A decade ago the Nairobi Food Security, Agriculture and Livestock Forum – NEFSALF – began advocating for recognition of urban agriculture. At the time, urban farmers were frequently harassed and not provided with any support.
The Forum, located at Mazingira Institute, Nairobi, a Kenyan NGO convenes a wide range of stakeholders. It has also trained about three thousand urban farmers. A farmers’ network has been organized with youth and women’s hubs, and a formal mentoring program to train other farmers.
The farmers, young and old, make the most of limited space in the city to grow food to eat and for sale and to keep livestock. Urban farming is being transformed from an illegal and low status activity to a healthy occupation that also makes money – a great business opportunity. In the last few months the Nairobi City Council that opposed urban farming has also transformed into the Nairobi City County government that supports it.
For the last two years Rooftops Canada – Abri International, with support from the Canadian government, has been supporting Mazingira’s program, with an emphasis on building the capacity of youth and women. Together, we are also exploring how to better plan housing projects and slum upgrading to support urban food production. We are also working with the cities of Toronto and Cape Town, academic and NGO partners to develop an urban food course that will encourage municipal officials to support urban agriculture.
ICON Media, a partner of Rooftops Canada, produced a series of videos on the Nairobi farmers experience. The energy and dedication of the farmers makes these clips well worth watching, to see how they bring to reality Mazingira’s vision of mobilizing knowledge for transformation, human dignity and the environment.