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Category — Africa

How to grow food in a slum: lessons from the sack farmers of Kibera, Kenya

Fred Onserio, headmaster of Stara rescue centre and school, waters vegetables in the sack gardens in the school grounds. Photograph: Patrick Mayoyo/Africa Eco News

A Kenyan government initiative is helping a growing community of residents to tackle food insecurity in one of the largest slum areas in Africa

Patrick Mayoyo in Nairobi
The Guardian
18 May 2015


Farming in a slum, however, inevitably has its complications. Not only is land and space scarce, but finding areas free from contamination can also be a challenge.

According to Eva Kadzo, a public health officer and community strategist with the ministry of health, sack farming in Kibera has helped discourage people from planting crops near dump sites and sewers, which had been a common practice in the area. Many of the sewers contain heavy metals such as lead and mercury, creating a health risk to those who consume vegetables grown near them.

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May 24, 2015   No Comments

Sana’a Yemen, 2010 – Woman Teacher Giving Gardening Lessons

Photo by Salwa. Click on image for larger file.

Teaching horticulture in Yeman

Information from Salwa from ‘Food for Cities’
May 21, 2015

Excerpt from letter:

I have few pictures of a lady school teacher with scholars (around 12 years old boys) in a public garden in Sana’a Yemen in 2010; they take lessons in gardening and are assigned a plot to plant and visit on a regular basis in the public garden; I don’t have more information, I only met them once by chance while I was working on an urban Agriculture project with RUAF foundation and my university in Beirut; unfortunately, there is war now in Yemen.

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May 22, 2015   No Comments

Shanghai’s Green Ring Generates Half of The City’s Food


Update May 2015 – RUAF – Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security

This RUAF Update informs you about our latest activities including:

Ongoing activities:
• CITYFOOD network
• Milan Urban Food Policy Pact
• CityFoodTools workshop on city region food system assessment
• Role of urban agriculture in working with refugees in Jordan
• WABEF: using slaughterhouse waste for bio-energy production
• Successful course on Food Security in an Urbanising Society
• Young Expert Programme

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May 18, 2015   No Comments

Managing change and building resilience: A multi-stressor analysis of urban and peri-urban agriculture in Africa and Asia

Tending the garden, Sichuan, China, ca.1940-1950.

Resilience of UPA systems is being undermined by urban growth pressures

By Jon Padghama, Jason Jabbourb, Katie Dietrichc,
Urban Climate
Volume 12, June 2015, Pages 183–204

START and UNEP, along with several partners in Africa and South Asia, recently completed a 9-city assessment of urban and peri-urban agriculture that focused on the environmental dimensions of UPA. An article in Urban Climate synthesizing the findings of the assessment is available here. The article examines how poor governance, haphazard urban growth patterns and extreme events are amplifying impacts on UPA systems that may undermine the capacity of UPA systems to meet urban food as well as adaptation needs.

The assessments can be accessed at

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May 16, 2015   No Comments

‘Guerrilla gardening’ takes root in hunger-hit Mali, Africa

A man selling garden hoes rests by the side of the road in Mali”s capital Bamako June 14, 2005.

The small group of farmers working on a series of plots use makeshift plastic hoses to pump water from the Niger River onto their rows of broccoli, cabbage and other green vegetables.

By Chris Arsenault
Reuters Africa
April 29, 2015


BAMAKO, Mali, April 29 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – On the green banks of the Niger River in downtown Bamako alongside heavily guarded foreign hotels, a group of urban farmers busily weed and water vegetables on some of Mali’s prime real-estate.

The “guerrilla growers” do not own the land they’re cultivating but property rules aren’t stopping them from trying to feed themselves in one of the world’s poorest countries.

In North America and Europe “guerrilla gardening” usually means an act of political protest against industrialised food production or a lack of green space but in Bamako and across Africa the growing trend for urban gardens is about survival.

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May 7, 2015   Comments Off on ‘Guerrilla gardening’ takes root in hunger-hit Mali, Africa

Hydroponic agriculture turns Kenyan homes into gardens


“I grow tomatoes, kale and spinach, which saves me time and money,” she said. “The crops mature faster [with hydroponics] when compared to growing them on a farm.”

