What could go wrong with cooking? Exploring vulnerability at the water, energy and food Nexus in Kampala through a social practices lens.

Patience Mguni*, Bas van Vliet, Gert Spaargaren, Doreen Nakirya, Jimmy Osuret, John Bosco Isunju, Tonny Ssekamatte, Richard Mugambe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Sub-Saharan African cities like Kampala face challenges with rapid urbanization and impacts of climate change. These challenges have exacerbated the struggle to provide adequate infrastructural and socio-ecological services to Kampala's growing poor. Based on a social practices perspective, this paper presents a study of emergent vulnerabilities at the urban Nexus of water, energy and food (WEF) in the informal settlements of Bwaise and Kanyogoga. We employ methods of observation, interviews, focus group discussions and a vision-building workshop to explore the growing vulnerabilities of poor households as they daily navigate deteriorating water quality, rising energy prices and food insecurity. Results indicate that most household-level vulnerabilities relate to energy poverty. Households scale back on water treatment practices such as boiling and the cooking of highly-nutritious yet energy-demanding foods such as beans in efforts to conserve charcoal. Emergent practices of everyday resilience-building include the use of biomass briquettes as an alternative to solid charcoal as well as social networks and capital which allow households to borrow food and energy. We suggest the notion of ‘precarious consumption’ as a tool for understanding emergent everyday vulnerabilities in relation to the urban WEF Nexus service provision and resilience policy-making in cities of the Global South.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102086
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Volume63
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

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