Feeding cities and migration settlements - the Kibera case

The main aim of the project is to contribute to resilient, sustainable and urban food systems providing food and nutrition security for all. In the Kibera case, a new fish value-chain was set up from Nyeri county to Kibera, Nairobi, to supply a ton of small sized cheap fish suitable to the market in Kibera. First deliverable on 11.08.2020.

Stage of the project




Starting Up





Why was this project started?

The Feeding cities and migration settlement project is set up as a one Wageningen project (KB), for which four WUR research institutes contribute with different expertise (Wageningen Economic Research (WUR), Wageningen Center for Development Innovations, Wageningen Environmental Research and Wageningen Food and Biobased Research. It applies a food system approach, which is adapted to the specific purposes of this project. This project The project contributes to: Rural – urban food systems in Africa/ Asia – with outreach in Dhaka, Kampala, Nairobi, taking Rural - urban migration (informal settlements/ slums) into account. The one case conducted in Kibera, Nairobi, has with very good stakeholder engagement established a new value-chain of small sized fish from Nyeri (an until now not connected area to the slum), to supply Kibera with cheap affordable fish, by means of a viable business approach with high potentials for extension in future. This is pure implementation, for which a series of scientific analyses are carried out.

The results of the project so far

We have until now carried out:
1) Implementation: by setting up a new fish value-chain from Nyeri to Kibera (Kenya); a new food systems with direct effects on food supply to the very poorest (Kibera), sales opportunities of small sized fish for fish farmers in Nyeri and work for value-chain stakeholders (including fish vendors and young people contributing with the logistics);
2) Analyses and publications: A series of scientific reports and articles, based on qualitative and quantitative analyses, have been published in 2020. Surveys have been conducted and upcoming articles will will be published in a Special Issue called: Development of Resilient Urban Food Systems—Exploring Synergies and Making Priorities: https://www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability/special_issues/resilient_urban_food_systems
3) Advising: Together with stakeholders we are providing advise on food system transitions to governmental bodies at local, national, regional and international levels in Kenya, the Netherlands and abroad.

What are specific, distinctive, strong elements in this project?

This project has a strong element of connecting practice and science. A food system is not only discussed for different purposes and contexts at a generic and scientific level, but applied in practice in Nairobi, Kampala and Dhaka. Experiences have been made on practical implementation, strong stakeholder engagement has lead to low cost (actually WUR invested in 3 freezers and a workshop), and because local stakeholders are taking responsibilities, huge impacts on SDGs 2 and 11 have taken place with relatively little efforts. The results obtained in, for instance, Kibera has gained a lot of attention, especially because the implementation happened in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, with multiple additional challenges to be dealt with locally to make this happen. In addition, a total of 386 households have been interviewed in Kibera in August 2020, which creates a basis for a series of analyses on food system factors, and will lead to a series of scientific articles in 2021. Also in Kampala and Dhaka, household surveys will provide information of urban food system critical factors.

Which specific lessons, do's and don'ts would you like to share? What would be suggestions for others when preparing or implementing the project in their own city?

Some lessons learnt:
1) We experiences that working with stakeholders went very well because they felt ownership and were willing to contribute more than we asked for, they very much believed in the project.
2) We have learnt that the informal sector is supporting the formal sector, and that formalization not necessarily will solve the challenges. The informal sector often catches up where formalized governing works less optimal. We need to work with it, not against it.
3) We have seen that locals can be creative in solving multiple challenges with focusing on the most urgent barrier first.
4) We have seen that stakeholder involvement should ensure direct involvement of target groups to high extents, not by representatives of them only.
5) We have learnt that it is very possible to carry out work without being part of any kind of corruption, even though such challenge is highly appearing.
6) In our view, urban food system science gets a lot more interesting when the connect to contexts and realities get strong.

Have others adopted, or shown interest in adopting, your idea in their own area?

We have cooperated with FAO in all three cases, NGOs (e.g. Solidaridad), international programs (e.g. ABDP), county governors, ministries, etc. when presenting in a series of six Webinars (2 in each outreach area in Nairobi, Kampala and Dhaka). The audience was not only scientists, but also a variety of practitioners at all levels. We have gained a lot of interest in our outreach activities, scientific activities and interest in follow up of the results made.

Can you tell us how valuable this project was for you?

You can rank your answers on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest).

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1. How valuable was this information for you?
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2. Will you use this information in your own practice?
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3. Could this project be shared to - and implemented in - your own city?
No I won't
Yes I think so

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