Nairobi Food System Strategy: Collaborative learning and reflections on developing a monitoring plan
Authors: Joy Carey, RUAF; and Sam Ikua, Mazingira Institute
In November 2023, Nairobi City County (NCC) embarked on a transformative journey, collaborating with RUAF to co-create a draft monitoring plan to help track the progress of the Nairobi City County’s Food System Strategy. The primary focus was to identify outcome-related indicators crucial for monitoring the delivery of the Nairobi Food System Strategy (NFSS). The three-fold objectives of the workshop included co-create a monitoring plan with clear outcome-related indicators for the Nairobi Food System Strategy, to pre-test two priority indicators and feedback learning into the development of the NFSS monitoring plan and reflect on learnings from this process to share with other cities in the Resilient Cities Initiative.
Over the course of seven days, two priority indicators were pre-tested in the field, with the leadership and participation of NCC food and agriculture extension officers. The approach taken was informed by RUAF’s experience of food system governance and monitoring with emerging new learning and tools to share with other cities.
The workshop kicked off with a two-day residential workshop facilitated by Joy Carey, RUAF global partnership, Sam Ikua from Mazingira Institute and Winfred Katumo, NCC Food Systems Deputy Director. The session was joined by participation of 13 officers and directors from Nairobi City County Food and Agricultural Sector, and Monitoring and Evaluation Sector.
Participants were organized into three small groups. Using pre-prepared worksheets tailored to link to the NFSS document, each group was assigned specific sections of the NFSS document under each of the four overarching objectives. The groups came back together for detailed feedback and discussion, section by section.
The first task was to identify indicators needed to measure progress towards the overarching NFSS objectives, for addition to the NFSS delivery document, targeting increased food production, attainment of staple food supply/incomes, reduction of food losses, and assurance of consumer welfare. The second task was to agree two indicators to pre-test in the field, and to agree the outline of appropriate data collection tools, with the aim of providing feedback for further development of the monitoring plan. At the close of the second day two priority indicators were selected for a pre-test in the field, for which data collection tools had to be developed for data collection the following week.
This workshop was followed by a separate half day briefing and finalization of the indicator pre-test data collection tools, with NCC Extension Trainers/enumerators and officers from NCC Food and Agricultural Sector actively contributing to the refinement process. A 2-day fieldwork of primary data collection followed, using the co-created tools, led by NCC Extension Trainers/enumerators. To facilitate shared learnings, RUAF developed a reflection framework to reflect on learnings from this process to share with other cities in the Resilient Cities initiative.
New monitoring and indicator data collection tool documents including
- A draft monitoring plan with a mix of outcome and output indicators. All the proposed indicators were collated into single documents for each of the overarching NFSS objectives. The indicators will also be added to the original NFSS delivery matrix document. The two sets of documents are designed to use together.
- Two new co-created primary data collection questionnaires, one on the impact of training for urban farmers and one on the impact of training on market-based waste management groups. Both were adapted for focus group discussions.
Lessons learned and tips to share
- Make-up of the group: The composition of the planning group, consisting of F&A sector departmental directors, deputy directors, and key officers, along with the director and senior officer from the NCC Monitoring and Evaluation team, ensured a balance of seniority and practical experience. This mix facilitated detailed discussions on desired outcomes and related indicators.
- Group co-creation: Huge value in going through this co-creation process with groups of key members of NCC staff, to develop rapport, better understanding of each other’s perspectives and expertise, develop a sense of ownership and deepen interest in monitoring. The addition of 2 staff from the separate M&E sector within NCC was a bonus. They had not previously engaged with the work of the Food and Agriculture sector, found it interesting and inspiring and stated a commitment to continued involvement.
- Field data collection by Extension team: This group provide training to people working within the urban food system of Nairobi and were thus best placed to further co-create data collection tools and to carry out the pre-tests. They were motivated and engaged with the task and carried out the field work efficiently.
- A clear process and structure: Having a clear process was essential for ensuring each activity logically linked to the next as the work emerged. The RUAF- designed worksheets mapped to the NFSS delivery plan, were essential for developing the indicators.
- Output vs outcome indicators: It was also essential to work through an indicator development example with the whole group before the separate work groups began. This took quite some time and had not been planned in the schedule, but it had become apparent that there were a lot of issues arising that needed discussion and clarification. For example, confusion arose around the difference between outcome and output indicators. There were some officers who were not familiar with the NFSS documents, so they needed additional information. It was initially difficult to engage in outcome-related indicator discussions because of the way the NFSS document is set out. For the NCC participants, it would have made life a lot easier if the NFSS delivery document had been translated into a log-frame, so as to clearly identify the differences between overall objectives, activities, outputs, outcomes, and subsequently to be clear about output and outcome indicators. This is an issue for NCC to deal with, as they are the owners and authors of the NFSS.
- Input from the official M&E team: This had not been clarified in advance of the workshop. However, their presentation on Day 2 helped to deal with some of the issues arising from work groups concerning clarifying the difference between output and outcome indicators. It would have been good to involve them in planning and running the workshop, but that would have required them to find time for familiarising themselves in advance with the NFSS and with workshop preparation – not possible for the November time frame.
- RUAF’s own reflections: RUAF task was to tailor its existing tools and experiences to meet the needs of Nairobi City County. RUAF acknowledged more time and resources would have been useful to find better ways to show the strengths and weaknesses in the way the NFSS is set out from the very start of the workshop. However, it was also very productive to have these issues become clear and therefore be discussed by the group themselves as work in progress, and to hear them propose that further work is needed. A small working group was agreed to take this forward.
The exploration of innovation capacity emerged unexpectedly during the November work in Nairobi, through the pre-test data collection exercise, in particular concerning youth entrepreneurs who have established a food waste management operation in Korogocho market. RUAF’s reflections on the question of how to support young scientist-entrepreneurs to refine and scale food systems research products for city resilience has led to some early thoughts on the most appropriate financial support and the potential for financial investment models that align with the principle of circular economy.
How can the expanding evidence base best be shared for action through other existing global city networks? Moving forward, RUAF believes that the simplest way to share learning from this work in Nairobi is to start a conversation through blogs posted on the Resilient Cities initiative website and stimulate further dialogue with programme partners.
Joy Carey is Senior Programme Associate of RUAF Global Partnership on sustainable Urban Agriculture and Food systems, and an independent consultant on city region food system strategy development and monitoring, based in Bristol, UK. She has worked with urban, organic, and local food sectors since 1990, is the author of the baseline audit report, ‘Who Feeds Bristol’ (2011) and the MUFPP practical handbook for monitoring city food strategies (2021). She has also developed related monitoring frameworks for FAO & RUAF’s City Region Food System (CRFS) programme and for FAO’s Green City Initiative.
Samuel Ikua Thiong’o is the Project Coordinator at Mazingira Institute, Nairobi. He is the recipient of the BBC Food Chain Global Youth Champion Award 2022, under the BBC Food and Farming Awards, and is passionate about promoting the resilience of urban food systems.