Food Change Lab Lusaka

In Lusaka Province, food insecurity is at stake, This is caused by both climate change and rapid urbanisation. Chongwe District is one of the six rural districts in Lusaka Province, located 45 kilometres east of Lusaka City. The main economic activity in the district is agriculture.  The farmers predominantly grow maize and vegetables to satisfy Lusaka and other surrounding areas’ demand. Zambia’s diet is very unilateral, because corn is subsidized by the government. The staple food in the country is nshima, a dish made from maize flour and water. It contains lots of carbohydrates but lacks nutrients.

Lusaka City is growing towards the town of Chongwe with the majority of the people settling in the area and with new infrastructure projects being developed throughout the District. Rapid urbanization means services are stretched beyond their limits, resulting in inadequate supplies of nutritious food, portable water, sewage collection and disposal, and other vital services. The Food Change Lab brings together the different players at stake: government, researchers, producers, traders, citizens, CSOs and the creative sector. Parties aim to create an environment where the urban low income consumers can enter into a dialogue with authorities. The ultimate goal is to reshape the food systems of Lusaka District. Moreover, the Food Lab will work to explore and strengthen the positive links between the urban area and the local economy of the food-producing Chongwe District.

Initial results of the 2015 Food Change Labs

The challenge of the Food Lab has been defined by the people in the area. The players in the Food Lab are working towards influencing access to and availability of diverse and nutritious foods which are affordable as well. Much of the consumption patterns are attributed to lack of knowledge about what is good and nutritious food; low production and the government subsidized maize production. So far, the Food Change Lab resulted in plans to produce more ‘forgotten vegetables’ atlas and re-inventing old ways of storage like drying mushrooms.