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The use of urban plant resources for health and food security in Kampala, Uganda

Mollee, Eefke Maria (2017) The use of urban plant resources for health and food security in Kampala, Uganda. PhD thesis, Prifysgol Bangor University.

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Abstract

With some of the highest urbanisation rates in the world, Sub-Saharan Africa faces serious challenges in providing sufficient, healthy and affordable foods for its growing urban populations. Urban biodiversity, such as homegardens can provide people with healthy food products in addition to other ecosystem services. However urban plant systems are under threat, and even though they provide multiple uses they are still poorly understood. In this dissertation, I explored two urban landscape options: homegardens and wild collection. The overall aim of this study was to provide an understanding of the current and potential contribution of urban plant resources to human wellbeing (with a focus on food security) in Kampala, Uganda. To fulfil this aim, I created 4 objectives: 1) to assess plant species composition and use in Kampala’s homegardens, 2) to explore associations between homegardens and socio-economic determinants of dietary diversity and fruit consumption of children aged 2-5 years, 3) to explore the prevalence and determinants of wild plant collectors in Kampala, Uganda, and 4) to assess the extent and importance of alternative food sources of different food groups for low income people. Through a two-stage cluster sampling design in inner-, outer- and peri-urban parts of the city, 96 low-income households were purposively selected in nine parishes. These homegardens were inventoried, plant uses were documented and respondents interviewed on socio-economic data, the status of household food insecurity and food sources. In addition, respondents were asked about wild collection behaviour. Dietary data (for Dietary Diversity Score (DDS) and Food Variety Score (FVS)) were collected from an index child (aged 2-5 years) and the child’s female caretaker. In the final dataset (n=74) a total of 270 plant species were identified of which 248 different food plants were considered useful: 101 medicinal species, 70 food plants, 53 technical plants and 24 ornamental species. Even though this study provided no direct evidence that higher garden agrobiodiversity improves dietary diversity and nutritional status of children during the fieldwork season, comparisons with secondary data suggests that the children included in this study have better nutritional status then urban children in Uganda overall. This could indicate that children with access to homegardens have better nutritional status. Moreover 5% of the food items consumed during the recall was derived from the homegardens and 33% of the food items came from neighbours or friends. In addition, half of the respondents reported collecting wild plants during the six months preceding the interview. From the total of 48 different plant species declared, almost half (23 species) were collected for food purposes, while the other 25 species were collected for medicinal purposes and were also collected more frequently. The findings indicate that urban homegardens and wild space can play an important role in human wellbeing. It is important to incorporate biodiversity and green structures in urban landscape designs to create holistic sustainable cities. However, this requires transdisciplinary collaborations between city planners, ecologists, human nutritionists and ethnobotanists. Highly valuable (and nutritious) plant species should be selected and promoted. Innovative practices should be developed and tested to lift the current barriers and challenges that keep people from growing them. The overall value of gardens and green space should be acknowledged and local knowledge rewarded. These are necessary steps that need to be taken to keep urban gardens and urban green space worthy of being in the city without being thought of as rural or polluted. Most importantly it provides Kampala with an opportunity to remain a leading green Garden City.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: Degree Thesis
Departments: College of Natural Sciences > School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography
Degree Thesis
Date Deposited: 01 Aug 2017 10:25
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2017 10:27
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/10247
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