Mapping for food safety 2/4: Focus on food

(2 of 4) Cross Posted from IIED blog by Paolo Cravero

Street vendor in Mathare. Photo: Paolo Cravero, IIED.

Street vendor in Mathare. Photo: Paolo Cravero, IIED.

Like other SDI affiliates, Muungano has long used mapping and enumerations to gather knowledge local governments lack. It has used such knowledge to encourage local authorities to join forces with communities and develop solutions to problems the urban poor face. In 2012, Muungano members started thinking of ways to improve residents’ access to safe food and at the same time support food vendors, most of whom live in the settlements they serve.

Food vendors are vital to Nairobi’s informal settlements, feeding thousands of people every day. Selling food is often the only way the vendors, who are mostly women, can make money. But they are often marginalised, stigmatised and even criminalised as a public health nuisance. To many policymakers they are simply invisible.

“We saw where the vendors are, where the drainage and hazards are… through the balloon mapping we saw recent photos of the area, which are not up to date in Google maps” – Julia Washera, a food vendor and Muungano member from Mathare

Muungano realised that data and mapping could challenge negative perceptions and highlight the crucial role food vending plays in generating income and providing the urban poor with affordable meals. Muungano worked with stakeholders from across the community, using a mix of mapping tools and deliberative meetings to explore problems and potential solutions. The project was community-led. Food vendors, livestock keepers, consumers of street food and others all took part and decided together how the project would unfold and how to use its findings.

Street food vendors from Mathare, one of Nairobi's biggest informal settlements, are engaged in a mapping project. They share their views on the process and its outcomes.