Under the Urban Zoo umbrella, we have been sampling chicken farms as well as chicken meat retailers in Kibera, Nairobi, in order to investigate the prevalence of a food-borne pathogen, Campylobacter. Kibera, said to be the largest urban slum in Africa, is a surprising, challenging and rewarding environment to work in. The constantly evolving environment illustrates urban farming in its most inventive form. Densely populated and very low-income, the urban landscape goes from shiny newly-built roads, public toilets and other community spaces, often sponsored by donors, to muddy alleyways with open sewers and precarious living spaces.
Livestock is part of everyday life. Goats roam everywhere – some even took a nap under our car – as well as chickens, ducks, and sometimes even camels. People are keen to discuss their farming arrangements and projects, or laugh at our interest for the local chickens (kienyeji kukus), which seem so uneventful to them. As sampling is ongoing, results for Campylobacter presence are not yet available. This bacteria, common in chickens, yet not harmful to them, can lead to severe diarrhoea in humans, especially children. Poultry in Kibera often sleep in houses; kids and chickens run alike in courtyards; we have found chicken-raising pens on a shelf, behind doors, above some roofs and in other unexpected places. With such a diverse interface between humans and chickens, it will be valuable to determine the presence of Campylobacter and better understand related public health risks.
Article by Maud Carron
This blog entry is an article on our quarterly Urban Zoo Newsletter Volume 3 Issue 3 which can be accessed by clicking here.