The Impact of Infrastructure on Urban Household Vulnerability to Food Security in Maputo

PhD Thesis, University of Waterloo

Infrastructure is an important foundation for urban sustainability. Infrastructure includes both a system of institutions like banks and hospitals (known as social infrastructure) and a network of physical utilities like water and power grids (known as physical infrastructure). Social infrastructure allows households to access social services while physical infrastructure allows households to access physical resources. A lack of household access to either social or physical infrastructure can make a household vulnerable to poverty. Maputo provides one example of this relationship. The city is characterised by a dualistic split between a formal downtown core and informal peri-urban areas. The households in the formal areas of Maputo tend to have a greater access to both social and physical infrastructure, while households in the informal areas tend to have reduced access to both. In Maputo, a lack of household access to social and physical infrastructure also increases the odds that a household will be food insecure. This means that inconsistent infrastructure access seems to predispose a household to food insecurity. Using household survey data collected from 2071 households in Maputo, this investigation applied binary logistic regression analysis to predict three measures of household food insecurity: the Household Dietary Diversity Score, the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale, and the Months of Adequate Household Food Provisioning. Two sets of independent variables were used in this analysis: inconsistent household access to physical and social infrastructure (measured by inconsistent access to water, electricity, medical care, and a cash income) and a set of social vulnerability indicators (the sex, education, and employment status of the household head, low household income, household size, dwelling informality, and the chronic illness of a household member). The results demonstrate that households with inconsistent access to infrastructure have greater odds of being food insecure even while controlling for income level, the presence of chronic illness, household size, dwelling informality, or the gender of the household head. The relationship is also very reliable. Using only household access to water, electricity, medical care, and a cash income, it was possible predict whether a sampled household was food insecure with 75% accuracy (in the sampled population). This relationship has important implications for urban planning and municipal social policy. Households in areas with limited access to infrastructure are more likely to be food insecure even when low income is controlled for. Based on these findings, investment in urban infrastructure access may have a knock-on impact on household food insecurity in Maputo. These findings suggest a preliminary alternative intervention for household food security beyond complex and potentially confounding economic policy intervention.

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Cameron McCordic