Consumption patterns and nutrition

Urbanization and FNS

Consumption and food markets - Urbanization and FNS
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The world has been undergoing a rapid increase in urban population over recent years, with Africa and Asia urbanizing more rapidly than other regions of the world. One of the main reasons of such rapid urbanization is the rural-urban migration. Growing cities pose challenges to the food system, as more people living in an urban environment need to have access to quality food at a reasonable price. Food markets and systems need to adapt. This Knowledge Portal topic page deals with the global trend of urbanisation, and how it influences food and nutrition security. Theories and practice of interventions that aim to develop and strengthen urban food systems, or the rural-urban linkages, are presented on this topic page.

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The rush for land in an urbanizing world: From land grabbing toward developing safe, resilient, and sustainable cities and landscapes
Published by World Development,
This article elaborates on the importance of linking debates on land governance and urbanization. It aims to contribute to current discussions about “making cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable” (SDG 11) by linking debates that are currently taking place in separate containers: debates on the “global land rush” and the “new urban agenda”. It highlights some important processes that are overlooked in these debates and advances a new, socially inclusive urbanization agenda that addresses emerging urban land grabs. »
Global food policy report 2017
Published by IFPRI,
The Global Food Security Report is a yearly publication that provides a synthesis of all major developments regarding food policy. This edition pays special attention to the challenges of urbanization for food and nutrition security since rapid urbanization and population growth are expected to put growing pressure on the global food system as agricultural production comes under stress. »
A global analysis of land take in cropland areas and production displacement from urbanization
Published by Global Environmental Change,
This article analyses urban land take in cropland areas for the years 2000 and 2040, using a land systems approach. The results show that future urban expansion is primarily expected in areas that are also suitable and available for cropland, thus suggesting a continued competition for land between urban expansion and food production. »
Secondary towns, agricultural prices, and intensification: evidence from Ethiopia
Published by IFPRI, EDRI,
This working paper analyses how cities and secondary towns affect agricultural practices in their rural hinterlands. While most of the population in sub-Saharan Africa resides in cities and secondary towns, this relationship is not well understood. To fill this gap, a conceptual model was developed to analyze how farmers’ proximity to cities of different sizes affects agricultural prices and intensification of farming. The results show that agricultural price behavior and intensification is determined by proximity to a city and the type of city. »
Urban expansion brought stress to food security in China: Evidence from decreased cropland net primary productivity
Published by Science of The Total Environment journal,
This paper in the Science of the Total Environment journal assesses the impact of urban expansion on the CNPP in China from 1992 to 2015 in a spatially explicit manner. The authors concluded that rapid urban expansion from 1992 to 2015 caused stress to China's food security. It is still vital for China to effectively protect cropland to improve the urbanization level to 60% by 2020. »
Mapping the invisible: The informal food economy of Cape Town, South Africa
Published by AFSUN,
This report maps the informal food sector and argues that the sector is of significant importance for reaching improved nutrition status of people. The authors argue that the informal food retail sector is an important component of urban food systems and plays a vital role in ensuring access to food for the urban poor. Yet, policy frameworks to address food security and to govern the informal sector neglect informal retail and, as a result, the sector is poorly understood. »
Urbanisation, rural transformations and food systems: the role of small towns
Published by IIED; IFAD,
This paper reviews evidence of the role of small towns in the ‘virtuous circle’ of rural-urban linkages, and distils the key lessons for equitable food security policy that is spatially and context specific. Drawing on lessons from a set of case studies from Tanzania and other examples, this paper aims to contribute to this debate by uniting a food systems approach with an explicit focus on small towns and large villages that play a key role in food systems. »
The role of private sector in city region food systems
Published by The RUAF Foundation,
This report elaborates on the role of the private sector in building more sustainable city region food systems. Private sector actors have the potential to contribute to more sustainable city region food systems, but up to date information on their role and initiatives is scarce. Little is known about their drivers for engagement, the extent and type of impact of their interventions, their needs for support and enabling policy environments. This study was done in order to better analyse the role of the private sector in building more sustainable city region food systems... »
Sustainable food systems: The role of the city
Published by Robert Biel,