World Bulletin
April 6, 2015


We teach farmers how to utilize the vertical spaces in their homes,” Mwangi, the hydroponics expert, told.

Kimani Kemboi runs a pharmacy at Aga Khan University Hospital and lives in Westlands, an affluent Nairobi neighborhood.

“For every household in Nairobi, space is an issue,” he told. “Unlike other towns, Nairobi is not an agricultural town.”

Kemboi first heard about hydroponics from a friend who uses it to grow fodder for his animals in Kikuyu, a town in Kenya’s Kiambu County.

“After visiting him, I decided to make a small kitchen garden for myself,” he said.

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April 14, 2015   Comments Off on Hydroponic agriculture turns Kenyan homes into gardens

Review Paper on ‘Garden Kits’ in Africa


Lessons Learned and the Potential of Improved Water Management

By Douglas J. Merrey and Simon Langan
International Water Management Institute
2014. 60 pages


The purpose of this paper is to synthesize available knowledge and lessons learned from past experiences in promoting kitchen or home gardens, with a special emphasis on water management. The paper has been prepared based on an extensive desk study. It focuses on gardens whose primary purpose is production of food and, at times, growing herbs and spices for home consumption.

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April 10, 2015   Comments Off on Review Paper on ‘Garden Kits’ in Africa

Nine-city assessment of Urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) in Africa and Asia.


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Kampala, Uganda
Dakar, Senegal
Ibadan, Nigeria
Tamale, Ghana,
Chennai, India
Kathmandu, Nepal
Dhaka, Bangladesh

Enhancing scientific capacity to inspire informed action on global environmental change

Urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) faces significant pressures from rapid urban expansion and related stresses. START and UNEP recently partnered with several organizations to undertake a nine-city assessment of UPA in Africa and Asia. The assessments examined key environmental and governance dimensions of UPA to advance understanding of how increasing urban pressures on land and water resources, and intensifying climate risks, are undermining the resilience of UPA in the face of rapid urban development.

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February 22, 2015   Comments Off on Nine-city assessment of Urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) in Africa and Asia.

Ghana, Africa – Hunger looms; Due to unregulated sale of farmlands for housing around cities

Market in the city of Tamale, Ghana

“A few years ago, peri-urban farming provided enough vegetables to feed Accra, but today we import vegetables from Burkina Faso.”

Feb 21, 2015


Ghana’s 1.7 million housing deficit means that increasing demand for housing is competing with farmlands particularly in peri-urban areas such as Dodowa, Pokuase, Amasaman, Ningo-Prampram and Afienya where farmlands are shrinking.

Although data on how much farmlands the country is losing is hard to come by, the country’s estimated 14 million-hectare agriculture land, out of which six million is lying fallow, continues to be under threat due to the urban drift that has increased demand for homes.

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February 22, 2015   Comments Off on Ghana, Africa – Hunger looms; Due to unregulated sale of farmlands for housing around cities

‘City Seeds’ documentary – Urban Farming in Nepal and Uganda

City Seeds from Kyle Robinson on Vimeo.

Excellent 25 minute documentary!

Film by Kyle Robinson
Sustainable Seas Trust
Funding from START, European Commission, UN Environment Program, US Agency for International Development
(Must see! Mike)

A film about urban and peri-urban agriculture in cities across the world.

This film investigates the use of urban and peri-urban agriculture in developing cities in Africa and Asia, such as Kathmandu in Nepal, and Kampala in Uganda. The film assesses its value to a country’s economy and combating environmental threats such as climate change, as well as addressing the challenges involved in nurturing and sustaining effective urban and peri-urban agriculture.

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February 22, 2015   Comments Off on ‘City Seeds’ documentary – Urban Farming in Nepal and Uganda

Update 23 – Resource Centre /Urban Agriculture/Food Security (RUAF)


RUAF Update 23 – Feb 2015


Ongoing activities
• GROW the City Cafés in the Netherlands
• UA Enterprise development in India
• Promoting market oriented urban agriculture in Gaza
• Urban food mapping and WASH in Burkina Faso and Ghana
• WASH progress in Nepal and Bangladesh and the World Water Day

New projects
• Urban Green Education for Enterprising Agricultural Innovation
• Support to the City of Milan and other cities in urban food planning
• Developing tools for mapping and assessing sustainable city region food systems
• Supporting enterprises for urban waste recycling for food production

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February 16, 2015   Comments Off on Update 23 – Resource Centre /Urban Agriculture/Food Security (RUAF)

Zimbabwe: A “new” farmer has emerged in urban areas

Growing vegetable crops within towns and cities, to supply urban markets, is becoming increasingly popular. Photo by FAO/Erick-Christian Ahounou.

