What it is about


Unprecedented rural to urban migration is placing enormous burdens on city areas across Africa. As a consequence, informal settlements are growing rapidly. The lack of appropriate sanitation, combined with high population densities, creates an environment suited to the outbreak of various waterborne diseases. Furthermore, rates of food insecurity in these settlements are amongst the worst on the continent. Together these development challenges account for the urban poor being amongst the most vulnerable populations in the world. Thus, efforts that seek to improve livelihoods across the rural-urban nexus are critical to socially equitable and ecologically sustainable development in Africa.

Goals of RUNRES

RUNRES seeks to address the development challenges of sanitation and food insecurity by

  • identifying
  • testing
  • and installing

innovations (related to waste-recycling and small-scale processing) to improve resilience and sustainability of regional food systems. These innovations will be implemented through a transdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder development process.

The African city regions targeted are:

  • Arba Minch, Ethiopia
  • Kigali, Rwanda
  • Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Msunduzi, South Africa


The initial phase of RUNRES will focus on the establishment of a vibrant and inclusive transdisciplinary innovation platform (tdIPs) in each of the city region food systems. This will entail the identification and inclusion of key stakeholders, the identification and testing of selected innovations, and the acquisition of a comprehensive baseline understanding of the biophysical and socio-economic circumstances for each city region.

RUNRES will target

  • The installation of ecologically sound, socially acceptable and hygienically safe innovative sanitation solutions that can improve public health, reduce environmental pollution and provide high quality agricultural inputs.
  • Increased access and use of locally sourced soil amendments that will improve sustainable local agriculture.
  • Improved processes to increase value addition and hence farmers’ incomes.
  • Involvement of private actors across all sections of selected food value chains, with emphasis on empowerment, participation, and influence of women and youth.
  • The development of locally suitable solutions- private enterprise, public investment, public/private partnerships, and civic science that will enable sustainable sanitation and waste-recycling innovations.
  • Improved control of nutrient flows and recycling of nutrients across the rural-urban nexus.
  • Generation of improved economic opportunities, embedded in circular economy principles, that are sensitive to inequitable gender and age dynamics.
  • Facilitate an enabling policy environment for the scaling of selected innovations in partnership with policymakers and practitioners.
  • The diffusion of best practices and knowledge of identified innovations beyond the RUNRES focus regions.