Nairobi, Kenya
City population: 4397000
Duration: 2007 – ongoing
Implementation status: Ongoing
Scale: Micro-scale: District/neighbourhood level
Project area: unknown
Type of area: Previous derelict area, Residental
Last updated: March 2022

Kibera is Nairobi's largest slum/informal settlement. Kibera houses about 250,000 people and is the biggest slum in Africa and one of the biggest in the world. The Government owns all the land in this settlement. 10% of people are shack owners and many of these people own many other shacks and let them out to tenants. The remaining 90% of residents are tenants with no rights. Most of the inhabitants confront themselves with a food crisis. The project at Kibera is a recent initiative of the National Youth Service (NYS), a government agency that promotes youth affairs through the ministry of devolution and planning. The approach is seen as a cheap and healthy solution to food insecurity and runaway unemployment in Nairobi’s slum. The project also addresses climate change as food insecurity is related to an intense period of droughts: longer periods of drought (likely a result of climate change) in sub-Saharan Africa, meant the farmers had to depend on rainfall to water their crops. From a biodiversity point of view, the project will help with the urban biodiversity restoration (1,3)

After intervention - photo


Nature-based solution

  • Community gardens and allotments
  • Allotments
  • Community gardens
  • Horticulture

Key challenges

  • Climate action for adaptation, resilience and mitigation (SDG 13)
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Green space, habitats and biodiversity (SDG 15)
  • Green space creation and/or management
  • Water management (SDG 6)
  • Flood protection
  • Economic development and employment (SDG 8)
  • Economic development: agriculture
  • Sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12)
  • Sustainable consumption
  • Sustainable production


Creation of new green areas, Knowledge creation and awareness raising

Project objectives

Urban agriculture in Nairobi is practiced in backyard farms, on open spaces under power lines, along roadsides, railway lines and riverbanks as well as on institutional land. In the mid 1980s, when the urban population reached one million mark, 20% of Nairobi households were growing crops and 17% kept livestock within the city limits. It is estimated that 30% of households in Nairobi are involved in urban farming. The present project has as goals the following: 1. To create social value by the promotion of value-chain development and direct producer– consumer marketing. 2. To provide pluvial flood regulation: Outdoor urban farms increase the amount of pervious surface, and can capture, store, and infiltrate rainwater, reducing runoff. 3. To provide heat regulation: Urban agricultural areas reduce urban heat by creating shade and have an ameliorating effect on the immediate local climate, and in the case of arid climates, increased humidity. 4. To promote the sack gardening technique. 5. To impact biodiversity at all levels: insects, crops, opportunistic plants etc. (1,2,3,4,5)

Implementation activities

This is a project that dates back to the 1980s as peri-urban agriculture has always been an integral part in the lives of inhabitants around big cities. In the early 2000s parts of the slam were considered garbage dumps. More than 1,000 people started growing food in a similar way (so, tall sacks, filled with dirt, and people grow crops in them on different levels by poking holes in the bags and planting seeds)–something that Red Cross International recognized during 2007 and 2008 when there was conflict in the slums of Nairobi. No food could come into these areas, but most residents didn’t go without food because so many of them were growing crops–in sacks, vacant land, or elsewhere. The urban farmers grow vegetables such as spinach, kale, green onions and tomatoes, a source of important nutrients to supplement diets dominated by ugali maize meal. The surplus is sold in markets to boost daily income. Small plots were voluntarily given by the communities (without compensation) for the establishment of nursery beds. Solidarités provides the seeds, and community mobi- lisers support the community members in management of the nurseries. It takes at least three weeks for the seedlings to mature enough to be transplanted into the sacks or kitchen gardens. And already at this stage community participation is impor- tant. It is important to explain that the seedlings will be distributed for free to community members who qualify as per the selection criteria. In the context of a slum, crops with a short growing period and long-term benefits are needed. For instance, in the first phase of the programme it was noted that (crop bulb) onions took too long to mature, so the participants opted for leafy onions. Furthermore, the quality of the soil and water for irri-gation present challenges. However difficult, it is important to ensure that hygiene and good sanitation are practiced, especially near the seedbeds, to prevent contamination. Throughout the years different international and local organisations provided support to inhabitants and therefore the project is still ongoing. (2,3,4)

Climate-focused activities

Climate change adaptation:

  • Implement solutions to capture/store water to increase its availability and prevent shortages from droughts
  • Increase or improve urban vegetation cover to help reduce outdoor temperature
  • Create or improve outdoor spaces to help people escape from urban heat
  • Increase the use of climate-resilient plant species (resistant to drought, fire, and pests)

Main beneficiaries

  • Citizens or community groups
  • Marginalized groups: Low income citizens, Other
  • Food producers and cultivators (i.e. farmers, gardeners)


Management set-up

  • Co-governance with government and non-government actors

Type of initiating organisation

  • Local government/municipality
  • Non-government organisation/civil society
  • Citizens or community group

Participatory approaches/ community involvement

  • Co-planning
  • Consultation (e.g. workshop, surveys)
  • Joint implementation (e.g. tree planting)
  • Co-management/Joint management

Details on the roles of the organisations involved in the project

It seems that throughout the years, the project has been supported financially and from a know how perspective by different NGO, some international such as NGO Solidarités, or local such as the National Youth Service (NYS), a government agency that promotes youth affairs through the ministry of devolution and planning. (1,4) District officers and area chiefs were involved in negotiations to obtain land for the nursery beds, in charge of securing access to water through the Nairobi City Council and Nairobi Water Company and of ensuring security of the staff and of seed nursery beds. (5)

Project implemented in response to ...

... an EU policy or strategy? No
... a national policy or strategy? Yes (The project is not addressing speciffically a national plan, however it is part of the activities of the National Youth Service in regards to food security. The National Youth Service (NYS) is an organisation under the Government of Kenya. (1))
... a local policy or strategy? Unknown


Total cost


Source(s) of funding

  • Funds provided by non-governmental organization (NGO)
  • Other

Type of funding

  • Unknown

Non-financial contribution

Type of non-financial contribution
  • Provision of land
  • Provision of goods
  • Provision of labour
  • Provision of expertise
  • Exchange of services
Who provided the non-financial contribution?
  • Public authorities (e.g. land, utility services)
  • Citizens (e.g. volunteering)

Impacts and Monitoring

Environmental impacts

  • Climate, energy and emissions
  • Lowered local temperature
  • Green space and habitat
  • Increased green space area
  • Increased number of species present
  • Enhanced support of pollination
  • Increased spread of native/heirloom/open-pollinated seed

Economic impacts

  • Stimulate development in deprived areas
  • Generation of income from NBS

Socio-cultural impacts

  • Social justice and cohesion
  • Fair distribution of social, environmental and economic benefits of the NBS project
  • Increased access to healthy/affordable food
  • Increased sustainability of agriculture practices

Type of reported impacts

Expected impacts, Achieved impacts

Presence of formal monitoring system


Presence of indicators used in reporting

No evidence in public records

Presence of monitoring/ evaluation reports

No evidence in public records

Availability of a web-based monitoring tool



Before intervention photo
Sack gardening 1
Information about this nature-based solution was collected as part of the UNA global extension project funded by the British Academy.