Urban food systems and rural relations

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Thematic Focus:
Agriculture, Biodiversity and Sustainability
Involved Countries:
Switzerland, Kenya

Is Affiliated to:
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Received Funding By:

The aim of the proposed activities is to build up strong research links through the development of an innovative multi-disciplinary research approach on urban-rural/regional food systems in Kenya. Furthermore, through the development of common field classes and teaching knowledge exchange on multiple levels is expected to improve. Opportunities to develop online teaching courses and platforms for knowledge exchange and discussion are being explored.

Research in urban agriculture has been on the rise since since the UNDP report on Urban Agriculture in the 1990s. With an increasing urban population, expected to reach about 50% and more in Africa by 2030, the importance of research on sustainable food production systems, as well as a moderation of the influence of the urbanization process on the rural areas is increasing. In this regard, there is need for a holistic ecosystems-based approach for urban-rural/regional food systems that guarantee food security among urban households, contribute to poverty alleviation and that are integrated in spatial planning, which strengthen urban resilience. The global differences in economic development, ecologic conditions and infrastructure also require distinguishing regions in different geographic settings, in particular to distinguish industrialized and industrializing countries from those relying more strongly on first sector and service economies. The proposed collaborative research efforts therefore aim specifically to contribute to the understanding of secure urban food supply in eastern Africa.

The activities proposed for this kick-starting grant include:

1. A visit of L. Bloemertz to Kenya (10 days): Preparation of the field research campaign and the workshop together with A. Awiti.

2. Visit of L. Bloemertz and N. Kuhn to Kenya (17 days):

a) Joint field research campaign with students of University of Basel and Aga Khan University: Allowing for multidisciplinary research and intercultural exchange for the development of joint research frameworks and teaching material.
b) Joint workshop: Stakeholder discussion around urban food system and exploration of assessment methods and presentation of the results of the field campaign. The workshop is followed the joint field research and is open to the students who participated in the field research.

3. Visit of A. Awiti to Switzerland: Development of a joint research proposal to the SNF in April 2016 for two PhD students (ideally one from each country) and strengthening of institutional ties.

-Lena Bloemertz, MSc, Physical Geography and Environmental Change, University of Basel

-Prof. Alex O. Awiti, East African Institute of the Aga Khan University, Kenya