Urban agriculture, social capital, and food security in the Kibera slums of Nairobi, Kenya

Citation:
Gallaher CM, Kerr JM, Njenga M, Karanja NK, WinklerPrins AMGA. "Urban agriculture, social capital, and food security in the Kibera slums of Nairobi, Kenya." Journal of the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society. 2013;30(3):389-404.

Much of the developingworld, including Kenya, is rapidly urbanizing. Rising food and fuel prices in recent years have put the food security of the urban poor in a precarious position. In citiesworldwide, urban agriculture helps some poor people gain access to food, but urban agriculture is less common in densely populated slums that lack space. In the Kibera slums of Nairobi, Kenya, households have recently begun a new form of urban agriculture called sack gardening in which vegetables such as kale and Swiss chard are planted into large sacks filled with topsoil. This paper examines relationships among sack gardening, social capital, and food security in Kibera. We used a mixed methods approach, combining qualitative interviewswith a household survey, aswell as focus group discussions with both farmers and non-farmers. We
present evidence that sack gardening increases social capital, especially for those households that undertake sack gardening in groups.We also find that sack gardening in the Kibera slums has a positive impact on household food security by improving household dietary diversity and by reducing the need to resort to painful coping mechanisms that are used during food shortages.

Keywords: Urban agriculture  Food security  Dietary diversity  Social capital  Kibera slums  Kenya

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