March 15, 2024

FoodCloud in Kenya

Trisha Norton

By Trisha Norton

Irish Aid is funding a project that is bringing the technology platform Foodiverse, developed by FoodCloud in Ireland, to Kenya. Project Manager Trisha Norton has recently returned from Nairobi.

The aim of this project is to share FoodCloud’s technology to enable a local food bank to create a virtual food banking system, thereby reducing food waste, increasing food redistribution, decreasing the carbon footprint of the food system and combating climate change and food insecurity

During the research phase of the project, Kenya was selected, and with collaboration from partners Food Banking Kenya and the Global Foodbanking Network, we are already seeing direct results since implementation began four months ago. 

Photo: Members of the FBK team and FoodCloud team in the FBK warehouse in Nairobi (l-r Mwanzia Muasia, Susan Mukuhi, Beatrice  Macharia, Trisha Norton, Moses Nyoro, John  Gathungu)

I was struck by the beauty and diversity of the landscape in Kenya, and the size of the farms; there are farms that run for miles growing a huge range of vegetables for export markets. Indeed, one of the main areas of focus is agricultural recovery; the Foodiverse app facilitates  redistribution of farm level food surplus -  fresh fruits and vegetables that would otherwise be wasted - and redirects this produce towards beneficiary agencies most in need of food. The team on the ground in Kenya is onboarding large farms, such as the East African Growers Association in Naivasha, the agricultural region in the north east of Kenya. It is here that large scale farmers grow foods for export globally. When vegetables are harvested but do not meet cosmetic standards, the food is generally  wasted. With the aid of Foodiverse, however, up to six tonnes of produce a week is being directed to the Food Banking Kenya hub in Nairobi where it is then distributed into the local community, to school food programmes, informal settlements, and children’s homes. 

Photo: Members of the FBK team outside Soul Mercy Education, a beneficiary agency in Nairobi. 

With rising fuel prices and costs of living, it is becoming increasingly difficult for beneficiary agencies in outer counties to justify driving long distances to collect food into central Nairobi. Foodiverse is now helping reduce long journeys for collection and redistribution. 

One such example of this case is with the children’s home, Mum’s Love, based in Nairobi. Previously, Mum’s Love would have to drive the 55 km distance to collect food from the Food Banking Kenya warehouse, costing them 4000 KS. Now, with the aid of the Foodiverse app, they are being connected directly with donations from a packhouse called Wisephyk, 15 km away. With the cost of transport halved, and the cadence of donations tripling, it is easy to see the potential for the impact of the app across Kenya with use cases like this so early on in the project. 

Photo: City market in Nairobi centre.

This is especially important for more remote areas, such as the Rift Valley, where the indigenous Masai people are seeing the immediate impact of climate change with drier lands and changing seasons. By training local organisations on the food donation platform Food Banking Kenya can act as the intermediary between the donor and those most in need. 

Photo: Members of the FBK team and FoodCloud team with Rebecca and her son Steven who are part of the Masai community based in the Rift Valley.

Alongside the balmy conditions, the level of hospitality and generosity of the Kenyan people really brings a warmth and enthusiasm to the rollout of the project. Since the project began in November 2023, over 90 tonnes of food has been rescued  through the app, the equivalent of over 390,000 meals. The project is due to end its pilot phase in September 2024 where it will be reassessed in terms of wider expansion. The Foodiverse in Kenya project - or as it is affectionately dubbed ‘Project Kenyaverse’ -   is a clear demonstration of an Irish organisation tangibly and currently supporting those on the front line of climate change on a daily basis.

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