Nairobi Establishes a Framework from Which Urban Agriculture Can Flourish

by Cameron St. Germain

Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series

Policy Name:

Urban Agriculture Promotion and Regulation Act, Nairobi


Nairobi County, Kenya

Population: 3.5 million (World Population Review, 2017)


The Urban Agriculture Promotion and Regulation Act establishes a regulatory framework under which urban agriculture in Nairobi may be practiced and creates the Nairobi City County Urban Agriculture Promotion Advisory Board to oversee compliance with the law. Although the Act does not outline specific measures to be taken in order to promote urban agriculture, it is a preliminary step that calls for the Executive Committee Member of the Advisory Board to prepare a strategic plan for future agricultural programs. It also ensures that the issue of urban agriculture is included in the county’s deliberations regarding urban planning, food policy, and market infrastructure.

Progress to date:

According to the Kenyan news outlet Mediamax, the government is developing urban farming projects in all 17 of Nairobi’s sub-counties. It is expected to cost 10.3 million Kenyan shillings (around $100,000 USD) plus an additional 13.4 million ($130,000) for water-harvesting facilities.

Program/Policy Initiated:

August 27, 2015

Food policy category:

Urban agriculture

Program goals:

The objectives of the Act are to:

  • Contribute to food security through the development of agriculture in the county by empowering the people and institutions through allowing and facilitating agricultural activities for subsistence and commercial purposes.
  • Promote increased access to agricultural extension services and promote the development of people’s capacity in food production, value addition, value chain development and employment creation.
  • Promote, support, and guide the development of urban agriculture.
  • Regulate access to land and water for use in urban agriculture.
  • Protect food safety, public health, and the environment by defining environmental standards for urban agriculture.
  • Institutionalise administrative procedures for access to agricultural resources including organic waste.
  • Provide for procedures to monitor positive and negative effects of urban agriculture.
  • Establish procedures to oversee law enforcement on issues regarding urban agriculture.
  • Facilitate job creation in the county by encouraging agriculture as an alternative source of income.

How it works:

The Act establishes the Nairobi City County Urban Agriculture Promotion Advisory Board, which consists of a chairperson, secretary, and four other members. This board will work with an Executive Committee Member from the Nairobi City County Assembly and is responsible for developing programs to promote and regulate the development of Nairobi’s urban agriculture sector.

According to the Act, “urban agriculture” involves cultivating crops, breeding and keeping livestock as well as aquatic animals and plants, and using land for gardens, nurseries, or agro-forestry.

The government has pledged to undertake various programs to promote urban agriculture, including:

  • Training and capacity building of farmers in sustainable crop cultivation and raising livestock.
  • Ensuring collaboration between relevant stakeholders in managing organic waste.
  • Promoting the production of aquaculture while ensuring its quality.
  • Monitoring and regulating urban agriculture in accordance with the relevant legislation.
  • Ensuring hygiene and sanitation in the handling and treatment of agricultural products.
  • Ensuring adequate funding for urban agriculture programs.
  • Collecting and maintaining data on urban agriculture activity and programs.
  • Developing urban agriculture infrastructure.
  • Promote animal welfare standards.
  • Promote product identification and traceability systems.

Why it is important:

Food insecurity is a significant problem throughout Kenya. According to a report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and the University of Nairobi African Women’s Studies Centre, 14.5% of Nairobians suffer from low food security, and 11.7% are chronically food insecure. Furthermore, a study from the African Population Health Research Center shows that in Nairobi’s poorest neighborhoods, only one in five households is food secure. Urban agriculture has the potential to provide healthy food to the city’s most vulnerable communities.

Additionally, the Urban Agriculture Promotion and Regulation Act is intended to provide employment, particularly for Nairobi’s youth. A report from the Brookings Institute shows particularly high levels of unemployment among Kenya’s youth and urban dwellers, with an unemployment rate of 191% among urban 20-24 year olds compared to the overall national unemployment rate of 8.6%.


The Act states that the County Executive Member is responsible for ensuring that the stated objectives are met.

Learn more:

Point of Contact:

Nairobi City County Assembly

Similar practices:

In 2013, Detroit, Michigan drafted the Urban Agriculture Ordinance to promote and regulate urban agriculture. Similar ordinances have been passed in San Francisco, Boston, and Baltimore.


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