Informal food systems and food security in rural and urban East Africa
This IIED briefing (PDF) argues 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. In urban areas, residents of low-income settlements depend heavily on informal food systems that have been traditionally ignored or penalised by governments. Informal value chains and markets play a pivotal role for both the urban and rural poor, but there is a gap between the perception and reality of food safety in local, informal markets. In rural areas, the impacts of climate change are heightening food insecurity and poverty. Rural-urban linkages are reshaping economic and social relations in both rural and urban areas, but need to be managed to ensure low-income producers and consumers benefit from these transformations. The author states that a new narrative is needed that views food security through the lens of consumption of the poor, drawing on research that supports more comprehensive methodologies, community-driven capacity building, greater understanding of rural-urban linkages, a stronger voice for civil society in policy/advocacy, and more effective and inclusive local regulations.