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Development of Resilient Urban Food Systems—Exploring Synergies and Making Priorities

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Food".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2022) | Viewed by 27631

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Wageningen Economic Research, Wageningen University and Research (WUR), Hollandseweg 1, 6706kN Wageningen, The Netherlands
Interests: informational governance; digitization; aquaculture; governance; multicriteria impact assessments; marine spatial planning; blue economy

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Guest Editor
Wageningen Environmental Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Interests: food system approach; city region food system; strategic spatial planning; systems thinking; sustainable development and nature based solutions

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Guest Editor
Wageningen Economic Research, part of Wageningen UR, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Interests: agricultural policy; trade; development economics; food security; food systems transformation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Ongoing rise of urbanization will remain a major trend in the near future, as the proportion of people living in cities is expected to increase from 54% in 2018 to 68% by 2050 on a global scale. Increasingly, people move into cities in the hope of employment and a better future. At the same time, major drivers such as climate change, ecological degradation, urbanisation pressure and future shocks such as the current COVID-19 pandemic place pressure on existing food systems to change. New urban food systems are expected to gradually replace the existing structures and create new synergies such as the interplay between social and ecological advantages. The development of resilient urban food systems requires processes of exploring synergies and making priorities. On the one hand, the flows between rural and urban areas, with people, ideas, goods, money, services, technologies and waste flows, may change the dynamics for increased resiliency. For instance, factors that can strengthen rural–urban interrelationships and the resiliency of food systems may include urban immigrants increasing remittances, ideas and knowledge back to family members in rural households. On the other hand, new innovations may require stakeholders in food supply chains to adopt their practices or go out of business. Strategies towards resilient urban food systems can be categorised across three types of interventions: market, technology and governance.

Applying an urban food systems approach, this Special Issue offers a holistic perspective on food and nutrition security by broadening the focus to food security, social and environmental outcomes and the socio-economic and environmental drivers of these food system activities. Importantly, an urban food system approach is showing how food systems interact with other (ecological, economic or political) systems, providing excellent opportunities for analysing how each element within a system interacts with the others in producing food system outcomes. The connectiveness of food system elements is depicted in a conceptual food system model (van Berkum et al. 2018). A food system approach covers knowledge about value-chain dynamics, factors influencing population movement, governance and market related activities, and environmental and climate conditions, which can all contribute to increased understanding about how to shape future food systems.

This Special Issue investigates the following core questions:

  • How can changing rural–urban interactions affect people’s livelihoods in both urban and rural settlements, in terms of economic, social and ecological consequences? How can local institutions and governments apply urban–rural linkages to boost innovations?
  • What market innovations can enhance urban resiliency? What are possible synergies, and which priorities must be set to achieve resiliency of the food systems?
  • What technological interventions can create resilient urban food systems? What synergies are found and priorities made with other elements of food systems?
  • How can governance and new ways of social organisation (e.g., local networks or new linkages between communities) enhance urban resilience?

Dr. Katrine Soma
Mr. Bertram de Rooij
Dr. S. van Berkum
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • urban food systems
  • rural–urban migration
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • zero hunger
  • sustainable cities and communities

