Kisumu street trading scene. Photo by Samantha Reinders

New policy brief on the impact of Covid-19 on food security in Kisumu, Kenya

Over-reliance on food imports from other regions of Kenya and neighbouring countries leaves Kisumu city vulnerable to food insecurity should there be any disruptions in the supply chain such as been highlighted by the current pandemic.

This is one of the key findings, in a new policy brief by Stephen Agong and Paul Opiyo co-published by the IDRC-funded Nourishing Spaces Project and the ESRC/ DfID-funded Consuming Urban Poverty Project.

The authors make several recommendations for the both the short and long term to ensure greater food security for city’s population. While food provision to vulnerable households has been supported through national government as well as non-governmental and private initiatives, the need outstrips the aid. Since the majority of livelihoods in the city rely on the informal economy, the recommendation is that the county government should proactively support informal sector traders by providing a safe trading environment for themselves and their customers.

Greater long term resilience should be built by linking production sources and consumption; and provide urban infrastructure and services that support informal food retailers to comply with food safety and hygiene regulations. The County government should prioritise provision of fresh produce markets with adequate food preservation facilities and integrate food retail sites and transport nodes.

These measures will not only improve physical access to food but also create job opportunities in the food retail sector further enhancing food and nutrition security.