Approaching Urban Food Waste in Low- and Middle-Income Countries : A Framework and Evidence from Case Studies in Kibera (Nairobi) and Dhaka

Pedrotti, Michele; Fattibene, Daniele; Antonelli, Marta; Castelein, Bob


Increased urbanization rates pose crucial challenges in terms of food systems’ sustainability, including urban food waste (FW). The global narrative around FW has focused mainly on Western countries, but recent evidence shows that FW is also a major issue in the developing world. The objective of this article is to define the characteristics and drivers of urban FW in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). We firstly present a tailor-made three-step approach to identify urban FW hotspots in LMIC, understand the main drivers and design and implement prevention and reduction interventions considering LMIC food system characteristics. We then draw on results from four different urban FW case studies based in Nairobi (Kenya) and Dhaka (Bangladesh) and discuss their characteristics in light of the proposed approach. The case of Nairobi focuses on quantifying and understanding possible drivers of household FW in Kibera and characterizing FW disposal through a household survey (N = 774). The other three studies examine FW at retail, food service and institutional levels for onions, mangoes and beef in Dhaka. The results confirm that FW happens at the urban supply chain level, particularly among mobile vendors but also among households living below the poverty line. The article thus urges LMIC municipalities to consider urban FW strategies as a key action to tackle food security, environmental issues and FW management challenges.