A4NH / Agri-Health / Animal Health / Books and chapters / Food Safety / FSZ / Ghana / ILRI / India / Kenya / Mozambique / Zoonotic Diseases

Slum livestock agriculture


TraylorBill_Composite2All artwork on this page by Bill Traylor.

Maria Teresa Correa, an epidemiologist and public health professor at North Carolina State University, and Delia Grace, a veterinary epidemiologist and food safety scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), have an interesting chapter on an interesting subject — Slum livestock agriculture — published in the Encyclopedia of Agriculture and Food Systems (2014).

Chapter abstract
‘Slums are unplanned squatter human settlements in peri-urban and urban areas where more than 800 million people live. These densely populated areas lack basic public services. Livestock raised in these conditions compete with humans for space and water, and pose a risk to human and animal health. Notwithstanding the risk of disease transmission, slum livestock agriculture plays an essential role in the livelihoods of people and deserves consideration in urban planning and policy making.’


Below are some of the arresting facts and figures authors Correa and Grace present (these bullets were edited and condensed for Twitter).


  • 800 million–1 billion people now live in slums.
  • Some slums have 200,000 people per square kilometre.
  • Slum livestock can help ensure food for the 1 in 7 people in the world who live in slums.
  • There are some 1000 zoonoses, or diseases transmitted from animals to humans.
  • But despite all the negatives, growing food and raising livestock in slums is a way to secure food, earn income and make a living.


  • ‘Informal’ markets are a mostly home-based, clandestine business model based on necessity.
  • Elimination of slums and the livestock in them is not feasible.
  • Banning livestock from cities may be inappropriate: Kampala ordinances seek to support urban agriculture.
  • Disaster and white-coat diplomacy plus communication should be considered for outreach work.



Chickens and pigs are favoured in Latin America slums, goats and rabbits in Africa and Southeast Asia, cows in India and Nepal.

  • In Ghana, 95% of the lettuce consumed in Accra is produced in urban and peri-urban areas.
  • In Lima‘s Chimbote slum, one-quarter of the 400,000 people operate 280 swine production units.
  • Among Maputo‘s 1.2 million inhabitants, more than 1 in 3 households raises livestock.
  • In Nairobi‘s Dagoretti slum, more than one-half of households keep animals: poultry (39%) sheep/goats (14%) pigs (10%) cattle (1%).
  • In Nepal meat is sold with identifiable body parts — e.g. hoof, horns — to guarantee the species being sold.
  • In some large slums such as in Delhi, slum goat sightings have become a tourist attraction and are offered as part of city tours. (Goats adapt to urban areas, eating almost anything: tree bark, street garbage and clothes hanging to dry.)


See more ILRI blog articles on slum livestock raising

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s