The urbanization of malnutrition
This article on the Inter Press Service (IPS) discusses how rapid urbanization is shifting the impacts of malnutrition from rural to urban areas. Rural marginal landholders, compelled to abandon their food producing role, migrate to urban centers to join instead the growing millions of consumers. Where once they grew their own food, kept aside for their own needs first and the remainder sold to urban food chains, and reached out to the natural ecosystem in hard times, these farmers are migrating into an economic structure where access to cash alone determines their food security. Although in cities, food is available year-round, a growing number of urban poor face a daily struggle to feed their families. Poor shelter, lack of sanitation and hygiene in slums, and insufficient family and community support further compound the problems of the urban poor. Price fluctuations, sometimes of staples which are increasingly being imported from other parts of the world, hit the poor hardest. Under-nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies are the result. Not only will urban land area triple globally between 2000 to 2030, the projected expansion will take place on some of the world’s most productive croplands. Policies to ensure sustainable urbanization and adequate quantity and quality of food supply include protecting peri-urban agricultural land from conversion, incentivizing farmers in proximity to cities to maximize production, and encouraging urban residents to grow food even on small patches and rooftops.
This article links to the following reports: Global land outlook and The state of food security and nutrition in the world.