Characteristics of the Urban Food System in Kisumu, Kenya
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Kisumu is the third-largest city in Kenya and its status as a transport and trade hub makes it an interesting city in the context of research on secondary cities in Africa. The city’s strategic location exposes it to both opportunities and challenges emanating from its complex growth and interaction with other parts of Kenya, and with neighbouring countries along the shores of Lake Victoria. This paper details three pieces of food-system-related research recently carried out in Kisumu and highlights the operating practices of food retailers, paying particular attention to informal food traders, who are traditionally viewed as unincorporated and operating from informal structures. It describes the nature and role of informal food retail in the food systems of Kisumu. The study’s findings note the dominance of women in the trade, as has been reported in previous studies. It was also found that women not only dominate the landscape of informal food retail, but are also more likely to engage in it as a long-term livelihood strategy compared to their male counterparts, whose participation is relatively transient in nature. Governing urban food systems to reduce food poverty and promote livelihood security will entail mapping out these complex dynamics and embedding them into policy making and programmatic interventions to promote inclusive and sustainable urban development. Kisumu’s high levels of food insecurity, compounded by low levels of dietary diversity, present a longterm development challenge for the city, the county and the wider region. The informal food economy is a key point of food access and its absence would precipitate far higher levels of food insecurity. The reverse argument also holds true: it is reasonable to assert that improving the informal food economy’s operations could play a significant role in reducing food insecurity in Kisumu.
CitationOpiyo, Paul; Ogindo, Harun; Otiende, Frankline; and Fuseini, Issahaka (2018), Characteristics of the Urban Food System in Kisumu, Kenya, Consuming Urban Poverty Project Working Paper No. 5, African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town
Rights holder© Paul Opiyo, Harun Ogindo, Frankline Otiende and Issahaka Fuseini 2018
- Urban/Rural