Cities have important role to play in food security

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Staff Reporter
Windhoek

Half of the continent’s population is expected to live in cities by 2030, according to a study by UNHabitat.

People in cities have theoretically better access to food than people in rural areas. However, they are often not able to afford enough and healthy food and tend to consume more highly processed and unhealthy food. Africa’s urban policymakers need to tackle hunger, malnutrition, a lack of dietary diversity, increased vulnerability to disease, and a growing obesity epidemic – a great challenge.
Cities have an important role to play in food security and there are a number of opportunities how they can.

Cities should:
• address all the dimensions of food insecurity with a special focus on quality of food;
• engage all food system actors and facilitate processes whereby knowledge, interventions and innovations can be shared. This can include all levels of government, the private sector (for example big supermarket chains), international donors, NGOs, marketing and distribution networks, traders associations, community groups;
• identify and implement the most appropriate governance structures to govern urban food systems. This can be supported by an urban food charter or urban food system principles that inform policy and practice;
• provide direct support for the production, processing and distribution of food;
• use their regulatory power for food sensitive planning such as land use planning, regulating trade and enforcing health regulations to develop an appropriate food system. It is important to integrate informal systems within formal systems. This may require loosening regulations or modifying bylaws to support informal sectors;
• support education and awareness raising about food, nutrition and food production.

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