Approaching Food Security in Cities of the Global South

2014, In Susan Parnell and Sophie Oldfield (eds.), A Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South (London: Routledge).

The challenge of building sustainable and food secure cities has been identified as the critical development issue of the twenty-first century (Satterthwaite et al. 2010Birch and Wachter 2011Fox 2011). The cities of the south are being engulfed by a deepening crisis of food inaccessibility, characterized by growing food poverty, hunger and malnutrition, a lack of dietary diversity, child wasting and stunting, increased vulnerability to infectious and chronic disease, and a growing obesity epidemic (MSSRF 2010Crush et al. 2012Popkin et al. 2012). This urban crisis seems largely invisible to the policy and research communities concerned with global food security. Indeed, there was more research and policy debate on urban food insecurity in the 1990s, when the south was a lot less urbanized than it is today. Maxwell (1999) attributed the relative lack of attention to urban food security back then to the sheer complexity of the phenomenon. Since then, any residual concern with urban food security seems to have been swept aside by the new international food security agenda and its pervasive anti-urban bias (Crush and Frayne 2011). Significantly, the only aspect of urban food security that commands significant attention is urban agriculture, which is widely, but improbably, seen as the key to achieving food security in cities of the global south (Lee-Smith 2010).

Jonathan Crush