Kibera is one of Africa’s largest and poorest urban areas. But residents there have found an innovative way to tackle food insecurity. Their method? Urban farms that feature sacks.

What are sack farms? Actual sacks, filled with manure, soil and stones for water drainage. “From the tops and sides of these sacks, often referred to as multi-storey gardens, farmers in Kibera grow kale, spinach, onions, tomatoes, vegetables and arrowroot.”

The idea is the result of a recent initiative of the National Youth Service (NYS), a government agency. The method is inexpensive and may provide a partial solution to the vexing issues of food insecurity, rampant unemployment and poverty that challenge area residents.

Patrick Mayoyo (@pmayoyo) reports from Nairobi in this dispatch for The Guardian:


Ramadhan Abdulrahman, 25, is one of these farmers. Before being contracted by the NYS to take care of the vegetables in a local sack garden, he was unemployed. Today he earns a stipend of 6,592 shillings per month and saves up to Sh1,200 per week.

“Before this sack farming project was introduced here I used to use between Sh280 and Sh420 to buy vegetables per week, but I now use the money to buy other foodstuff,” he said, adding that he used to struggle to feed himself. Through his sack farming he now feels more assured of getting at least one decent meal a day.

Government officials are paying close attention to the project, and may expand it as a means of addressing growing hunger in urban areas, a significant problem for the nation. It’s estimated by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net) that nearly 40% of Kenya’s urban population experiences chronic food insecurity.

An important piece.


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