many farmers in this workshop makes the difference! The history of Mazingira Institute is indeed about networking, from local to global levels. It connects cities in Africa but also with other cities, especially in North America.

Sustainable Food and Energy Producing Landscapes for Supporting Urban Populations - Constance Neely and Katja Kehlenbeck, World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF)

Trees and landscapes can be seen through their different functions, from the very urban to ecosystem dimensions. Landscapes are critical to support cities and are key elements for urban-rural linkages. The livestock sector, the meat chain, is also relevant to urban-rural linkages, with regards to both pastoralists and farmers. In order to have a sustainable value chain; the informal market, its safety and sanitation have to be considered, local private sector have to be enhanced, biogas and energy supply need to be addressed. An interesting case in East Africa is the dairy development programme focused on dairy hubs (for high quality milk and livestock collection and marketing).

Fruit trees are important from a nutrition and health point of view, but also as a source of income. But lots of limits have to be faced such as: poor access to planting materials; lack of modern varieties; poor harvest and post-harvest techniques; need for training; poor consumers awareness, and changing food habits. The interesting experience of the Fruiting Africa project in Kenya and Mali was mentioned in the presentation. ICRAF did an evaluation of the fruit trees in urban gardens in Niger (Niamey). For the trees already in the garden (only in big gardens) it appears that 35% of the trees are fruit trees, 14% are indigenous fruit trees and few are exotic fruits; but 33% gardens have no trees at all. Only 20% of fruit produced is consumed. By a nutrition point of view the indigenous varieties are much more nutritious. Exotic species are used for income generation. Greater consumers’ education is needed as, for instance, men do not consume the fruit produced in their gardens!

Plenary discussion

Some elements raised during the discussion are related to:

  • advantage and drawbacks of rural versus urban production;
  • water contamination and health;
  • waste management and post-harvest losses;
  • food production for consumption and better nutrition, or for income generation;
  • sustainability of activities after the ending of development or humanitarian projects.

Different presenters and other participants replied. Diana Lee-Smith underlined that agriculture in rural areas is fundamental and cannot be replaced by UPA. However, UPA exists and is an important activity for thousands of families. Therefore, it needs to be taken into consideration with its different dimensions, such as water availability and use in urban areas. She mentioned studies presented in the publication “African Urban Harvest” in which the benefits of waste water reuse for UPA have been analysed along with its related health and sanitation issues.

Regarding the sustainability of projects, Constance Neely highlighted how the project-driven mentality can be overcome if communities take concrete action with community-driven activities. It has been done in some important livestock project run in Nairobi in the last years. With this regard, Wilfried Ondugu from Kekonioke has reported the example of a biogas project currently closed but sustained by the community.

Networking processes have been of major interest for the participants. Davinder Lamba has described the multi-level collaboration model used to combine, with more democratic discussions, both the agriculture and the livestock domains in the case of NEFSALF (Nairobi and Environs Food Security, Agriculture, and Livestock Forum). 3 times per year periodic meetings are held. This is very important to maintain continuity and interaction. In order to offer an added value to participants, it is crucial to include the public actors in the process and make training available. Enabling and regulating is essential! It is a long process which needs to be sustained. Strong commitments are needed to pass and move forward on essential inputs.

Session Two: food and nutrition security in urban areas in crisis contexts

Assisting urban populations in crisis and emergency situations (natural and man-made disasters) - Maylis Razes, FAO

Tools and methodologies adapted to understand and capture properly the food and nutrition security situation of urban dwellers are lacking. This hinders the efficiency of the humanitarian response. Within the framework of the "Meeting Humanitarian Challenges in Urban Areas" Reference Group of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), FAO and WFP have agreed to join forces to produce a guidance on food and nutrition security in urban crisis contexts, in collaboration with 4 partners (ACF, Concern, IFRC and Oxfam). The overall objective is to develop a methodology to prepare partners to identify food and nutrition security (FNS) needs and to inform FNS preparedness and response to crisis in urban and peri urban areas. Nairobi is one of the forethought cities of implementation.

Challenges of Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture and Forestry for resilient communities - Andy Adam-Bradford, Islamic Relief Worldwide

Plenary discussion

The plenary discussions following the presentations stimulated further analysis and knowledge sharing between the participants:

  • on waste: how to manage waste from food packaging ? Waste management could be seen as an opportunity (e.g. the “pig bin” in England during World War II)
  • need of broader partnerships and identification local authorities’ roles
  • analysis at household (HH) level are needed
  • need to address gender perspectives with the role of women
  • UPA has disappeared in Mogadishu; UPA is dealt in the wrong department at Government level in Ethiopia; infrastructures linking rural to urban areas are at risk of disruption in bad weather conditions: during crisis, many elements may interfere with food security in cities.

