Food, Place, and Culture in Urban Africa: Comparative Consumption in Gaborone and Blantyre

Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition

Alexander Legwegoh & Liam Riley

Urban food insecurity is an increasingly important research and policy challenge in urbanizing sub-Saharan Africa. There is growing concern within food security literature about the paradoxical expansion of both hunger and obesity within African cities, and yet there is insufficient research from a social sci- ence perspective to explain the coexistence of dietary deficiency, micronutrient deficiencies, and obesity in Africa’s diverse urban contexts. Locally appropriate strategies to address the multiple health effects of under- and overnutrition are developed within unique environmental conditions and constraints, different economic systems, and different cultural milieux. These factors shape what foods are available, which ones are affordable, and how urban residents subjectively experience food security. This article analyzes the Household Dietary Diversity Scores (HDDS) from a regional survey, focusing on a qualitative comparison of Gaborone, Botswana, and Blantyre, Malawi, to draw out the embedded differences in food consumption patterns in the 2 cities, raising several implications of these differences for understanding urban food security in sub-Saharan Africa. The comparison generates insights into the limitations of quantitative metrics of food security abstracted from the local context and highlights the importance of geographical observations of environment, political economy, and culture for understanding urban food security.


Featured City: Blantyre, Malawi, Gaborone, Botswana

Featured Country: Botswana, Malawi

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