Improving health, wellbeing and nutrition: What limits or enables the uptake of healthy diets in Nairobi’s informal settlements?

Working Paper 8

Samuel Owuor, Lilian Otiso, Veronica Mwangi and Inviolata Njoroge

February 2024


Current patterns of urban population growth, poverty, food insecurity, and poor health and nutrition are becoming increasingly urban challenges, with those living in informal settlements being the most affected. Although health and nutrition conditions are relatively better in Kenya’s urban centres, the situation is worse among low-income urban populations living in informal settlements. High levels of stunting, wasting, underweight and micronutrient deficiencies, especially among children, are common in urban informal settlements and are manifestations of malnutrition, largely associated with socioeconomic inequalities, inadequate hygiene and dietary risk factors. Furthermore, there is an increased clustering of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among residents of low socioeconomic status, especially due to health inequalities and diet-related diseases. This working paper presents the findings from an investigation into the state of health, wellbeing and nutrition (HWN) in Nairobi, Kenya, with a particular focus on what factors enable or limit the uptake of healthy diets in low-income and marginalised urban populations in Nairobi City. The concept of “healthy diets” is gaining currency among policymakers, who are becoming increasingly aware of the crucial importance of health and nutrition for wellbeing, both for individuals and for wider society. The findings in this working paper will contribute to our knowledge of health, wellbeing and nutrition in Nairobi’s low-income settlements and will help to inform wider debates and initiatives in the city.


Healthy diets, food security, informal settlements, low-income, health, wellbeing, nutrition, Nairobi