Outcome 1 – Food systems governance through multisectoral platforms

Article 43 of the Constitution of Kenya gives every person the right to the highest attainable standard of health, freedom from hunger, and access to adequate food of acceptable quality. The mission of Kenya’s Nutrition Action Plan (KNAP, 2018-2022) is ‘To reduce all forms of malnutrition in Kenya, using well-coordinated multisectoral and community centered approaches for optimal health for all Kenyans and the country’s economic growth’. The Action Plan is centered on nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions and devoted to the county-level where county specific County Nutrition Action Plans (CNAP) are in place. Busia county has a functional CNAP 2018/19 – 2022/23 aiming to ensure that the entire county population achieves optimal nutrition for a healthier and better quality of life. NICE is looking forward to engage with the renewal of Busia’s CNAP 2018/19 – 2022/23 in NICE project year 2.

Multisectoral, multi-stakeholder food systems platforms that combine a diverse range of expertise from the agricultural, food, education and health sectors, as well as from private sector, civil society and academia, are seen as game changers and key instruments for promoting food systems transformation and innovation across food value chains.

Several platforms dealing with food system issues exist in Busia. Their potential and challenges have been discussed with stakeholders from county government and sub-county offices, youth groups, women groups, private companies and farmers’ hubs leaders in the frame of a food systems capacity building workshops organized by the NICE project on 21 June 2022.

After thorough internal discussions and assessment, the formation of a new food systems sub-committee following the Rwandan model under the umbrella of the multi-sectoral County Agricultural Sector Steering Committee (CASSCOM) has been decided as the way to go in Kenya in order to combine stakeholders from all the existing platforms. Due to national elections in Kenya on 09Aug2022, establishment for the food systems sub-committee has been postponed to project year 2 only.

Outcome 2 – Increased agroecological production

In November 2021, a group of 23 experts was convened in Busia to select the key value chains for the NICE project in a participatory, multi-stakeholder approach. Different value chains were rated as per the general value chain selection criteria of the project with scoring each value chain on a 3-point scale (1-3) and excluding commodities with a low total score from further consideration. Agreement was achieved on further supporting the following 4 value chains through the NICE project:

  • Poultry
  • Fish (Tilapia)
  • Orange-flesh sweet potatoes
  • African leafy vegetables (spider plant, black nightshade)

35 NICE farmers’ hubs owners have so far been identified to implement the farmers’ hubs model in Busia county and have been trained according to Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture’s quality assured training and mentorship curriculum. Training included sessions on business plan development and implementation, financial management, sales and marketing, as well as crop and livestock production, post-harvest management and quality control.

Furthermore, besides already establishing farmers’ hubs, a farmers’ survey to understand the current status and potential for agroecological practices in Busia using an adapted version of FAO’s Self-evaluation and Holistic Assessment of climate Resilience of farmers and Pastoralists tool (SHARP) with 150 farmers was conducted in December 2021 as a pilot before conducting the same survey in all other NICE cities in March 2022.

Outcome 3 – Demand generation

To foster demand and knowledge for nutritious and locally, agroecologically produced food contributing to a balanced diet, 76 Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) teachers have been trained on the importance and practical administration of vitamin A supplementation to children < 5 years of age as well as on the local school meal program guidelines in Q2 2022. Furthermore, NICE also financially supported the Ministry of Health and Education’s Malezi Bora Week also carrying out vitamin A supplementation for children <5 years in Busia in June 2022.

Besides concrete initiatives contributing to improved food literacy, also a formative research to inform a specific social behavior change campaign increasing the demand for nutritious and locally, agroecologically produced food has been conducted in Busia in September/October 2022 with respective campaign expected in Q2 2023.

Outcome 4 – Learning and scale up

So far, knowledge sharing and learning activities in Busia were largely focused on exchanging experiences and forging synergies with the other NICE cities in Kenya, Bangladesh, and Rwanda on the project management level.

On a political level NICE regularly attended meetings of Busia’s County Nutrition Technical Forum as well as national meetings such as a recent session of Kenya’s UN Food Systems Summit dialogue and meetings with the council of governance. Furthermore, NICE fostered contacts with FAO running the Green Cities Action Program in Nairobi and Kisumu.

Baseline Situation

At baseline, a team of experienced enumerators visited 150 households in Busia to collect information on the nutritional status, socio-economic information and consumption behavior of the city population. This survey revealed food insecurity in nearly all (88.7%) of the visited households in Busia, which increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 7.8% of the children under 5 years were too short for their age and therefore stunted, and 12.8% were underweight. Furthermore, 49.4% of women and 17.6% of men were overweight. Around half of the women did not report an adequately diverse diet (47.7% consumed less than 5 food groups in the previous 24 hours). All this indicates the kind of obstacles faced by the urban population of Busia to access a diverse and nutritious diet, with likely negative effects on their longer-term health. On the other hand, many of the urban and peri-urban households owned farmland, overall 66%. This provides an opportunity for NICE activities to assist in an increase and diversification of locally and agroecologically produced nutritious foods and in making them more accessible for the city population, including vulnerable city population groups. Baseline data were collected in April 2021.

The County of Busia partners with the NICE consortium for this project.