Improving dietary quality and livelihoods using farm and wild biodiversity through an integrated community-based approach in Kenya


Food security, nutrition security, wild edible plants, biodiversity, sustainable use, arid environments, species distribution modeling




The overall project aims at improving dietary diversity among local people in Turkana County and Busia County, Kenya, using agro-based and wild biodiversity to reduce undernutrition and micronutrient deficiency. It employs an integrated community-based approach that involves communities, extension workers, NGOs, policymakers, and researchers. Research carried out at ZEF aims at assessing availability and sustainable harvesting of wild edible plants (WEPs) in Turkana County in northwestern Kenya. We will: 1) Determine priority WEPs to the local community, 2) Assess spatial distribution patterns of the priority woody WEPs at different spatial scales, 3) Evaluate the harvesting potential of priority woody WEPs, and 4) Assess potential threats to the priority woody WEPs. Our results will help in formulating guidelines for the conservation and sustainable use of the priority woody WEPs in Turkana County and may inform efforts to meet food security goals in other arid and semi-arid parts of Kenya and Africa.


The ZEF-based study will employ three major methodological approaches:
i. Community-based participatory approach to identify the priority woody WEPs, their harvesting sites, and potential threats facing them.
ii. Woody WEPs population assessment using line-transect along riverine harvesting sites to estimate distribution and population of the priority WEPs based on estimated total riverine coverage within the study area.
iii. Ecological Niche Modeling/Species Distribution Modeling to determine present potential distribution of the priority woody WEPs within northwestern Kenya.

Main Cooperation Partners

The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, Nairobi, Kenya (overall project lead) and many Universities, NGOs, and policy partners, for example, The University of Nairobi, Kenya; University of Göttingen, Germany; University of Hohenheim, Germany; Save the Children, Kenya; Ministry of Health and Sanitation in Turkana, Kenya; Ministry of Agriculture, Pastoral Economies and Fisheries in Turkana, Kenya

Main Funding Partners

This work received financial support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) commissioned and administered through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Fund for International Agricultural Research (FIA), grant number: 81235248

Duration of the Project

01 October 2019 – 30 June 2023



Christine Schmitt

Prof. Dr. Christine Schmitt


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