Urbanization and its Implications on Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa

Authors: Tom P Evans, University of Arizona, Zack Guido, University of Arizona, Jordan P Blekking, Indiana University, Cascade Tuholske, University of California, Santa Barbara, Kelly Caylor, University of California, Santa Barbara, Lyndon Estes, Clark University, Abbey Fluckiger*, Univeristy of Arizona, Andrew Zimmer, University of Arizona, Julia Davies, University of Arizona
Topics: food systems, Africa, Urban Geography
Keywords: urbanization, urban food security, Sub-Saharan Africa, food systems
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Over the past 40 years African cities have experienced rapid urbanization, often leaving them with limited institutional capacity to adapt to increased livelihood demands. In many cases, urban food systems have proven inadequate to provide affordable access to healthy food for low income residents. Two key factors contribute to the unique challenges of food security in urban areas. First, urban food acquisition is market dependent, creating a heightened sensitivity to food price shocks. Second, due to a lack of formal employment opportunities, urban areas have a high proportion of individuals reliant on the informal labor sector, which is associated with greater variability in weekly income. As a result, low income urban populations spend a disproportionately large portion of their wages on food.

We describe the patterns and trends in several sub-Saharan Africa cities to determine urbanization’s impacts on urban food systems and how these impacts differ across heterogeneous urban environments. Using household survey data and statistical analysis, we explore the relationship of seasonal trends and social and environmental barriers to urban household food security. We emphasize the need for high frequency temporal data to understand the impacts of urbanization, market prices and seasonal shifts in labor on food systems and food security in urban areas.

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