EA Dialogue Series
True, Huston. Got any ideas yourself?
Two major determinants of a country’s environmental impact are the nature of its food economy, and its transport systems. Though they are not usually bracketed together, they are becoming closer and closer intertwined. As cities grow due to rapid urbanization and increased population growth rates, food production has not kept pace. There is need to produce more food sustainably and do so close to where populations live. This is one of the main factors that has led to the emergence of urban food systems thinking.
Since Kenya is currently engaged in discussions on several land bills, there is a section on urban and peri urban agriculture as a land use. The policy development process included stakeholders, thus providing the chance to incorporate these concerns in a systematic way. However, other reasons why urban and peri urban agriculture can be a problem in urban planning, including not only the health risks, but other aspects such as insecurity where criminals can use maize plantations as cover or hideouts. There is competition between agriculture and housing as urban and peri-urban land uses, with housing having a higher economic return. Urban and peri-urban agriculture are perceived as essentially temporary or transient land uses; therefore, there is need to look at urban and peri urban agriculture in the context of urban and regional planning.
Above all, there is need for clear and comprehensive data on the current patterns of urban and peri urban agriculture on which to base the understanding of urban and peri urban agriculture as a phenomenon before developing land use policy for it.
The urban food systems project aims to promote a more localized urban food production system based on sustainable urban agriculture with a legal mandate for promotion and regulation. The East African Institute is responding by bridging the knowledge and information gap through evidence-based research, and by providing a platform for stakeholders to engage in the conversation that links consumption patterns to sustainable food production and improved urban livelihoods. This paves way for a more legally grounded, longer term, better financed, environmentally conscious and designed spatial responses by relevant players in addressing one overriding issue: feeding people living in cities while minimizing the ecological footprint of their food procurement systems.
The video below documents the journey taken by the EAI as we explore the nature of Urban Farming in Nairobi as a viable sustainable food production movement for the region.