Kingston, the capital and largest city of Jamaica, is a lively and culturally rich urban center home to a diverse population of over 670,000 people. The city is known for its vibrant music scene, and boasts a mix of colonial-era architecture, bustling markets, and modern developments. However, the city faces socioeconomic challenges, including poverty and crime rates, which have been areas of focus for urban development initiatives.

Kingston has a long history of trade and, as a result, the food system in Kingston has become tightly integrated into global food distribution networks. The importance of imported food to the Kingston food system, however, does not overshadow the role of local informal markets and producers as food sources to Kingston residents. The influence of imported food also does not overshadow the unique local cuisine and its importance to Kingston culture. The combination of these local and global forces in shaping Kingston demonstrates the unique and vibrant nature of this urban food system.





Towards a New Food Security Index for Urban Household Food Security

The multidimensionality of food security can confound both statistical modelling and clear policy narratives. That complexity can become amplified in urban areas where food security is often a function of both local and global factors. Rather than focusing on one dimension of food security metrics, this investigation proposes a method for building an index of urban household food access, utilization and stability. The performance of this index is compared across three aggregation methods using household surveys collected from five cities ...

The Role of Infrastructure Access in Urban Household Vulnerability to Food Insecurity in Southern Cities

The geographical concentration of poverty in informal neighbourhoods across cities is a common socio-economic feature of the urban form. Many of these impoverished areas also suffer from limited access to urban infrastructure. Given the expense and planning necessary to develop urban infrastructure, these areas are socially vulnerable in part because of their exclusion from urban master plans. This vulnerability is made more severe by the knock-on impacts of limited infrastructure access on other aspects of human insecurity. This paper uses ...

The Political Economy of Informal Food Vending in Kingston, Jamaica

Small-scale food enterprises occupy a critical space in the food system of Kingston, Jamaica. While small-scale food retailers serve the entire population, they are disproportionately relied on by poor urban households. The nodes and networks of retailers play an important role in the value and commodity chain by providing access to comparatively cheap food but are often affected by economic vagaries and state-level regulation, among other factors that potentially challenge the sustainability of trade. These issues are potentially offset by ...

Governing the Informal Food Sector in Cities of the Global South

The role of the informal food sector in the urban food system cannot be appreciated or understood without the compilation and analysis of systematic and representative data on the activities of informal enterprises across a city and along food supply chains outside it. At present, there are significant gaps in the knowledge base about the character, operation, and roles of the informal food sector; a pre-requisite for sound and supportive governance. This paper presents evidence on the relative importance of ...

Compounding Vulnerability: A Model of Urban Household Food Security

The efficiency of the infrastructure systems in cities will define the extent to which dystopic visions of urban futures become a reality. At the level of the individual household, vulnerability to hazards in cities is defined, in part, by the ability to access essential resources and services. This discussion paper proposes a model to help explain the relationship between access to urban infrastructure systems and household vulnerability to food insecurity. Food access in cities is primarily achieved through food purchases, ...

Hungry Cities of the Global South

The recent inclusion of an urban Sustainable Development Goal in the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda represents an important acknowledgement of the reality of global urbanization and the many social, economic, infrastructural and political challenges posed by the human transition to a predomi- nantly urban world. However, while the SDG provides goals for housing, transportation, land use, cultural heritage and disaster risk prevention, food is not mentioned at all. This discussion paper aims to correct this unfortunate omission by reviewing the ...


Enhancing Food Security through Urban Agriculture in Kingston, Jamaica

Much focus has been accorded rural agriculture, both in the literature and in practice. Yet urban agriculture is both a viable and necessary area of focus as it pertains to food security in Jamaica. An education and communication strategy is required to ensure that attitudes towards nutrition and poor food choices are changed (within the range of affordability) in efforts to achieve food security. Given the threats posed by climate change, the development of urban agriculture should incorporate not only ...

Demand: The Forgotten Side of Informal Economy Policy

Policymakers who seek to support informal economic activity too often rely on supply-side solutions that fail to address the central needs of the urban poor. Efforts should instead focus on the alleviation of poverty to ensure that potential customers have the economic means to buy sufficient food to meet their needs. Governments must prioritize the promotion of adequate formal employment opportunities to ensure that the urban poor have livelihood options beyond informality.

An Urban Perspective on Food Security in the Global South

The global food security policy community should reorient its actions on food security in the Global South to consider the urban food consumer. Since it is currently working with value chains in rural areas, we recommend that this view is extended into urban areas. Specifically, global and multilateral actors and national and local governments need to prioritize an urban food security agenda by engaging in and strengthening intra-urban value chains. This will have the dual result of lowering prices and ...


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Can the Caribbean Localize Its Food System? Exploring Strategies to Promote Circular Food Systems in the Caribbean Islands

- Master Thesis -  Food security is a global concern and will remain so in the foreseeable future as the global food system experiences pressures on both the production and demand sides. Modern agriculture has given rise to a linear food production and consumption system. Such a food system is deemed inherently unsustainable and damaging to the health of populations. ...

Growing What We Eat, Eating What We Grow: Investigating the Enduring Role of Jamaica’s Domestic Food System

- PhD Thesis -  From Spanish colonization in the 15th century until today, Jamaica’s agri-food system has been firmly linked to a global network of trade through its agricultural exports and food imports. Common assumptions in critical food studies literature imply that countries with close links to global food and agricultural trade come at the expense of their own domestic ...


Characterisation, Challenges and Resilience of Small-Scale Food Retailers in Kingston, Jamaica

Small-scale food enterprises occupy a critical space in the food system of Kingston, Jamaica. While they serve the entire population, poor urban households are disproportionately reliant on small-scale food retailers. The nodes and networks of retailers play an important role in the value and commodity chain by providing access to comparatively cheap food but are often impacted by economic vagaries and state-level regulation amongst other factors which potentially challenge the sustainability of the trade. These issues are potentially offset by ...
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