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

23 pages, 4791 KiB  
Article
Can Domestic Food Production Provide Future Urban Populations with Food and Nutrition Security?—Insights from Bangladesh, Kenya and Uganda
by Katrine Soma, Wil Hennen and Siemen van Berkum
Sustainability 2023, 15(11), 9005; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15119005 - 2 Jun 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1823
Abstract
Population growth and urbanization increasingly put pressure on our planet’s availability of areas needed for food production. The dependencies on domestically produced food are increasingly judged favourable, following the consequences of the Ukrainian war, with escalating fuel and grain prices and less accessibilities [...] Read more.
Population growth and urbanization increasingly put pressure on our planet’s availability of areas needed for food production. The dependencies on domestically produced food are increasingly judged favourable, following the consequences of the Ukrainian war, with escalating fuel and grain prices and less accessibilities to low-income groups. It is, however, unclear whether land is domestically available. Applying a food system approach, the main aim of this article is to investigate spatial foodsheds and theoretical self-sufficiency for food production needed to supply increasing future populations in a selection of cities, including estimates for Dhaka in Bangladesh, Nairobi in Kenya and Kampala in Uganda. The projected foodshed scenario areas for the years 2020 and 2050 are estimated for the production of three core products currently extensively produced and consumed in the three countries. They show that it is not possible to feed an ever-increasing urban population based on domestic production alone. International trade, new technological developments and new consumer demands for less area-intensive food production systems may give solutions to the immense challenge of feeding the world’s population with nutritious food in 2050. However, to ensure fair and inclusive transition pathways for low-income groups: (1) affordability and accessibility of trade opportunities, technologies and products, (2) a common vision aiming for the SDGs, including SDG2: Zero hunger and SDG11: Sustainable Cities and Communities as well as (3) best practices in co-creation and cooperation with the most vulnerable urban and rural populations, are highly needed. Full article
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15 pages, 275 KiB  
Article
Operationalizing Food System Governance: The Case of Fort Portal Food Change Lab
by Kat Pittore and Pascal Debons
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3527; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043527 - 14 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1710
Abstract
Transforming the current food system into one which delivers healthy, sustainable diets will require some form of governance. Due to the complex nature of the food system, multi-stakeholder platforms (MSPs), which bring together actors from multiple sectors into a shared space for joint [...] Read more.
Transforming the current food system into one which delivers healthy, sustainable diets will require some form of governance. Due to the complex nature of the food system, multi-stakeholder platforms (MSPs), which bring together actors from multiple sectors into a shared space for joint decision making, have been proposed as one potential governance structure. Using the Food Change Lab, a multi-stakeholder platform led by a local civil society organization in Fort Portal, Uganda, as a case study, this paper uses an explicit conceptual framework for food system governance to understand how such an MSP can support improved food system outcomes. Local-level, civil-society-led MSPs have a limited ability to support a system-based problem framing, due to a tension between a holistic view of the system and identifying concrete entry points for action. They can support boundary spanning by creating horizontal linkages but are less effective in creating vertical linkages due to their locally embedded nature. Because such MSPs are not dependent on formal policy processes, they can be very adaptable and flexible in prioritizing issues and focus areas. The greatest influence of such MSPs in food governance is in supporting inclusiveness, especially of marginalized voices. While such MSPs are unlikely to be able to achieve food system transformation alone, they do play a key role in engaging with marginalized groups, supporting inclusion of local issues and promoting alternative food system visions. Full article
13 pages, 6383 KiB  
Article
The Role of Spatialisation and Spatial Planning in Improving Food Systems: Insights from the Fast-Growing City of Dhaka, Bangladesh
by Charlotte Van Haren, Inder Kumar, Anouk Cormont, Catharien Terwisscha van Scheltinga, Bertram De Rooij, Syed Islam and Peter Verweij
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3423; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043423 - 13 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1865
Abstract
Cities are growing rapidly. It takes a chain of activities to get food from farms to cities. This food system is largely driven by autonomous market development, seizing opportunities favourable to a stakeholder but unfavourable to society at large. Spatial planning is crucial [...] Read more.
Cities are growing rapidly. It takes a chain of activities to get food from farms to cities. This food system is largely driven by autonomous market development, seizing opportunities favourable to a stakeholder but unfavourable to society at large. Spatial planning is crucial along the chain of food system activities to improve food system outcomes, resilience, and limit negative trade-offs. To include the food system in spatial planning, it must first be mapped (i.e., spatialisation) to understand the functions. These maps inform the spatial planning process, which in turn influences spatial configuration of activities. This paper explores the role of spatialisation and spatial planning in the food system of the fast-growing Dhaka Metropolitan Area (DMA) using three different approaches: urban footprint, mapping, and semi-structured interviews. Stakeholders are unaware of spatial aspects that are present in DMA’s food system and therefore do not consider it while developing spatial plans. The analysis in this article, based on the Urban Food Footprint analysis, food system spatialisation, and interviews shows that spatial planning informed by descriptive spatial information can play an important role in guiding the transformation to a more robust, resilient, and inclusive food system. Full article
