Urban Food Agenda

Urban Food Systems in Kenya


Globally, over half of the population reside in urban areas and 85% live in or within 3 hours of an urban centre with more than 50,000 inhabitants.  Africa has the world's fastest growing population, with two-thirds of their inhabitants expected to live in urban areas in the next 30 years. And by the next century, Africa and Asia may be home to a total population of 9 billion of the projected 11 billion living on the planet.

In Kenya, the urban trends are quite similar to the global ones with urban dwellers accounting for 31 percent of the total population, which is projected to rise to 50 percent by 2050. The largest share of urban population in Kenya is concentrated in the three cities: Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa. However, the urban populace is also increasing in secondary towns spurred by the spatial expansion of urban settlements through occupation and the reclassification of rural areas.  Displacement of people due to crises, rural-urban migration and natural growth have also contributed significantly to the rapid urbanization rates in Kenya.  Food insecurity and malnutrition levels are increasingly high especially among the vulnerable groups of the urban poor found in informal settlements.  In Kenya, approximately 29 percent of the urban population is considered food poor- meaning they cannot meet their daily calorific requirements based on their expenditure on food.   

Rising unemployment, poverty and intra-urban inequality are some of the key factors contributing to rising food and nutrition insecurity in urban areas (including small intermediary and metropolitan cities). 
Urbanisation is putting pressure on existing food systems by causing changes in the existing landscape through the conversion of rural land to urban and industrial use and the rapidly declining pool of labour in rural areas. In addition, food consumption, behavioural patterns and food preferences are changing with the increasing consumption of convenient, highly processed, energy dense foods. 

To ensure sustainable development in urban areas, fostering resilient and economically prosperous food systems, integrated across landscapes and based on multi-stakeholder, multi-scalar and multi-sector collaboration, is key to supporting more sustainable urbanization processes.

To this end, FAO is supporting local governments of two cities in Kenya- Nairobi and Kisumu - to develop sustainable food systems with the support of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS). 

At the center of this process there will be evidence-based food system strategies and the promotion of participatory food governance mechanisms, acting as advisor of the decision makers on food systems related matters.
In addition, the project provides capacity building to advisory agents, supports the integration of food systems into local plans and implements innovative food system actions that promote urban-rural linkages and ensure food systems sustainability. 


The project is part of the Urban Food Agenda, which is a FAO corporate initiative aiming at supporting local governments in integrating food systems in local policy, plans and actions and it will be using the UFA approach and its guiding principles, namely: Rural-urban synergies, Social inclusion and equity, Resilience and sustainability, Food systems (inter)connections

The project has a special focus on two urban areas of Kenya: Nairobi City which is a purely urban area and Kisumu City which is an urban area located in a rural region.
Complexity of food systems, the number of activities and actors involved and the power relationships between actors demand a holistic and integrated approach to understand, analyse, plan and modify the food system, to make it sustainable and inclusive. The shift from a sectorial to a more integrated and systemic approach is at the core of the methodology used for formulating this project. 
The Food Systems planning is the strategy used to connect the various components of the food systems among them and with other non-food sectors.  The food systems strategy, in both Kisumu and Nairobi, is developed to guide the actions through an integrated and holistic approach.

Another key element of the strategy is the multi-stakeholders participatory approach utilized from the formulation up to the implementation phase of the project. The project will foster consultation of various stakeholders directly and indirectly involved in the food systems (including non-Governmental Organizations, private sector, Academy and Government at all levels) fostering dialogue and continuous engagement through the establishment of the Food Liaison Advisory Group.

Based on the Urban Food Agenda’s corporate approach, the project supports cities and local governments on the following 4 components:

  1. Urban Food Systems Analysis
  2. Establishment of a multi-stakeholder food governance mechanism and developing holistic action plans and strategies
  3. Innovative and integrated food systems actions identified, promoted and piloted
  4. Integrated food systems approach developed and globally promoted for strengthening the linkages across rural and urban communities

Contribution to SDGs

Expected results and activities

Actions for innovative food systems across rural-urban communities integrated

Food systems in selected communities in Kenya will become more inclusive and sustainable across the rural and urban areas. 


  1. Governments of Kenya and Italy and County governments of Nairobi and Kisumu
  2. Research and academic institutions
  3. Food system stakeholders who constitute the FLAG (Food Liaison Advisory Group)
  4. Other UN Agencies
  5. Local NGOs


County government extension agents, MSMEs and communities engaged in innovative sustainable food system practices, Food Liaison Advisory Group (FLAG).