Urban Dynamics of Food Loss and Waste: Challenges and Opportunities for Improving Food Security in Kisumu, Kenya


The 21st Century has witnessed a rapid growth in global population characterised by an increasing proportion of urban dwellers. While feeding this growing urban population is a challenge, estimates indicate that one-third of all food produced in the world gets lost or wasted. This study, premised on the FAO conceptual framework of food loss and food waste, sought to identify the linkages between urban dynamics and the causes of food loss and waste along the food supply chain. The study involved data mining, review, thematic analysis and integration of both primary and secondary data from three research projects conducted in Kisumu by Kisumu Local Interaction Platform (KLIP). The study found that Kisumu city and the wider county is deficient in food production; more than 65% of the city population resides in informal settlements, with inadequate infrastructure and services; and food insecurity is prevalent. Though accurate quantitative data was not available on the food lost at the various stages of the supply chain, food losses were noted at the all stages. Food losses at production and post harvest handling stages were caused by flooding, pests, and contamination. Food losses during processing were minimal due to fewer food processing industries in the city. Most food products from small scale producers were transported via public road transport, often without proper packaging leading to physical damage and contamination. At the market stage, inadequacy of food storage and preservation facilities led to food losses. At the consumption stage, food waste was low due to poverty as households generally buy smaller amounts of food on a day to day basis. However, some food is wasted in restaurants patronized by middle and upper income segments of the population. Reducing loss and waste across the food value chain can contribute to improving food and nutrition security.