Session Three: Identifying local issues and challenges

Working groups by countries have gathered insights and evaluations on key issues affecting resilient food systems on the basis of the components illustrated in the "Food, Agriculture and Cities" paper.

Opportunities have also been identified in order to come up with

major recommendations on

how to realize a resilient food system in line with the 4 dimensions proposed in the "Food, Agriculture and Cities" paper.


Session four: Case studies and field experiences

Food security and nutrition analysis unit - Somalia (FSNAU) Urban Assessments - Tamara Nanitashvili, FAO Somalia


The FSNAU is an information unit for Somalia: the presentation was on indicators to assess both food security and nutrition in urban areas. FSNAU uses the overall framework of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) and pioneers the IPC mapping, for urban areas as well as for rural areas. Rural food security has effects on urban areas, regarding agriculture production and food supply as well as migration. Urban-rural linkages are critical. It is why data from both urban and rural areas are needed.

For urban areas, FSNAU uses the Household Economy Approach tool (based on strategies) and the Sustainable Livelihood Approach (based on assets). To capture the pressure exerted by high food prices on access to food, the FSNAU developed the Minimum Expenditure Basket (MEB) tool. Still FSNAU needs improved methodologies for its work in urban areas, e.g. to measure food security in non-poor households, or to refine its understanding of urban income for improving the MEB method to capture expenditures gaps.

Notably, the results of the food security monitoring of August 2011 in the Southern region showed increased displacement and in particular rural to urban migration, as well as the development of urban farming as a source of income and food. Urban areas are indeed affected by conflicts even more than rural areas; but famines are not occurring in urban areas.

Integrating the minimum Cost of a Diet (CoD) and  Infant & Young Child Feeding (IYCF) into the Djibouti Urban EFSA 2010 - Annet Birungi, WFP Regional office

Water and energy scarcity are two main challenges in Djibouti. The WFP Regional office presented its urban assessment work using the minimum Cost of a Diet (CoD) tool and Infant & Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices. CoD is originally a Save the Children UK tool; it uses a list of food, their nutrient composition and their price to estimate the minimum cost of a nutritious diet.

The Cost of Diet was deemed a good advocacy tool to show economic access to nutritious food to governments but the results were contradictory to the results from the FCS tool.

Horn of Africa Drought: Urban Centres and the expanding pastoral rangeland - Stephen McDowell, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

The drought in the Horn of Africa, increasing the vulnerability of population living in arid and semi-arid lands, affected urban areas, especially in Kenya and Ethiopia. Livelihoods (and resources) in these areas are in transition: we are moving from subsistence based to cash based livelihoods; pastoralism can no longer sustain nowadays lifestyle and towns are seen as symbols of hope and opportunities for development. Cities are linked to pastoralist livelihoods also because more and more animals belong to fewer and fewer people, often living in cities, which rely on animal keepers.

Families are able to cope with the crisis but not with the risks. Policies promoting successful urbanization, just as the one enabling people to live dignified in rural areas, are important, contemporary drought-coping mechanisms. We can no longer blame it on the rain because water is just a component of a complex system.

Urban agriculture in Nairobi - a way to increase community resilience - Winfred Mueni, Solidarités International

Solidarités International launched its urban agriculture program in 4 slums of Nairobi after the post election violence in 2008. Acknowledging that more than 50% of the household budget spent on food was used to buy maize and vegetables, Solidarités Internatinal chose to develop sack gardening in order to allow families to produce their own vegetables (kale, onion, coriander, indigenous vegetables etc.). They also did greenhouse farming and poultry rearing.

Growing vegetables enabled household to increase their dietary diversity, the quantity of food eaten and to save money not spent on food for other purposes. The technology is accessible, low space, requires little water, reuses agriculture skills of slums inhabitants and has a good environmental impact. It received wide acceptance from the communities and is easily replicable.

Transforming and improving livelihoods through market development and smallholder commercialization in Sub-Sharian Africa - Janet Wanjiru Magoiya, Farm Concern International

Farm Concern International (FCI) promotes market development and smallholder commercialization for improved livelihoods for several crops in more than 10 countries in Africa. In urban areas, nutrition based campaigns sustain the consumption of indigenous foods. Its target clients are smallholders farmers but also market intermediaries and business development services providers. FCI works through Commercial Village Model, part of the pillars for livelihoods transformation, to empower communities thanks to market access. They recommend the diversification of food crops, an enhanced vertical integration, partnerships and consumers’ nutritional education.