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21 pages, 3463 KiB  
Article
Approaching Urban Food Waste in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Framework and Evidence from Case Studies in Kibera (Nairobi) and Dhaka
by Michele Pedrotti, Daniele Fattibene, Marta Antonelli and Bob Castelein
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3293; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043293 - 10 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2504
Abstract
Increased urbanization rates pose crucial challenges in terms of food systems’ sustainability, including urban food waste (FW). The global narrative around FW has focused mainly on Western countries, but recent evidence shows that FW is also a major issue in the developing world. [...] Read more.
Increased urbanization rates pose crucial challenges in terms of food systems’ sustainability, including urban food waste (FW). The global narrative around FW has focused mainly on Western countries, but recent evidence shows that FW is also a major issue in the developing world. The objective of this article is to define the characteristics and drivers of urban FW in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). We firstly present a tailor-made three-step approach to identify urban FW hotspots in LMIC, understand the main drivers and design and implement prevention and reduction interventions considering LMIC food system characteristics. We then draw on results from four different urban FW case studies based in Nairobi (Kenya) and Dhaka (Bangladesh) and discuss their characteristics in light of the proposed approach. The case of Nairobi focuses on quantifying and understanding possible drivers of household FW in Kibera and characterizing FW disposal through a household survey (N = 774). The other three studies examine FW at retail, food service and institutional levels for onions, mangoes and beef in Dhaka. The results confirm that FW happens at the urban supply chain level, particularly among mobile vendors but also among households living below the poverty line. The article thus urges LMIC municipalities to consider urban FW strategies as a key action to tackle food security, environmental issues and FW management challenges. Full article
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15 pages, 499 KiB  
Article
How Urban Growth in the Global South Affects Agricultural Dynamics and Food Systems Outcomes in Rural Areas: A Review and Research Agenda
by Siemen van Berkum
Sustainability 2023, 15(3), 2591; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15032591 - 1 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2760
Abstract
The urbanisation in the Global South provides opportunities for improved rural livelihoods in the vicinity of cities, but these opportunities do not automatically occur. The literature shows that urban expansion leads to more intensive land use around cities and a shift of production [...] Read more.
The urbanisation in the Global South provides opportunities for improved rural livelihoods in the vicinity of cities, but these opportunities do not automatically occur. The literature shows that urban expansion leads to more intensive land use around cities and a shift of production towards high-value products. However, competition for land around growing cities can lead to increasing socioeconomic vulnerability in affected areas, particularly for those who have no or weak land ownership or tenancy rights. Urban expansion can also have negative ecological consequences such as the extinction of wetlands and deforestation. In the current literature, there are very few studies to be found that comprehensively and simultaneously analyse the effects of growing cities on food security, equity, and the ecological impacts on food systems in rural areas. To better map and understand the consequences of urban growth for agricultural dynamics, rural livelihoods, and the environment, a three-track research agenda is proposed: comparative field studies that analyse farmers’ decision-making processes under increased competition for factors of production due to urban sprawl; the role of urban–rural connectivity, city size, and urbanisation patterns in agricultural dynamics around the city; and studies that analyse the socioeconomic and environmental effects of urban sprawl on agricultural development opportunities around cities. Full article
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19 pages, 1805 KiB  
Article
Are Food Hubs Sustainable? An Analysis of Social and Environmental Objectives of U.S. Food Hubs
by Haniyeh Shariatmadary, Sabine O’Hara, Rebecca Graham and Marian Stuiver
Sustainability 2023, 15(3), 2308; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15032308 - 27 Jan 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2769
Abstract
The United States food system is highly centralized with only three of the fifty states producing more than 75 percent of U.S. fruits and vegetables. The high reliance on long-distance transportation and cold chains undermines the sustainability of the food system and adds [...] Read more.
The United States food system is highly centralized with only three of the fifty states producing more than 75 percent of U.S. fruits and vegetables. The high reliance on long-distance transportation and cold chains undermines the sustainability of the food system and adds to its vulnerability. This was most recently demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic which caused significant disruptions to food supply chains. A promising alternative is a more decentralized and localized food system which reduces the reliance on long-distance transportation and long supply chains. Since such a food system will likely consist of smaller producers, questions have been raised about its economic viability. This precipitated the idea of Food Hubs as market aggregators. The model was first introduced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a way to aggregate the agricultural product of small farms. It has since evolved to imply a more flexible food system that can complement various parts of the food supply chain. This