Good meals are better when shared. Identifying and solving the challenges of urban agriculture requires bringing diverse groups of people to sit down at the table together and “meal plan” for the future.
START recently partnered with UNEP, the WMO, and organizations from throughout Africa and South Asia to undertake a nine-city assessment of urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) across Africa and South Asia. The assessment teams examined key environmental and governance dimensions of UPA in order to advance understanding of how increasing urban pressures on land and water resources, and intensifying climate risks, are undermining the resilience of UPA in the face of rapid urban development. The UPA assessments help to advance understanding of how urban planning can better accommodate food production in and around cities.
The assessment teams prioritized engagement with key decision making groups that have a stake in UPA, including the research community, urban planners, city government officials, NGOs and farmers.
The engagement process began through city inception meetings that garnered input from diverse stakeholder groups regarding city-specific decision making priorities and knowledge needs, and continued throughout the assessment with periodic stakeholder forums. Engaging stakeholders repeatedly throughout the assessments will allow these reports to have a positive impact on decision making.
Below is the story of Dr. Ibidun Adelekan from the Ibadan, Nigeria Team. Her personal experience highlights how stakeholder engagement was foundational to the project.
Outreach in Ibadan: Promoting Stakeholder Engagement in Urban Agriculture Assessments
Dr. Ibidun Adelekan (photo left) helped lead the Ibadan, Nigeria Team’s assessment effort. Her team had a strong link into policy that began at the kick-off meeting with a lively exchange of ideas amongst different stakeholder groups including city government officials, the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Environment and Water resources, the Oyo state urban and regional planning board, Oyo state Agricultural Development Programme, local government authorities, research institutions, and farmers representing vegetable, rice, maize, cassava, poultry and small livestock.
The link into city policy was further advanced by including a city government official, Mr. Adedayo Ayorinde from the Ibadan Urban Regional Planning Board, as an author in the assessment. Having a government connection on the team allowed the team to relay recommendations from the assessment to city officials. Mr. Ayorinde’s involvement in the assessment has made him a much more knowledgeable resource person to interface with city officials around agriculture, land-use change, flooding and climate. He is now the project coordinator of the World Bank-funded Ibadan Urban Flood Management Project.
The efforts of the Ibadan Team also helped a young researcher, Ms. Betty Adegebo, who served as a student research assistant for the UPA assessment. Ms. Adegebo was able to parlay her experience in the assessment into a fellowship with the American Association of Geographers under the MyCOE/SERVIR 2013 Initiative in West Africa where she studied the ‘Effect of rainfall variation and extreme rainfall events on cassava production and processing activities in Ibadan, South West Nigeria’. Her work with women processors of cassava identified alternative sources of water for cassava processing so that they don’t have to be situated so close to rivers where they face high risks of floods damaging their business assets and livelihoods. Ms. Adegebo has given city officials better understanding of how to work with women involved in Ibadan’s vibrant urban agriculture sector.