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What makes urban food policy happen? Insights from five case studies

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Nairobi (Kenya): Enabling Urban Agriculture Thanks To Constitutional Change And Civil Society Activism.
and
Detroit (USA): Obtaining new powers to regulate and promote urban agriculture.

Lead authors: Corinna Hawkes and Jess Halliday
By the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food).
2017

Excerpts:

2. Nairobi (Kenya): Enabling Urban Agriculture Thanks To Constitutional Change And Civil Society Activism.

As in many East African cities, urban agriculture has been a fixture of life for many poor resi-dents of Nairobi since the late 1970s and 1980s. Yet for many years the city government was vigorously opposed to it, and farmers’ efforts to feed their families were regularly disrupted by law enforcers on public health and land ownership grounds.

The Nairobi Urban Agriculture Promotion and Regulation Act 2015 represents a major u-turn in attitudes to urban food production at the city level. It came on the back of sustained civil society efforts to unify and amplify the voices of urban farmers and to build supportive relationships with national civil ser-vants. Moreover, institutional change following the adoption of Kenya’s constitution in 2010 led to the devolution of agriculture and reassignment of civil servants who were supportive of, and knowledgeable about, urban agriculture to the newly-formed Nairobi City County Government.

5. Detroit (USA): Obtaining new powers to regulate and promote urban agriculture

As jobs, tax dollars and residents have slowly drained out of Detroit over the last 60 years, urban agriculture has provided seeds of revival, putting vacant land to use and bringing fresh food to many neighbourhoods. Through the 2013 Urban Agriculture Ordinance, the city moved to regulate and support this burgeoning activity, but first it had to negotiate with state actors and the farm lobby, as previously authority over all agricultural activities, in both urban and rural areas, fell under the Michigan Right to Farm Act.

Detroit’s experience illustrates the pivotal role played by individuals with legitimacy in both urban planning circles and the food growing community, as well as the necessity of altering the policy process to enable participation of actors with divergent views. With take-up of the new permits still low, this case study also underlines the challenges of delivering a policy that truly engages and inspires the confidence of those it intends to benefit.

Read the complete report here.