study develops a framework to assess the social and environmental sustainability contributions of Food Hubs and especially of urban Food Hubs, since 80 percent of U.S. food consumers live in urban and metro areas. Using our framework, we conducted a content analysis of publicly available information for 50 Food Hubs in metropolitan areas across the United States. We find that Food Hubs contribute to environmental sustainability by reducing food transportation through sourcing from local farms. They also perform relatively well in contributing to lowering food waste and loss. Their contributions to improving water management and adopting more sustainable food production methods, however, appear to be less strong. Similarly, Food Hubs appear to enhance some of our selected aspects of social sustainability such as improving access to fresh and healthy food to local consumers, and organizations such as schools and hospitals. Only a few of the Food Hubs in our sample, however, address our other aspects of social sustainability such as improving food security. We conclude our study by offering an aggregate ranking of the sustainability contributions of our selected Food Hubs based on our assessment framework. Full article
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22 pages, 687 KiB  
Article
The Role of Urban–Rural Connections in Building Food System Resilience
by Ezra Berkhout, Lucie Sovová and Anne Sonneveld
Sustainability 2023, 15(3), 1818; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15031818 - 18 Jan 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2616
Abstract
This paper investigates food system resilience—conceptualized through the four dimensions of agency, buffering, connectivity, and diversification—from the perspective of rural–urban relations. We consider three cases that capture distinct actor and policy foci in the wider literature on urban–rural interactions. These are secondary cities [...] Read more.
This paper investigates food system resilience—conceptualized through the four dimensions of agency, buffering, connectivity, and diversification—from the perspective of rural–urban relations. We consider three cases that capture distinct actor and policy foci in the wider literature on urban–rural interactions. These are secondary cities and their development potential as central nodes in urban–rural food systems, the role of digital infrastructure in shaping food systems resilience, and finally, street food vendors as a particularly vulnerable yet crucial group of actors linking rural food supply with urban demand. We review existing literature within these themes, with a particular focus on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the food systems in middle- and low-income countries. This allows us to examine the relationship between rural–urban connectivity and food system resilience and to identify possible trade-offs. We formulate recommendations for research and policy around the notions of new localities (i.e., considering the interconnectedness of rural and urban food systems across administrative boundaries), smart development (i.e., context-specific approaches building on local strengths), and network governance (i.e., inclusive decision making engaging with diverse stakeholders across multiple scales). Full article
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16 pages, 997 KiB  
Article
Sustainable Development Ensued by Social Capital Impacts on Food Insecurity: The Case of Kibera, Nairobi
by Emma E. W. Termeer, Katrine Soma, Nina Motovska, Oscar Ingasia Ayuya, Marvin Kunz and Tinka Koster
Sustainability 2022, 14(9), 5504; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14095504 - 4 May 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2280
Abstract
The aim of this study is to disclose the social factors of sustainable development goals by exploring the links between three types of social capital (bonding, bridging and linking) and food security in Kibera, an informal settlement located in Nairobi, Kenya. Several studies [...] Read more.
The aim of this study is to disclose the social factors of sustainable development goals by exploring the links between three types of social capital (bonding, bridging and linking) and food security in Kibera, an informal settlement located in Nairobi, Kenya. Several studies in the literature have addressed links between food security and social capital. However, a lack of theoretical approaches exist in the literature, which concern the sustainable development theory devoted to urban areas taking into account the sustainable development goals. This study applies a linear regression model on data from 385 households in Kibera to analyze the connection between food security and three types of social capital (bonding, bridging and linking). The results demonstrate that there is a positive impact between our proxies for bonding social capital (cultural diversity and the number of visits to area of origin) and food security. Bridging social capital (measured by trust in strangers) demonstrated a negative impact on food security. Finally, one indicator for linking social capital demonstrated a positive impact on food security (trust in community leaders), whereas the statistical analyses did not find any relationship of the two indicators; ‘trust in local politicians’ and ‘membership of social organisations’, with food security. The results demonstrate that insight into social capital can inform the understanding of household food insecurity in vulnerable urban settlements, by illustrating the critical impacts of social drivers in a food system. Full article
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18 pages, 748 KiB  
Article
From Schnitzel to Sustainability: Shifting Values at Vienna’s Urban Farmers Markets
by Milena Klimek, Jim Bingen, Bernhard Freyer and Rebecca Paxton
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8327; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158327 - 26 Jul 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2022
Abstract
This paper presents an empirically grounded investigation of the values and practices of farmers markets (FM) in Vienna, Austria and their linkages to wider alternative food practices of ecological, social and economic sustainability. If the FMs are to play a vibrant role in [...] Read more.
