Gendered Mobilities and Food Access in Blantyre, Malawi

2014, Urban Forum 25: 227-239.

Access to food, rather than a shortage of food availability, is the central problem for urban household food security. Blantyre presents a useful case study for demonstrating the importance of linking gender and urban food security. Rates of urban food insecurity are less severe than in other cities surveyed by AFSUN. Yet, female-centred households were twice as likely to be severely food insecure as nuclear households. This paper offers some explanations for the survey findings by drawing on qualitative research to understand the gendered geographies of food access in Blantyre. The first point is that gender shapes mobility, which in turn shapes a household’s ability to increase its food security by procuring food from the most affordable sources, particularly peri-urban markets. The second point is that gender shapes a household’s ability to produce its own food, a popular livelihood strategy in Blantyre that often mitigates the effects of low incomes on household food security. The third point is that gender influences a person’s potential income, which shapes the household’s economic access to food. These three points demonstrate the multi-dimensional relationship between gender and urban food security.

Liam Riley & Belinda Dodson