City by-laws support urban farming which is the reason we have agro zones in Harare such as the Hogerty Hills, Waterfalls, Tynwald, parts of Borrowdale, Marlborough and Hatfield.

By Sydney Kawadza
All Africa The Herald
Jan 22, 2015
(Must read. Mike)


The 62-year-old grandmother who stays in Mufakose said she has had her plot since 2009 and has been feeding her family from that land.

“The plot has helps me feed my family. I have never bought any maize meal for all these years. Even in drier years I have managed to harvest enough to take me to the following year,” Mrs Zirangwa said.

She currently lives with seven relatives at her home. There are several challenges associated with urban agriculture.

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January 31, 2015   Comments Off on Zimbabwe: A “new” farmer has emerged in urban areas

City Farming In Sana’a, Yemen: A Hobby With Potential

Introducing rural practices to an urban environment carries risks, but it may help solve Yemen’s chronic food insecurity.

According to WFP statistics, the average price for a sheep in Sana’a was at least YR39,000 ($181) at the end of 2014, which represented a 30 percent increase on the previous year.

By Nasser Al-Sakkaf (author), Mohammed Al-Samawi (photographer)
Yemen Times
26 January 2015


He has been city farming ever since, and says the company of his sheep help him feel closer to home. “We are used to raising sheep, I don’t think I would be able to live without doing so. Every day I clean after them, I give them feed and even our leftovers.”

As a matter of necessity, Muhammad’s relationship with his sheep has grown increasingly intimate. Following several cases of theft amongst urban sheep herders in 2012, he decided to move his flock of ten sheep into the third floor of his house, where they remain today.

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January 27, 2015   Comments Off on City Farming In Sana’a, Yemen: A Hobby With Potential

Healthy city harvests: Generating evidence to guide policy on urban agriculture


This book asks questions about the contribution of urban agriculture to food security of urban households, about the safety of crops and animal foods from urban producers in different places, and about ways of developing policy to promote safe and healthy food production.

Editors: Donald Cole • Diana Lee-Smith • George Nasinyama
International Potato Center (CIP) and Makerere University Press, 2008
260 pages

Excerpt from Forward by Richard Stren:

From the perspective of local governments, this is one of the first books which explores, in a truly multidisciplinary fashion, the complex range of issues which both help explain why urban agriculture takes place, and looks carefully at the important obstacles to its effective uptake in a particular local context. From different professional viewpoints we learn about health benefits of urban farming for children’s nutritional status, about health risks from heavy metal and organic contaminants in food and about the proper management of urban livestock to reduce risk. We also learn about the history of public health efforts to control illness and disease in 19th century Europe and America, as a backdrop to the construction of colonial building and public health regulations that were commonplace in African cities by the 1940s.

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January 23, 2015   Comments Off on Healthy city harvests: Generating evidence to guide policy on urban agriculture

Are school meals the new gourmet cuisine in Tanzania?

Students of Mbuyoni primary school pick vegetables to be cooked for lunch that day.

Among the 8 million children under five years old estimated to be living in Tanzania, 42 per cent are stunted and 16 per cent are underweight, according to UNICEF.

By Meera Senthilingam,
December 22, 2014


It’s 06:30am and the sun has just risen over the bustling gardens of Mbuyoni elementary school, in the coastal city of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

On this sunny morning, fits of giggles and screeches of laughter fill the hot and humid air, as would be expected in most schools around the world. But the source of fun is somewhat less expected — farming.

“I like to grow blackjack, fame flower, pumpkin leaves and sweet potatoes,” explains 11-year old Zulfa Mussa in her native language of Kiswahili.

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January 5, 2015   Comments Off on Are school meals the new gourmet cuisine in Tanzania?