RUNRES: The rural-urban nexus: Establishing a nutrient loop to improve city region food systems.

Implemented by the Institute for sustainable Agroecosystems of ETHZ, RUNRES will seek to improve the resilience and sustainability of food systems in four different rural-urban regions across Africa. It will encourage nutrient & waste recycling by installing and redirecting the byproducts of innovative, ecological, hygienically safe sanitation solutions. The organic matter may then serve as an input for smallholder producers to generate a circular flow of nutrients in agriculture, reinvigorating thus regional food systems.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Agriculture & food security
Employment & economic development
Agricultural development
Agricultural research
Agricultural policy
Water sanitation
Urban development
01.04.2018 - 30.04.2023
CHF  4’903’000
Background Unprecedented urban growth is placing enormous burdens on governments across Africa. Demand for infrastructure, services, and basic needs such as housing, sanitation, and food security is growing. The underserved communities in informal settlements rarely have access to running water or municipal sanitation services and suffer from chronic food insecurity. At the moment, the two critical development challenges are seen as disparate problems whose solutions are unrelated to each other. However, developing synergy between the two is not only possible, but necessary.
Objectives The main objective of RUNRES is to co-design, test, implement and scale safe, (cost-) efficient and socially acceptable innovations to valorize urban and rural waste resources and improve food value chains in order to enhance circular economies and thereby improve the resilience of city region food systems.
Target groups
  • Direct beneficiaries : Private entreprises, local municipalities, local organisations,
  • End beneficiaries: smallholder farmers and urban underserved communities.
Medium-term outcomes
  • Improved control of nutrient flows and recycling of nutrients across the rural-urban nexus.
  • 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.
  • Increased access and use of locally sources soil amendments that will improve sustainable local agriculture.
  • Facilitate an enabling policy environment for the scaling of ad diffuse selected innovations in partnership with policymakers and practitioners as well as beyond the RUNRES focus regions.

Expected results:  

  • Waste collection, transport, and processing is improved.
  • Pathways are established to increase local agricultural production with waste-recycled input products.
  • Best practices and knowledge are defined and scaling partners are engaged to diffuse them at local and regional level.
  • A network among agri-food system actors is established to implement food value chain innovations.

Results from previous phases:   The implementation of a transdisciplinary process requires the co-development of activities and outputs with relevant stakeholders in each of the four city region food systems. As such baselines for the first phase will be developed during the first year of the project implementation.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
Foreign academic and research organisation
Swiss Academic and Research Institution
  • Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
  • ETHZ Zurich

Coordination with other projects and actors The project will work and coordinate with a large network of different actors in the respective countries. It will also coordinate with FAO, Forum of Agriculture Research in Africa (FARA), the African Union, Cities alliance, Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology.
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    4’903’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    3’841’119 Total project since first phase Swiss budget CHF   119’900 Budget inclusive project partner CHF   9’150’000
Project phases Phase 1 01.04.2018 - 31.12.2023   (Current phase)