Good Food for Cities

Constructing Kampala’s pathway to becoming a Food Smart City

April 18, 2023

The buzzing city of Kampala - with its 1.6 million people - is the biggest city in Uganda, located close to Lake Victoria. With a population growth rate of around 5% every year, it is among Africa’s fastest growing urban areas. Rikolto’s ambition is to turn Kampala’s foodsystem into a sustainable and inclusive food system to provide healthy, sustainable and nutritious food for its citizens.

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East Africa, Kampala, near Lake Victoria

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Turning Kampala's food system into a sustainable an inclusive food system that is able to provide healthy, sustainable and nutritious food for all its citizens.

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From 2020 until 2021


Market infrastructure in Kampala. Picture by Yasin Nsubuga (ILO) - @flickr ILO PHOTOS NEWS

Building a sustainable and inclusive food system is however not a simple task, especially not when you take the many challenges Kampala faces into account. Due to rapid urbanisation, at least 50% of the country’s population will be living in urban areas. Most people live in informal settlements with inadequate housing, poor health care services, lack of accessto education, to safe drinking water, and lack of infrastructure. There is also the poor market infrastructure and practices which means that there is absence of cold storage facilities, hygiene challenges and traders spraying pesticides on vegetables and fruits in their stalls to prolong shelf life among others. The limited consumer awareness on safety of fruits and vegetables, which the consumer judges based on its looks. The absence of local standards of policies to regulate food safety risks also adds to the challenges of the sector in Kampala. Many fruits and vegetables meant for export never reach their destination due to rejections because the products don’t live up to the standards of the market.

Market infrastructure in Kampala. Picture by Mark Sowers - flickr @mark.sowers

One common goal: Changing the system

Rikolto believes that cities can play an important role in sparking a shift towards a fundamentally different food system by creating a platform for all food actors to develop common strategies and actions, but also to transform urban food environments for improved consumption of healthy, sustainable and nutritious food by all urban citizens, regardless of their level of income.  

It is against this background, that a Food Smart City (FSC) programme is set up in collaboration with city authorities to make healthy, sustainable and safe fresh fruits and vegetables accessible to all.  

Bringo Fresh provides safe & healthy fresh produce to Kampala's population. Pictures credit by Bringo Fresh

We cannot do it alone: Involving everyone to reach this ambitious goal

The overall goal of the Food Smart Cities programme is to support city-regions in implementing both policies and practices that contribute to sustainable, fair and healthy food systems. To do so, Rikolto and its partners will be working on the following objectives:  

  1. Include smallholder farmers, women and youth in sustainable urban food chains based on fair principles 
  2.  Increase the affordability, availability and acceptability of healthy, sustainable and nutritious food to city dwellers
  3. Reduce the environmental impact and increase the resilience of urban food systems  
  4. Set up participatory governance mechanisms for urban food systems

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What we've achieved so far....


The main achievement happened under the framework of an urban farming project funded by UN Environment Programme and implemented together with Kampala Capital City Authority).

  • 50 urban farms with innovative technologies set up in 5 divisions of Kampala. These farms are open for visits and aim at bringing urban farming technologies closer to the communities in Kampala.
  • As a result of setting up new urban farms and increased community awareness, the demand for inputs (seedlings etc) for urban farming from the big Kyanja Agricultural Resource Center in Kampala has tripled according to Dr. Kamugisha, representative in charge of the charge of the resource center.
  • Overwhelming interest from local council authorities and city division planners to include urban farming in the budgets for the next financial year.

The change we expect to see

1. A thriving multi-stakeholder food governance platform in place to organise collective action towards a sustainable food system in Kampala

  • A shared vision to improve the food safety of urban food chains
  • Jointly identify bottlenecks and risks and develop shared solutions while being part of the implementation and monitoring efforts
  • Design and facilitate action plans to create regulations or incentives fit to speed up the enabling environment based on a comprehensive analysis of the current policy framework, business models related to food systems in the city  

2. A supply chain of fruits and vegetables in Kampala that is centred around ‘inclusive business

  • Business models integrate more vulnerable chain actors - smallholder farmers, low-income consumers, youth, and women - into markets
  • Infrastructure improvement of market stalls, establishment of direct commercial relationships between suppliers and market vendors, awareness creation on food safety and general improvement of the market regulatory policy to support the horticulture industry

3. Better access to safe and quality fruits and vegetables consumed in Kampala city 

Urban farming systems have been promoted through a multi-stakeholder driven risk analysis approach: 

  • Assessing the risks along the main fruit and vegetable supply chains
  • Communicating the risk to various stakeholders
  • Controlling the risks

One of the urban demonstration farms in Kyanja managed by our partner Kampala Capital City Authority

4. Improved food safety promotion and awareness

  • Stakeholders and all operators in the entire fruits and vegetables chain receive valuable food safety information and sensitization
  • Food safety standards have been developed, consumers have been educated about quality and safe food, basic food hygiene practices and how to reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses
  • Food safety awareness will have been raised within communities and the general public focused on the importance of food safety and how to ensure food safety, plant and animal health, appropriate postharvest practices and implementation of quality standards for food products and consumer goods

5. City learnings

Kampala’s Food Smart City programme promotes the exchange of lessons and good practices regarding food governance, innovative business models and technology with other cities in East Africa.

Who do we work with?



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