Hungry Cities: A Critical Review of Urban Food Security Research in Sub-Saharan African Cities

Geography Compass

Jane Battersby

There has been renewed interest in the issue of food in cities in sub-Saharan Africa. A similar renewal has been noted in the North American and European contexts. However, the political, practical, and ideological starting points of these research endeavors are quite different. This paper presents a historical and political lens through which the trajectories of urban food research in sub-Saharan African can be understood. It begins with a historical analysis of the field and uses this to explain why urban food security has been neglected or narrowly engaged as a problem with a developmental rather than political focus. Through this analysis, the paper connects the emergence of urban agriculture to the experience of structural adjustment and discusses why urban agriculture has become the primary focus of academic and policy work on food in cities in the region. Following this, emerging repoliticized research trajectories are discussed. The paper concludes by suggesting that these emerging research themes provide a means for synergies between urban food work in the global North and South to be developed.


Featured City: Cape Town, South Africa

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