Farming Livestock in African Slums
Livestock in the Slum: A visit to an urban farm in Kenya
By Anders Kelto
PRI’s The World
Jan. 28, 2013
Anders Kelto is The World’s Africa Correspondent. He is based in Cape Town, South Africa, and reports on health and development issues. Prior to joining The World, he worked with NPR, the CBC, and National Geographic.
Kahawa Soweto is a slum on the northeast edge of Nairobi, Kenya. Children chase each other down a narrow dirt road, passing women with water jugs.
It’s a densely packed area, and it’s not just people that live here.
“We have [chickens] here,” says Regina Wangari as she opens the door to a shack that she recently converted into a coop. “Outside we have almost 20 of them – here in the ghetto.”
Wangari lets the chickens roam freely around the slum, nibbling on bits of garbage and grass.
She also raises other animals. In a tight alley behind her shack, she keeps a dozen goats.
And in a shanty nearby, she has rabbit cages stacked from floor to ceiling. There are more than 400 rabbits in the small metal shack.
Raising livestock in the city isn’t new in sub-Saharan Africa, but it is a growing trend.
“It’s on the increase and – in fact – increasing faster than the rate of urbanization,” says Diana Lee-Smith, a food policy expert with the Mazingira Institute, an urban farmers education and advocacy group based in Nairobi.
Lee-Smith says that, for years, many African governments staunchly opposed allowing farm animals in cities. That’s because the animals produce waste, can transmit diseases, and cause traffic accidents.