This book by Robert biel brings an interdisciplinary approach to the role of the city in sustainable food systems, creating a dialogue between the physical and social sciences. Faced with a global threat to food security, it is perfectly possible that society will respond, not by a dystopian disintegration, but rather by reasserting co-operative traditions. This book, by a leading expert in urban agriculture, offers a genuine solution to today’s global food crisis... »
Inclusive use of urban space
Published by The RUAF Foundation,
In this issue of the Urban Agriculture Magazine the central theme is community involvement in urban food planning. Urban agriculture and food systems are gaining the attention of planners and policy makers across the global south and north. While this emerging planning and policy attention is laudable, it must build on decades of community-led efforts to rebuild urban agriculture and community food systems. Failure to build on these on-the ground practices run the risk of developing policy that is uninformed and disconnected from the lived experiences of people in communities. »
Urban disasters and resilience in Asia
Published by Elsevier,
In this book published by Elsevier Chapter 11 is dedicated to urban food security in Asia. This chapter focuses on the issues of food security in terms of diminishing urban agriculture land. Comparative analyses of cases from developing urban centers in Asia are discussed in order to highlight the commonalities and differences employed to devise strategies... »
Investing to nourish India’s cities
Published by The Chicago Council,
This report investigates India's challenges with regard to ensuring urban food security and the difference among urban resident groups in food security status. India is forecast to experience the largest increase in urban population of any country in the world. Cities are important for India's economy and provide higher incomes, support increased consumption and access to quality food options. However, much of urban India is considered highly or moderately food insecure. »
City region food systems and food waste management: Linking urban and rural areas for sustainable and resilient development
Published by GIZ, The RUAF Foundation, FAO,
This policy brief describes the results of 13 case studies on city region food systems and food waste management. It provides lessons learned on the institutionalisation of city region food policies and programmes and on design of specific programmes and policies for sustainable city region food systems. The brief concludes that City region food systems (CRFS) are vital to the implementation of the New Urban Agenda in three key ways. »
Vacant lots to vibrant plots: a review of the benefits and limitation of urban agriculture
Published by Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future,
This report argues that the benefits of urban agriculture are important but may be overstated. The report examines the benefits and limitations of agriculture and provides an overview of the documented outcomes of urban agriculture so far. Urban agriculture’s most significant benefits center around its ability to increase social capital, community well-being, and civic engagement with the food system. However, special attention should be paid to ensure that residents have a voice in decision-making. »
Growing food for growing cities: Transforming food systems in an urbanizing world
Published by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs,
This report argues that the global food system must transform to feed growing cities and that this transformation need to create opportunities for small-scale and especially female farmers. The growth of cities fuels an unprecedented demand for food, due to changing diets of people moving to cities, in combination with increase population growth, climate change. Feeding cities presents a major opportunity to improve the plight of millions of small-scale farmers and rural residents trapped in subsistence agriculture and joblessness. »
Urban-rural linkages and their future: Impacts on agriculture, diets and food security
Published by Food Security: Meanings, Practices and Policies,
This article focuses on the urban-rural linkages in the emerging food system. Recent debates on food and agricultural issues emphasize the significance of the spatialization of food systems and location of agriculture. In this emerging food system geography, urban-rural relationships play a significant role in food value chains, food security and nutrition, which is still poorly understood. This presentation explores these issues based on rural-urban scenarios in 2050. »
Growing food for growing cities: Urbanization as an opportunity for many small-scale farmers
Published by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs,
This blog adresses the new market opportunities for small-scale farmers. The author argues that the demand from urban consumers who are buying food from newly available chain stores is swelling and huge quantities of food are bought in supermarkets. While innovations in urban or vertical farms have a niche role to play, the overwhelming majority of this food will be sourced domestically from rural areas. As such, growing urban markets offer a significant new economic opportunity for farmers. »
Informal food systems and food security in rural and urban East Africa
Published by IIED,
In this briefing it is argued that urbanization, population growth and environmental change in East Africa are generating distinct food security challenges for urban slum dwellers and the rural poor. The author argues that the relation between rural and urban areas will change, especially in relation to food security. By 2050, the proportion of urban residents in East Africa will increase from 25 to 44 per cent. »