Session five: Role of different actors and policies

Role of local authorities, policies and strategies in developing resilient food systems in cities - ICLEI, Russel Galt

ICLEI is a global organisation of local governments. Food security will be a hot topic of the ICLEI world congress in Belo Horizonte in June 2012 and for the years to come. Cities like Cape Town, Belo Horizonte, Mexico and Dar Es Salaam have already taken action through urban agricultural policies or food programmes.  Many cities want to have support and ICLEI is stepping up to develop collaborations through dissemination of informatinos and peer-to-peer exchanges. The expectation of local authorities, within ICLEI, regarding resilient food systems in cities is to: receive technical assistance in the field of food security, develop partnerships, exchange best practices, produce guidelines and manuals and showcase achievements. 

Civil society mechanism to the Committee on Food Security (CFS) and urban poor constituency - Davinder Lamba, Mazingira Insitute, Head of the urban constituency of the Civil Society Mechanism

The Right To Food (RTF) is unique and has some peculiarities. Due to its variety, it is not like the other universal human rights. The Committee on Food Security (CFS) examines the reasons for crises affecting the RTF, including the national anti-hunger plans and initiatives. The role of the Civil Society Mechanism is to i) provide a broad and regular platform for exchange of information and experience ii) come up to common positions iii) advise the CFS with proposals. The Mechanism was operationalized in October 2010 with the creation of the urban poor constituency..

Now that the CFS embeds within its members a civil society mechanism (decision at consensus, equal voices), an inclusive governance system for FSN exists: it has become less ‘intergovernemental’ and more ‘international’. Davinder Lamba speaks of a “transnational UN intergovernmental organization”.

There is a certain resistance by local authorities to talk about Food and Nutrition Security. Therefore, changing the mind set of local authorities is needed. The urban Food Security council of Toronto is a very unique example of how local authorities can take action.

Composting and waste management - Daniel Paffenholz, TakaTaka Solutions

Taka Taka Solutions is a waste management company. It combines a social approach and an environmentally sustainable approach to waste management. Their model uses youth groups for waste collection, takataka points for processing and recycling and production of fertilizer out of organic waste. It now deals with 4 tons of waste per day and plans to scale up. It is affordable, scalable and sustainable.

It has set up franchising system for commercializing organic fertilizer. In this way nutrients go back to agriculture; it is a way to make the  fertilizer affordable and it is an environmental friendly process. A pilote case is in the Kangemi slum in Nairobi.

Contamination from heavy metals is a huge issue. Taka Taka solutions is also considering to use new kinds of bins. For the production of fertilizers, Taka Taka solutions uses a certification process and control system with the Kenya Bureau of standards.

Plenary discussion

Waste and waste management is a major issues. An important element raised by participants has to do with people’s behaviour and attitude with regards to waste management; changes in mindsets of people generating wastes are needed.

The case of the city of Nakuru has been presented as an advanced one; the city uses a public-private partnership mechanism engaging local groups. Training is needed to encourage re-cycling and re-treatment.

Burundi and Somalia’s local authorities representatives have expressed their view, in saying that local authorities may be interested in listening. Municipalities need to be put in the position to take inputs from the civil society, but also to work and develop activities empowering local actors.

There was often a complain on the lack of commitment from governments that take decisions but do not enforce them. Participants also underlined that we can not keep on waiting for governments to do everything and that we should have a more entrepreneurship spirit. The way waste are managed should not be copied from Northern cities, but maybe an African way should be developed?

Session Six: Way forward and plan of action

Thematic working groups:

  1. Institutionalizing urban food and nutrition and food system at the local level of governance;
  2. Integrating urban food and nutrition security and food system in urban and territorial planning;
  3. Integrating urban food and nutrition security and food system in risk reduction and ecosystem resilience.

A 4th cross cutting issue to be developed in a further stage is related to "indicators for urban food and nutrition security for people centered and social development policy".

Considering the conclusions of the different groups and the discussion, it is proposed to develop a project on “Eastern Africa sub-regional project on urban food security and nutrition, food systems and agriculture”. The contributors will be the sub-regional workshop participants: FAO subregional office, FAO food for the Cities, UN agencies, other actors (ICLEI...).

The following ideas need to take into consideration:

  • prioritization of activities,
  • support of Governments,
  • available budget(s).

A one page proposal will be drafted by FAO “Food for the Cities”. It should highlight the main issues and identify the main expectations and goals. Pilot cities and countries will have to be identified.

The report of the workshop will be disseminated. It will be a support for advocacy by the different participants of the workshop towards the different stakeholders, including Ministers.

Davinder Lamba and Paul Munro-Faure closed the workshop.

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