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The profits of livestock farming in Nairobi’s slums: Better health and wealth

Animals outside Josephine Napkonde's house in a slum in Nairobi

Sheep look for food outside the house of Josephine Napkonde, 78, who lives in a slum in Nairobi and looks after 5 children abandoned by a relative (photo on Flickr by HelpAge International/Frederic Courbet).

‘Kahawa Soweto is a slum on the northeast edge of Nairobi, Kenya. . . . It’s a densely packed area, and it’s not just people that live here.

We have [chickens] here,” says Regina Wangari as she opens the door to a shack that she recently converted into a coop. “Outside we have almost 20 of them – here in the ghetto.” . . .

‘In a tight alley behind her shack, she keeps a dozen goats. And in a shanty nearby, she has rabbit cages stacked from floor to ceiling. There are more than 400 rabbits in the small metal shack.

‘Raising livestock in the city isn’t new in sub-Saharan Africa, but it is a growing trend.

It’s on the increase and – in fact – increasing faster than the rate of urbanization,” says Diana Lee-Smith, a food policy expert with the Mazingira Institute, an urban farmers education and advocacy group based in Nairobi.

‘Lee-Smith says that, for years, many African governments staunchly opposed allowing farm animals in cities. That’s because the animals produce waste, can transmit diseases, and cause traffic accidents.

‘But Lee-Smith says, in the past few years, there’s been a shift in the attitudes of some governments – including Kenya’s.

‘“Local and central governments are beginning to adopt favorable and supportive policies,” she says.

‘That shift is partly due to the benefits of urban farming.

Livestock products are pretty perishable and hard to move around,” says Delia Grace, a public health researcher with the International Livestock Research Institute. She explains that in developing countries where there is little refrigeration, “it makes enormous sense to keep the livestock close [to the cities].”

‘Grace says the most important benefit of urban livestock in the developing world is its impact on childhood nutrition.

‘Studies have shown that urban children whose families own animals are healthier than children whose families do not. That’s because meat, eggs, and milk have protein and nutrients that are lacking in the diet that many Kenyan children subsist on – corn meal and cabbage. . . .’

Read the whole article by Anders Kelto and watch his short video at PRI’s The World: Farming livestock in African slums, 28 Jan 2013.

One thought on “The profits of livestock farming in Nairobi’s slums: Better health and wealth

  1. Pingback: Nibbles: Cluster archive, Plant Press, Tweet archive, Yet more quinoa, African viruses, African veggies, Slum livestock, Protected area monitor, Chinese rice variety

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