A new Toybox funded project in Kenya is helping children and young people on the streets of Nairobi grow healthy and nutritious food.The urban farm project launched in July 2022 and is currently operating across three sites in Nairobi, benefitting 90 children, young people and their families.
The project is focused on improving household food security as well as creating livelihood opportunities for children and young people on the streets, through selling the excess produce. The children and young people have been actively involved in many aspects of the development of the farms, including the set up of the sites as well as planting, watering and harvesting the crops. They have also been taught key skills, including tool safety to support them in the use of gardening tools and equipment.
It is clear that the project is already having a positive impact on the children and young people involved. Project staff noted that the sites have become a safe space for children, away from the dangers of the street, where they can come to relax and take care of the plants. Over time, project staff have also seen an improvement in the levels of team work among the project paticipants. In addition, children have also reported using fewer drugs as well as feeling happier and enjoying working as part of a team.
Along the way, the project has faced challenges in the growing of crops. Erratic rains earlier this year meant that the sites did not yield harvests in February or March. In addition, the water rationing restrictions which were in place across the whole of Nairobi impacted the project as there were no water storage tanks at the farm at this time.
Despite the challenges, over the past few months, the project has reported the development of some positive partnerships in the community. The Catholic church has supported the project by installing piped water in the farm and fencing in one of the urban farm sites. This has made the site more secure and ensured that it is easier to water the crops.
Project staff have also seen a positive shift in attitudes towards street children and young people, as members of the wider community have started to see them as productive members of society, engaging in meaningful income-generating activities.
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