This paper presents an empirically grounded investigation of the values and practices of farmers markets (FM) in Vienna, Austria and their linkages to wider alternative food practices of ecological, social and economic sustainability. If the FMs are to play a vibrant role in the Viennese alternative food system, enhancing urban–rural connections and urban resilience, they must re–align their values to this system. A values-based conceptual framework is used to examine the structures and functions of six Viennese FMs and the alignment of values and practices among FM managers, farmers/vendors and consumers. Data from qualitative interviews, participant observation and dot surveys were collected at each FM. Value alignment is discovered as necessary to support and perpetuate alternative values. Governance is found to be significant for aligning values related to FM sustainability. Current structures and functions of Viennese FMs cannot be easily aligned with participant values and practices. As one of the first examinations of Viennese FMs, this work illustrates concrete challenges, priorities and emphasizes the role that governance and social organizing plays in successful markets as contributors towards sustainable urban food systems. Lessons learned can be applied to municipal FMs and other food system actors that face similar challenges. Full article
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14 pages, 1200 KiB  
Article
A New Rural-Urban Fish Food System Was Established in Kenya–Learning from Best Practices
by Katrine Soma, Benson Obwanga and Charles Mbauni Kanyuguto
Sustainability 2021, 13(13), 7254; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13137254 - 29 Jun 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2568
Abstract
Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi, Kenya, is increasing in size and complexity due to migration from rural areas. Reaching the objectives of zero hunger and sustainable cities and communities (SDGs2 and 11) are urgent and complex challenges to future development. In this [...] Read more.
Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi, Kenya, is increasing in size and complexity due to migration from rural areas. Reaching the objectives of zero hunger and sustainable cities and communities (SDGs2 and 11) are urgent and complex challenges to future development. In this survey a new fish value-chain has been set up between a rural area called Nyeri district and the inhabitants of Kibera, to supply small-sized affordable and accessible fish. The main aim of this article is to investigate this best practice example to assist future initiatives to overcome the complex challenges and discuss reasons why it was successful. The methods applied to obtain information to conduct this survey include a literature review, two workshops, and five preparatory interviews of Kibera inhabitants. The contributions by two community leaders, one in Kibera and one in Nyeri, are central to understand why this project was successful. The community leaders were trusted in their local networks. To ensure a resilient rural-urban food system in the future, it is critically important to understand context-specific institutional mechanisms, which in Kenya are based in communities run by strong community leads with capacities to motivate and influence other actors in the network to improve and make changes. Full article
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15 pages, 2353 KiB  
Article
Socio-Economic Drivers of Fish Species Consumption Preferences in Kenya’s Urban Informal Food System
by Oscar Ingasia Ayuya, Katrine Soma and Benson Obwanga
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5278; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095278 - 8 May 2021
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 2824
Abstract
In an effort to contribute to resilient food and nutritional security in urban slums, a food system approach was applied to understand the key socio-economic factors driving fish species consumption in Kibera, the largest informal settlement in Africa located in Nairobi, Kenya. Data [...] Read more.
In an effort to contribute to resilient food and nutritional security in urban slums, a food system approach was applied to understand the key socio-economic factors driving fish species consumption in Kibera, the largest informal settlement in Africa located in Nairobi, Kenya. Data were collected from 385 randomly selected households using a structured questionnaire. A multivariate probit model was applied to estimate the relationship between the variables in order to determine the socio-economic drivers of preferences for different fish species. The results indicated that Lake Victoria sardine (Rastrineobola argentea) had the highest preference (73%) among the respondents, followed by Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) (70%) and Nile perch (Lates niloticus) (23%), respectively, with other fish species at 12%, including African catfish, marbled lungfish, common carp, fulu and tuna (Clarias gariepinus, Protopterus aethiopicus, Cyprinus carpio, Haplochromine cichlids and Thunnus sp., respectively). Large household size showed an increase in preference for the Lake Victoria sardine, while higher income influenced preference for Nile tilapia and Nile perch positively, implying that when more income is available, Nile tilapia is the preferred fish over other fish species. Increased fish prices positively influenced preference for Nile tilapia, which is explained by the willingness to pay extra for quality and origin, for instance, to avoid the cheaply cultivated Chinese fish. In the case of the Lake Victoria sardine, lower prices positively affected the preferences. Religious and cultural practices and beliefs influenced preference for species and consumption of fish. Residents who migrated from western Kenya had a higher preference for the Lake Victoria sardine, while residents born and raised in Kibera had a higher preference for Nile tilapia. Neighbourhood effects reduced the preference for consuming Nile perch. These findings provide insights into future market opportunities for specific target groups. For instance, given that small-sized fish like the Lake Victoria sardine is highly demanded, in order to increase resiliency in food and nutrition security, small-sized cheap Nile tilapia will have a large potential in the future, with ever higher demand specifically from the residents born and raised in Kibera. Full article
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