Increasing food security through urban farming in Nairobi
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As any visitor to Kenya's capital can see, farming activities are everywhere, not only in the outskirts but also in the heart of the city. Along roadsides, in the middle of roundabouts, along and between railway lines, in parks, along rivers, under power lines, in short, in all kinds of open public spaces, crops are cultivated and animals like cattle, goats and sheep roam around. What most visitors do not see is that there is even more farming, notably in backyards in the residential areas. People of all socio-economic classes grow food whenever and wherever possible. This paper is based on the four studies that have been carried out thus far on urban farming in Nairobi.1 By “urban farming”, we mean any farming activity within the city boundaries2, including the cultivation of food and cash crops, animal husbandry, forestry and the production of flowers and garden plants. Nairobi is located at the southern end of Kenya's Central Highlands and lies at an altitude of between 1600 and 1800 metres above sea level (Ng'ang'a 1992). Mean annual temperature is 17oC, while the mean daily maximum and minimum are 23oC and 12oC, respectively (Situma 1992). Mean annual rainfall ranges from about 800 to about 1,050 mm, depending on altitude (Ng'ang'a 1992). Most of it falls in two distinct seasons: the long rains from mid-March to June and the short rains from mid-October to early December. The present population of Kenya is estimated to be about 30 million. The average population growth between 1980 and 1993 was 3.3%. Due to the large influx of people from the rural areas, the population of Nairobi grew much faster, from half a million in 1969 (Kenya 1971) to an estimated 2 million in 1998 (Kenya 1996a). Most of the migrants end up in one of the low-income areas of the city. Almost half (47%) of Nairobi's population live in very-low-income neighbourhoods (Jones et al. 1995). Population densities can reach values of more than 30,000 persons/km2. One of the highest densities is found in Korogocho Sub-Location, where in 1989 more than 44,000 people were packed together in an area of about one km2 (Kenya 1994). Such “informal” or “uncontrolled” residential areas, as they are usually called, can be found as “pockets” all over the city (Syagga & Kiamba 1992).