Nutrition, Disease and Development: Long-wave Impacts of Urban Food Insecurity
Sub-Saharan Africa’s rapidly growing cities are facing not only an ‘urbanization of poverty’, but increasingly high levels of food and nutrition insecurity. This chapter draws on existing studies and survey data collected from 11 cities in nine Southern African countries by the African Food Security Urban Network (AFSUN) to explore the relationship between urban poverty and food and nutrition insecurity. The AFSUN data demonstrates that household income and the food security status of the household are positively correlated, and that income represents an important means of access to food for most individuals and households. A majority of the sampled households see high levels of food insecurity and undernutrition. At the same time, however, urbanization in the region is bringing with it a nutrition transition that is associated with another significant nutritional problem: overnutrition or obesity. This challenge is affecting not only the more affluent and better off, but also poor urban communities and households that are affected by a double burden of undernutrition and overnutrition. Regional research on the causes and consequences of urban overnutrition is (with the exception of South Africa) very much in its infancy. This chapter lays out an agenda for future research to fill significant knowledge gaps.