South-South Migration and Urban Food Security: Zimbabwean Migrants in South African Cities

Journal of International Migration. 2017, 55(4): 88-102.

The drivers of food insecurity in rapidly‐growing urban areas of the Global South are receiving more research and policy attention, but the precise connections between urbanization and urban food security are still largely unexplored. In particular, the levels and causes of food insecurity amongst new migrants to the city have received little consideration. This is in marked contrast to the literature on the food security experience of new immigrants from the South in European and North American cities. This article aims to contribute to the new literature on South‐South migration and urban food security by focusing on the case of recent Zimbabwean migrants to South African cities. The article presents the results of a household survey of migrants in the South African cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg. The survey showed extremely high levels of food insecurity and low dietary diversity. We attribute these findings, in part, to the difficulties of accessing regular incomes and the other demands on household income. However, most migrants are also members of multi‐spatial households and have obligations to support household members in Zimbabwe. We conclude, therefore, that although migration may improve the food security of the multi‐spatial household as a whole, it is also a factor in explaining the high levels of insecurity of migrants in the city.

Jonathan Crush, Godfrey Tawodzera