The impact of urbanisation on food systems in West and East Africa
This policy report (PDF) by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency provides insights into the current and projected dynamics of urbanisation and food systems in West and East Africa and assesses the potential impacts on rural livelihoods. The increasing urbanisation in sub-Saharan Africa is an important driver of change in the production, trade, processing and consumption of food. The holistic approach in this study includes analysis of potential social, economic and environmental impacts of urbanisation on food systems and rural livelihoods, providing a novel overview of possible developments and corresponding opportunities. Urbanisation does not affect food systems in a vacuum. Towards 2050, African food systems face four key challenges: providing sufficient food, now and in the future; ensuring healthy and affordable diets; making sure that agricultural production becomes m0re environmentally sustainable and resilient to environmental shocks; raising farmer incomes and creating more off-farm employment in dominantly agricultural economies. The most important changes that urbanisation causes in food systems are rising food demand and changing food preferences. The increase in the consumption of processed foods in West and East Africa has not yet benefited the regional processing industry. Urbanisation also affects rural livelihoods in several ways, such as by rural-urban migration can contribute to networks, shorter distances to cities can imporve acces to information, a diversified agricultural production response, and it has an impact on water and soil quality. The authors provide three recommendations to stimulate the potential positive impacts of urbanisation on rural development: 1) Contribute to disperse urbanisation and secondary cities in both development projects and local and foreign investment; 2) Strengthen rural-urban linkages as part of development projects and foreign investments; 3) Strengthen efforts to reduce inequalities between and with rural and urban areas.