Urban versus conventional agriculture, taxonomy of resource profiles: a review
Published by Agronomy for Sustainable Development Journal,
This article in the Agronomy for Sustainable Development Journal review knowledge on urban versus conventional agriculture. Urban agriculture appears to be a means to combat the environmental pressure of increasing urbanization and food demand. However, there is hitherto limited knowledge of the efficiency and scaling up of practices of urban farming. The authors review the claims on urban agriculture’s comparative performance relative to conventional food production. »
Multifunctional rooftop horticulture: a promising strategy for intensifying horticulture production in cities
Published by Chronica Horticulturae,
This article argues that multifunctional rooftop horticulture is one of the more promising strategies to increase horticulture production in urbanized areas. It summarizes the different models and advantages of rooftop horticulture and provides a review of the main features of rooftop horticulture. It brings together existing experiences as well as suggestions for planning of future sustainable cities. »
Urbanisation and evolving food security challenges
Published by Springer,
The book chapter delves into policy oriented research in the area of food security and sustainable development. It focuses on the relationship between food insecurity and urbanisation in different human development contexts. »
Mapping for food safety in Nairobi’s slums
Published by IIED,
This article explores how communities in informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya create and use maps to ensure food safety. While informal settlements tend to play a key role in the economies of cities, they are often not depicted on official maps from the government. However, a map on which food kiosks, street vendors and hazards such as rubbish dumps and open sewers are depicted can help to ensure food safety. »
Addressing undernutrition in the context of urbanisation in low- and middle-income countries
Published by DFID,
This report prepared for Department for International Development (DFID) of the UK, presents a set of challenges and opportunities for tackling under nutrition in low- and middle-income countries where DFID works. However, since it also displays different approaches to urbanisation issues, it can be useful for others practitioners in different countries. »
Urbanisation, rural transformations and food security: the view from China
Published by IIED,
This paper elaborates on the food security transition that China has undergone over the last 35 years. It tries to understand the evolving axes of inequality with regard to access to affordable, safe and nutritious food in the context of changing rural–urban linkages. In China the production, distribution and consumption of food changed in this period due to rapid economic growth, urbanisation and industrialisation. The paper discusses how this change was addressed by policies aimed at ensuring adequate food provision and the regulation of quality and safety. »
Urbanisation and rural development in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta: revisiting livelihood transformations in three fruit-growing settlements, 2006-2015
Published by IIED,
This article by IIED focusses on urbanisation and rural development in Vietnam's Mekong Delta. In 2006, the authors conducted a study of the social and economic transformations in three rural settlements in the area. Almost a decade later, this paper revisits the same settlements and describes their social and economic evolutions and the key factors that help decipher three distinct but similar trajectories. »
Can our global food system keep up with rapid urbanisation?
Published by GAIN,
This blogpost on the GAIN-webpage explores whether there are limits to the capacity of our global food system to deal with increased urbanization. The author argues that what is needed to ensure emerging urban markets do not lose nutritious foods, is the scaling up of innovative green cold chain technologies. »
Cities and agriculture: developing resilient urban food systems
Published by The RUAF Foundation,
This book “Cities and agriculture: developing resilient urban food systems” by the RUAF Foundation, provides urban planners, specialists, local policy makers and urban development practitioners with an overview of crucial aspects of urban food systems based on up-to-date review of research results and practical experiences in both developed and developing countries. »
Toward SDG 2: Food security and urbanization in the Global South
Published by CIGI,
This policy brief argues that urban food insecurity is significantly distinct from rural food insecurity and that therefore insecurity in urban areas must be addressed through a different set of policies. It provides policy suggestions for national governments in the Global South on how to improve sustainable, healthy food access in urban areas, and identifies issues that need to be addressed. »
Urbanisation and food insecurity risks: Assessing the role of human development
Published by Oxford Development Studies,
This article elaborates on the linkages between urban growth, food insecurity and levels of human development. It uses statistical modelling to analyse this. So far, there have not been systematic analyses on how urbanisation affects contemporary food insecurity risks or how these potential risks are likely to be mitigated by increases in human development. »
Effect of urban household farming on food security status in Ibadan metropolis, Oyo State, Nigeria
Published by Journal of Agricultural Sciences, Belgrade ,
