Mapping the invisible: The informal food economy of Cape Town, South Africa
This report (PDF) from the African Food Security Urban Network (AFSUN) maps the informal food sector and argues that the sector is of significant importance to reach 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. The findings illustrate that the informal and the formal food retail sectors intersect at various points upstream as well as through customer practices and are not isolated from each other. The authors believe therefore that it is essential to view the formal and informal food sectors as part of the same food system and to generate policy and planning responses that acknowledge the role of both sectors in meeting local food security needs. The authors argue that if South Africa’s constitutional right to food is to be achieved, it will be necessary to develop a multi-departmental food system and food security strategy that facilitates the progressive realization of the right of all residents to access sufficient, nutritious, safe and culturally appropriate food. Although the research in this report is focused on Cape Town, South Africa, the findings are of broader relevance.