Youth shaping urban food systems in Zambia and Zimbabwe

April 17, 2024

Our work on urban food systems in Zambia and Zimbabwe took off this March at the launch ceremonies of Hivos Southern Africa’s Urban Futures program in Bulawayo and Lusaka. The Urban Futures program will support young people and youth-led organizations focused on building climate-resilient urban food systems to ensure healthy and accessible food for all.

In partnership with local organizations in both cities, the project will develop solutions for food systems and waste management. In Lusaka, Hivos will work with the CUTS International, Global Network Solutions, and Copperbelt Health Education Project; in Bulawayo, the partners are the Bulawayo Vendors’ Traders Association and Green Governance Zimbabwe.

Youth at the forefront

Urban Futures provides a platform for youth to engage with decision makers, acquire knowledge, and facilitate knowledge sharing within the region. This was clear at the launch events in both countries, where young people led conversations with mayors, partners, and the general public.

Runyararo shares the Urban Futures vision
Runyararo Chibota shares the Urban Futures vision at the launch in Lusaka. Photo: Lizwe Chitanganya/Hivos

As Runyararo Chibota, the regional coordinator of Urban Futures in southern Africa, pointed out, “Urban Futures aims to create a thriving environment where natural resources are preserved and effectively utilized, offering young people opportunities to engage with policymakers, learn, and share expertise on a regional level.”

Influencing a new food culture

At both launches, conversations revolved mostly around how young people can drive innovation within the food systems in Zambia and Zimbabwe to influence and change  social attitudes and behavior.

Speaking at the launch in Lusaka, Hivos Southern Africa Regional Director Nana Zulu said that empowering young people to have a voice on climate action would foster a better food sector.

“Our mission is clear. It is to cultivate more inclusive and climate-resilient cities by empowering young people to voice their concerns, influence decisions, and seize opportunities within the food sector. We envision shorter value chains that provide healthy and sustainable food, making it accessible, affordable and appealing to all members of our communities, where we will see young agropreneurs who innovate and contribute to food security,” she said.

Nana Zulu giving her remarks during the launch of Urban Futures
Nana Zulu giving her remarks during the launch. Photo: Lizwe Chitanganya/Hivos

Building sustainable urban environments

The launch of Urban Futures in Bulawayo represented a step towards establishing sustainable and resilient urban food systems in Zimbabwe, setting a precedent for urban development across Africa, as the director of the Bulawayo Vendors’ Traders Association, Michael Ndiweni, stated.

“Building a sustainable future for our cities requires young people, community leaders, and other organizations to work together in order to positively impact the lives of individuals in Bulawayo, Mutare, and even beyond,” he said.

The Urban Futures program aims to build a greener tomorrow and has placed young people right at the center of its work. The program’s collaborative nature, emphasis on knowledge exchange, and unified purpose are all focused on creating a healthier and more sustainable future of food in cities.