The study in the Journal of Agricultural Sciences, investigated the effect of urban household farming on food security status in Ibadan metropolis, Oyo State, Nigeria. The study showed that the majority of the urban farming households were not food secure and fell below food security line. The authors recommends the policies that make extension services accessible to urban farmers and also skills development among others. »
Rural–urban linkages
Published by ILEIA and the RUAF Foundation,
This issue (PDF) of Farming Matters and Urban Agriculture Magazine is is a co-production between ILEIA and the RUAF Foundation. The issue looks at some existing experiences with strengthened rural–urban linkages and what they teach us about improving food systems for both consumers and agroecological farmers. »
Food in an urbanised world: The role of city region food systems in resilience and sustainable development
Published by FAO & ISU,
This report by the International Sustainability Unit (ISU) and FAO, aims to provide a synthesis of the current state of knowledge on city region food systems. Its objective is to clarify the on city region food system concept and analyse the proposed benefits of pursuing a city regional approach to food policy and planning. »
Urban agriculture and food security in developing countries: a case study of Eldoret Municipality, Kenya
Published by European Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences,
This article in the European Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, investigates the contribution of Urban Agriculture to the food security of residents of Eldoret Municipality, Kenya with the aim of laying the foundation for future policy formulation for Urban Agriculture in Kenya. In the case of Eldoret Municipality, Urban Agriculture is seen to play important roles, including the provision of better nutrition, poverty alleviation, employment creation and environmental conservation. »
City Region Food Systems
Published by RUAF,
The RUAF Urban Agriculture Magazine No 29 (PDF) on City Region Food Systems addresses the growing attention for policy and practice approaches that focus on food issues from a city-regional perspective, taking into account possible contributions from urban and periurban agriculture and strengthening of urban-rural relations. »
Urbanization and linkages to smallholder farming in sub-Saharan Africa: Implications for food security
Published by Global Food Security Journal,
The article in the Global Food Security Journal reviews evidence on African urbanization trends and consequences of these for the smallholder sector and rural food security. The author highlights that urban growth is less rapid than often assumed and consumption rather than production driven, while liberalized trade regimes have globalized food systems. »
Grow the city: innovations in urban agriculture
Published by The RUAF Foundation,
This issue (PDF) of Urban Agriculture Magazine highlights innovations in urban agriculture and was made in collaboration with GROW the city, a project supported by Oxfam Novib, and coordinated by RUAF Foundation with ETC foundation and Wageningen UR. »
Reframing the debate on urbanisation, rural transformation and food security
Published by IIED,
This briefing by IIED highlights the need to adapt the rural-urban production-based debate on food security narratives: urban dwellers are not all ‘over consumers’; rural communities are not exclusively producers. The authors argue that it must be considered how consumption and urbanisation are transforming rural spaces and economies, food systems and food security. »
Understanding ‘urban youth’ and the challenges they face in Sub-Saharan Africa: unemployment, food insecurity and violent crime
Published by IDS,
This publication (PDF) by IDS reviews how the various definitions of ‘youth’ relate to three dominant discourses about poverty and vulnerability in urbanising Africa: 1) food insecurity; 2) unemployment; and 3) violence/insecurity. The paper’s discussion of common youth definitions seeks to identify if and when these are responsive to the needs of urban youth as well as practical for policy efforts aimed at reducing poverty and vulnerability in urban areas. »
City regions as landscapes for people, food and nature
Published by The Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative,
This publication (PDF) by The Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative is focused on how agriculture provides important and reciprocal benefits to the sustainable development of both rural and urban communities. The paper provides short examples of cities, initiatives and projects from around the world with key lessons learned and good practices. »
Growing greener cities in Latin America and the Caribbean
Published by FAO,
This FAO report (PDF), released at the World Urban Forum 2014, highlights urban and peri-urban agriculture in 10 major cities in Latin America and the Caribbean. The report looks at the progress that has been made toward realizing ‘greener cities’ in which urban and peri-urban agriculture is recognized by public policy and included in urban development strategies and land-use planning. The study is based on the results of a survey in 23 countries and data on 110 cities and municipalities. »
Urban China: toward efficient, inclusive, and sustainable urbanization
Published by Worldbank,
This joint report (PDF) by the World Bank and the Development Research Center of China’s State Council, addresses the challenges and opportunities of urbanization in China and aims to help China forge a new model of urbanization. The report includes six priority areas for a policy reform for urbanization. »
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