No. 1: The Invisible Crisis: Urban Food Security in Southern Africa

This background paper seeks to systematically address a critical aspect of African food security: the vulnerability of the urban poor to food insecurity. In a continent undergoing rapid urbanization, with an increasingly greater proportion of the population looking to the towns and cities for their livelihood, the issue of urban food security has been curiously neglected. While the food security of urban populations obviously cannot be divorced from rural agricultural production, the relationship is far from simple. Many urbanites, even the very poorest, do not buy their food from small farmers within the boundaries of their own country. Large commercial farms are integral to urban food supply chains in many African countries, as are food imports from within and outside the region. Urban agriculture, in which the urban poor produce their own food, is sometimes advocated as the “key” to greater urban food security. But urban food security is much more than an issue of backyard gardens or rural-urban food transfers.

Jonathan Crush & Bruce Frayne

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