HCP Discussion Paper No. 19: Food Insecurity and Alternative Food Networks in Cities of the Global South

Using the concept of Alternative Food Networks (AFNs), this discussion paper interrogates these networks and asks how they manifest in the context of food insecurity in cities of the global South. AFNs evident in Northern cities generally present a perspective of the food system that prioritises sustainability and a deep green and often local ethic, embodying aspirations of food system change. In Southern cities, food system engagement is less about engagement for change, but rather to enable food access. Traditional value chain parlance sees a value chain extending from producer to consumer. Drawing on research from food security studies carried out in Cape Town, this paper argues that the food access value chain present within poor urban communities in South Africa reflects more than just financial transactions. Transactions of reciprocity and social exchange are embedded within food security strategies, and are often informed by the enactment of agency. This paper calls for a far more expansive view of food access strategies and networks. Understanding these networks is essential to effective food and nutrition security policy and programming.

Gareth Haysom

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