The drastic measures taken to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020 had severe repercussions of livelihoods and food security, especially in Nairobi’s sprawling informal settlements. The lockdown of several metropolitan areas, and imposition of a dusk to dawn curfew, led to the disruption of national and urban food systems and a rise in food prices even as many lost their jobs due to the resulting economic downturn.
The video diaries project was a pilot implemented as part of TMG’s Urban Nutrition Hub workstream, which explores the application of digital tools to enhance the integration of food insecure populations to urban food systems. The aim was to enable a cross-section of Nairobi residents to articulate their experiences of the pandemic, and hence provide diverse perspectives on how to enhance access to food and related services, especially for low-income residents.
In April 2020, the project provided smartphones to a group of 15 people, including peri-urban and urban farmers, food traders, informal vendors, and consumers of low or irregular income, and supported them to make regular video recordings of their experiences over a six month period. The participants discussed their daily struggles to produce, transport, and access safe and nutritious food while coping with the multiple challenges of sustaining their livelihoods.
With approximately 100 video diaries
published by the end of the pilot, this initiative offers unique insights into the short and medium-term impacts of the pandemic on the food security of urban dwellers in Nairobi. It also documents the multiple coping strategies and innovations the diarists developed to overcome challenges and barriers.
In a follow up phase, the project will “revisit” the project participants one year later to chart how they have continued to cope with the pandemic and offer insights on how to ensure a more supportive policy environment for inclusive urban food systems.