Working paper: Food systems and diet-related non-communicable diseases in Kisumu, Kenya

Food Systems and Diet-related Non-Communicable Diseases in Kisumu, Kenya by researchers Paul Otieno Opiyo and Stephen Gaya Agong, is the third in a series of Nourishing Spaces working papers edited by Jane Battersby.

The Nourishing Spaces project seeks to develop community-led understanding of the nature and drivers of the local food system and its health impacts, and to contribute to city-scale policy interventions. The project focuses on ‘urban-scale research’ for addressing diet-related noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in six urban sites in South Africa (Cape Town and Kimberley), Kenya (Nairobi and Kisumu), and Namibia (Windhoek and Oshakati).

Based on the analysis of the neighbourhood food system of Kogony, an informal settlement in Kisumu with similar characteristics to other informal settlements in the area, this working paper recommends that the following measures be taken at the neighbourhood and city scales to improve food and nutrition security and reduce the risk of NCDs:

  1. City authorities should invest in modern markets that support traders in informal settlements to sell healthy foods. There are plans in Kisumu to expand and modernise Kibuye wholesale market and Jubilee retail market, and to build a new market at Otonglo. However, smaller neighbourhood markets like Riat and Kombedu should also be built to standards and provided with facilities that can support more traders to provide food to residents in sanitary conditions. This needs to be done through a participatory process that includes trader experiences and perspectives.
  2. Kisumu City is in the process of developing a detailed spatial plan for the extended areas of the city. Mixed land use is recommended for informal settlements in transition like Kogony. This should include commercial and residential premises, and support for informal food retailers to develop food retail outlets that comply with hygiene and safety standards within residential areas and along transport routes.
  3. Local government policy should focus on giving incentives to producers, supermarkets and other retailers dealing in healthy foods. Since agriculture and trade are devolved functions within the mandate of the county government, local government can promote healthy foods through subsidies for producers and the reduction of trade licence fees and market levies for traders dealing in healthy foods. The traders can be assisted to safely sell food by providing piped water and toilets near markets and other trading premises. Security can also be enhanced through the provision of lighting and involving traders in self-policing though their associations.