Maren Wesselow
Scientific Fellow

+49 (0)441 798-2798

A5 0-033



ECOSOLA works on the basis of the four work packages (WP) (i) Governance and resilient institutions for urban agriculture, (ii) Securing multiple ecosystem services in multifunctional urban landscapes, (iii) Improving organic urban farming practices in Dar es Salaam and (iv) Improved organic urban farming practices in the Western Cape region of South Africa.

WP 1: Governance and resilient institutions for urban agriculture

Urban agriculture in most African cities takes place in largely informal settings lacking long-term institutional foundations such as land titles or formalised leases. The vulnerability due to the high risk of farmers to be expelled from the land they use leaves many potentials of urban agriculture unexploited. In particular, investments in intensified use patterns, cascade use, or organic practices such as certification generally are not being ventured. Thus, formalised structures clearly defined and formalised land titles and tenures will be essentially needed as a basic precondition for the improvement of urban agriculture in the direction of an organic and ecosystem-based approach.

This work package analyses the institutional frameworks for farmers in urban and peri-urban areas in the study regions of Dar es Salaam and the Eastern and Western Cape of South Africa. Within a participatory and qualitative as well as quantitative study approach, the work package analyses causal factors for the vulnerability of the farmers. In close coordination with the other work packages, the work package seeks to develop adequate institutional improvements and develop together with decision makers’ pathways and action plans for the implementation of the options identified.

WP 2: Sustainable management of primary resources to provide multiple ecosystem services

The East-African Coastal Biodiversity Hotspot, with the Megacity of Dar es Salaam at its centre, has suffered from long-time overexploitation of plant and animal species habitats. Existing nature reserves are few and relatively small. Urbanisation in combination with climate change has aggravated the loss of habitats, due to increasing demands for land and wood energy. Often, unsuitable or environmentally sensible areas were built up and urbanized, such as flood prone valleys or sites with brackish water. In addition, climate change is negatively affecting the natural resource base on which the economy depends. Enlarging each house with a home garden could aggravate these problems as the urbanized space required per inhabitant will increase. Here, we ask how urbanization combining housing, food security, bioenergy availability and infrastructure could be organized in space and managed sustainably accommodating essential ecosystem services such as water retention, heat control, and soil restoration.

This work package pursues the following detailed objectives:

  • To quantify provisioning, regulatory and cultural ecosystem services for rural and urban landscapes, the latter differentiated in formal and informal settlements, with or without home gardens.
  • To develop zoning and planning principles of multifunctional peri-urban land uses on environmentally suitable sites for the East African Biodiversity Hotspot, including corridors with sustainable fuel wood production, a matrix of houses with home gardens, and reserves for biodiversity conservation.
  • To upscale planning principles of sustainable urbanization to the national policy level and to develop recommendations for planning processes also in other countries of sub- Saharan Africa.
  • To develop lessons for teaching students in environmental planning of urbanisation processes.

WP 3: Effective multi-purpose urban agriculture, case study: Dar es Salaam

Practices of UPA in Dar es Salaam, particularly open-space farming, are strongly limited to crops with short return-intervals (mainly vegetables) that require extensive inputs. Furthermore, economic returns that can be gained from land investments like the construction of buildings and other urban infrastructure outperform current UPA practices in the city and its surroundings by far. This lack of competitiveness of UPA threatens the livelihoods of numerous small-holder farmers as well as food security in Dar es Salaam.

This work package focuses on the promotion of improved organic farming practices, like the cultivation of high value crops in green houses on urban and peri-urban farms in Dar es Salaam. It aims to:

  • increase the productivity of farms
  • reduce negative environmental impacts of UPA
  • enhance the competitiveness of UPA against other land investments
  • contribute to address the issues of food security and income generation for unemployed women and youth

WP 3 takes a participatory approach by involving multiple stakeholders, including small- holder farmers and other community members, agricultural extension workers, local and municipal government authorities, non-governmental organizations dealing with organic farming and scientists.

WP 4: Effective organic solutions, case study: South Africa

Many commercial food crops require high levels of plant nutrients and are highly susceptible to damage by pests and diseases. Adapting to climate change in and to conditions of urban agriculture also requires crops which are heat-tolerant, have low levels of water requirement and can survive in harsh environments. Crop rotations which supress pests and diseases, cycle nutrients and provide good nutrition can help improve food security.

Identify successful crops in Kos en Fynbos gardens; compare with rotations already under trial in the Saasveld long term trials and those being used by Eden PGS members and Green Road PGS members, and examine Tanzanian crops and crop rotations. WP4 also seeks to analyse combinations of agricultural cash crops, fruits, legumes, staple food (intercropping) with regard to yields for small plot sizes under conditions of reducing chemicals, artificial fertilizers, ensuring pest control. What are the best variations in tropical (Dar es salaam study sites) and sub-tropcial climates (Western Cape study sites) and which economic consequences do they have?

(Changed: 20 Apr 2022)