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Chapter 3. Uganda: the household logic of urban farming in Kampala,

Daniel G. Maxwell

Among the various claims in the literature on the impact of structural adjustment programs on the urban poor and wage-earning classes in Africa is that made by Pinstrup-Andersen (1989). He refers briefly to Kampala to suggest that access to land for semisubsistence production may buffer or prevent the decline in nutritional status and household food security that is widely believed to be to the product of the urban economic crisis, or structural adjustment, or both. The source to which Pinstrup-Andersen refers is an article by Jamal (1988, p. 684), who claims that "Kampala is twice as self-sufficient in calories now as it was in 1972." Although this statement may well be true, Jamal does not present evidence on either caloric intake or nutritional status of farming families within the city.

The depth of the economic crisis in African cities in the 1980s has been well documented (Jamal and Weeks 1987; Stren and White 1989). In the case of Kampala, the urban economic crisis began much earlier than in many other cities in the region, as a result of the Amin regime's "economic war" in the early 1970s, which created space for an indigenous bourgeoisie, but undermined much of the formal economy (Banugire 1985; Mamdani 1990). Wage income fell precipitously in relation to the cost of living between the end of the 1970s and the present, and the major response at the household level was to diversify sources of income as a buffer against inflation and falling real wages (Bigsten and Kayizzi-Mugerwa 1992).

Only comparatively recently have donors and governments become aware of the potential risks to short- and medium-term food security and nutritional status of vulnerable groups in the process of adjustment. The conventional argument is that structural adjustment is designed to make farming a more economically attractive livelihood, and to solve the urban food problem through increased incentives for rural production. However, in the short- to medium-term, the burden on low- and middle-income urban households is increased.

The objective of this paper is to evaluate the various claims made about urban agriculture (UA) in Kampala. This includes reviewing the limited literature on the importance of UA in Kampala; attempting to assess what direct evidence is available on the question of nutritional status; examining the means of access to the critical land resource for UA; and understanding the logic of different kinds of households involved in urban food production to interpret why different groups of people engage in it.