Feeding African Cities: The Growing Challenge of Urban Food Insecurity

2014, In Susan Parnell and Edgar Pieterse (eds.), Africa’s Urban Revolution (London: Zed Books).

This chapter argues that the international food security agenda, which focuses on small farmer production as the means for alleviating poverty and hunger in Africa, is inadequate and will not achieve its objectives. This approach fails to acknowledge that within two decades Africa will be predominantly urban, following the global urban transition that is already well established. Analysis using data from the African Food Security Urban Network (AFSUN) baseline survey, which was carried out in 11 cities in nine southern African countries in 2008-09, demonstrates extremely high levels of urban food insecurity as a result of household poverty, high unemployment and limited income-generating opportunities, rather than because of food production and supply constraints. The analysis concludes that the immediate threat to food security for poor urban households is not food availability, but rather access, and that the issue of feeding the cities will become a defining development policy change for Africa in the coming decades.

Jonathan Crush & Bruce Frayne