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Nourishing livelihoods: recognising and supporting food vendors in Nairobi’s informal settlements

Vendors in African informal settlements play vital but overlooked roles in alleviating food insecurity. Many vendors are women selling affordable food to their fellow residents.

Using participatory research, we offer a gender-sensitive analysis of how food vending intersects with environmental hazards, insecurity, and governmental neglect in Nairobi’s informal settlements. We argue that improving food security must form part of a wider set of upgrading initiatives to promote jobs, community safety, and political empowerment. Food vendors in informal settlements are a key entry-point for such interventions. By nourishing and recognising these livelihoods, vendors can lead the way towards equitable food systems.

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Low and irregular incomes are the root cause of urban food insecurity, but inadequate housing and basic infrastructure and limited access to services contribute to levels of malnutrition and food insecurity that are often as high if not higher than in rural areas.

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Urban food security and consumption

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