An assessment of the contribution of urban agriculture to households’ livelihoods in Roysambu Ward, Nairobi County.
Githugunyi, Dickson Kibata
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Urban agriculture plays a significant role in national development by contributing towards food security, employment creation and income generation. However, it is associated with diverse negative impacts on public health and the environment. Development of UA has been affected by lack of specific laws and policies geared towards addressing the development this important sub- sector. However, various legislations refer individually to the sub-sector. Some of these legislations indirectly support or hinder the growth and development of the sub sector. Despite these shortcomings UA has continued unabated in most parts of Nairobi. Many households in Nairobi are facing a serious decline in their purchasing power and poverty levels are on the rise. The poorer the household the more they depend on farming to supplement their food requirements. As Nairobi metropolis expands, it encroaches on the hither to agricultural areas in its periphery. These areas are an integral part of the city as they provide the bulk of the food especially vegetables to the city. Their close proximity to the city provides ready market for farm produce and hence encourages peri- urban agriculture. This study examined the contribution of urban agriculture to households’ livelihoods in Nairobi County. It covered various aspects such as legal and policy framework, problems affecting development of UA, trends and patterns of land use in Nairobi and its implications on UA and finally came up with an integrated plan for sustainable urban agriculture in Roysambu Ward. The Sampling frame for the study comprised of farmers in Roysambu Ward, a number of institutions and farmer groups in Roysambu Ward. Primary data was derived from field surveys using questionnaires, key informants interviews and focused group discussions. A sample size of 90 was used for household interviews, 5 institutions interviewed and 3 focused group discussions held. Secondary data was synthesized from books, journals, newsletters, electronic media and Government policy papers. Landsat satellite images were used to obtain the land use trends in Nairobi. Probability and non-probability sampling methods were used in data collection. Quantitative data was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Scientists whereas qualitative data was analysed either in text, diagrams or photographs. GIS generated maps were analysed to capture land use trends over the last 20 years ie year 1995 to year 2014.Review of legal and policy framework revealed that there is a dire need to harmonize all the conflicting pieces of legislation governing UA in Kenya and this can only be achieved by bringing all stakeholders on board. UA policy is also overdue. The trend of UA in Nairobi County showed a decline of 28% of the area under forests and crops compared to an increase of 35% of the area under built up areas over the last 20 years. This shows that all the hither to agricultural areas in the County will soon be taken up by the built up areas. However UA remains popular especially among the urban poor because of food security and income generation. Some middle and upper income people also prefer growing their own food for food safety reasons. Health and environmental concerns were noted especially in the low income areas of Mathare, Ruaraka and Njathaini which reinforces the fact the UA should be controlled if not outlawed in these areas. It is strongly recommended that agricultural areas in the study area and in Nairobi County should be designated so that they are easily controlled. Investments should be done in the City waste management to allow use of treated liquid and solid waste, while building capacity of farmers on its utilization. This may involve integration of UA in the City land use planning.