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Programs and Partners

Urban Food Security, Urban Agriculture and Housing Spaces

Programs and Partners

Over half the world’s population -- more people than ever before -- are living in urban areas. In the developing world, about 900 million people live in urban slums. In Sub-Saharan Africa, six out of every ten urban dwellers, 200 million people, suffer from poverty, deprivation and inadequate housing. Almost half of the people living in African slums are malnourished.


In 2010 Rooftops Canada and its Kenyan partner, Mazingira Institute, initiated a pilot exchange program on urban agriculture between Nairobi, Cape Town and Toronto. Visits and workshops in the three cities involved dozens of local organizations, universities and municipal government departments. A youth-focused exchange in Nairobi promoted skills development and entrepreneurship. The program also reflected the importance of gardens for building community in South African and Canadian social housing. Interns and technical advisors helped document local practices and develop resource materials. Two important themes emerged from the process – the need for a supportive enabling environment for urban food activities and the challenge of integrating youth to create employment.   


The three-year pilot also led to a sharper focus on urban food security, urban agriculture and housing spaces. Ongoing programming will support the integration of broader food systems thinking into urban food production, processing and sales both in green field housing projects and in slum upgrading. This will stimulate local economic growth and build more resilient communities. Program resources will also be shared with housing partners in Tanzania and Zimbabwe.   


Rooftops Canada and Mazingira Institute are working with many partners to develop a municipal food course which will help local officials work together and with community partners. These include the City of Cape Town, Ryerson University and the University of Cape Town. Special thanks are due to the food strategy team at Toronto Public Health.


Related Links

Urban Farms Grow Homes

Food Insecurity in Cape Town

Mazingira Urban Vegetables farming

African and Canadian Youth Connect on Urban Food Security

International Youth Exchange UFS Album

Food for the Cities 

Urban Agriculture Africa-Toronto Exchange visit report
Urban Agriculture and food Security Africa -Toronto Workshop report
Urban Food Security PowerPoint
Urban Food Security Visit-Nairobi Photo Album 
NEFSALF Bulletin #13