Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture

Growing Well in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania): The Potential of Urban Agriculture in Improving the Lives of At-Risk Youth

Caroline Keenan,
School of Environmental Design and Rural Development,
University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada

(We will be adding more of this paper as it becomes available.)

Growing Well in Dar es Salaam: The Potential of Urban Agriculture in Improving the Lives of At-Risk Youth

Abstract / Given the scarcity of public investment in child welfare in African cities today, a conceptual and practical analysis of programs that support the physical well-being of street children and youth who formerly resided in rural areas is urgently needed. This paper discusses efforts towards social inclusion of former street youth in urban agriculture using two programs in Dar es Salaam (Dar), Tanzania as case studies. While there exists myriad examples of child focused development programming, the importance of the study is that it speaks to the lack of attention to the two disparate fields of urban agriculture and social policy reform as it pertains to street youth. The paper will describe, in brief, the relevant social, political and economic dimensions of urban agriculture in Dar and underscore the need for social policy literature to see the role and relations of youth to urban agriculture which is promoted in order to reclaim city spaces, rebuild urban centers in balance with nature and contribute to urban food security. Analysis focuses on the nature and quality of the urban agriculture programming approaches as interpreted by centre youth using a variety of participatory research methods including photography, art and radio drama in addition to interviews with centre staff and government stakeholders. It is argued that urban agriculture programs which offer youth the development of their effective domain of learning by studying and working with nature and gaining urban gardening skills and knowledge enables them to reconnect with their cultural values and the wider community with potential to strengthen youthÕs sense of empowerment and social inclusion. The tenuous support for urban agriculture in the face of commercial development and the widely held negative stereotypes around street youth suggest that this combination is not without its challenges and should be strengthened through further social policy research and development.

Keywords / street youth, social exclusion, urban agriculture, participatory research with youth, social policy reform, Tanzania

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February 2, 2006

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture