Rapidly urbanizing food environments in Africa: Policies for achieving food and nutrition security

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This post first appeared on the Agricultural & Food Policy blog.

Increasing urbanization is transforming the eating habits of the African population: city dwellers are eating fewer fruits and vegetables. New strategies are needed to combat malnutrition and its consequences.

Food environments in Africa are changing rapidly due to urbanization spurred by economic growth, population increase, and rural-urban migration. This change poses a challenge to food and nutrition security in urban areas and African megacities such as Accra, Kinshasa, Lagos, and Nairobi, as consumers are increasingly demanding convenient processed food. With the wave of supermarket revolution, the urban food environments are responding by supplying affordable ultra-processed foods. The consequence is the triple burden of malnutrition with rising incidences of obesity, undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies – leading to nutrition-related diseases.

A recent study examined the availability, accessibility, and affordability of the food environment in three urban Ghanaian cities, as well as the extent to which foods are processed. The findings point toward serious potential population health implications. The study presents an array of policy instruments for achieving food and nutrition security in urban areas.

Read the entire blog at Agricultural & Food Policy

Jonathan Mockshell is an Agricultural Economist with The Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

Photo credit: © IMF Photo/Kim Haughton

This work is part of the CGIAR Research Initiatives on National Policies and Strategies (NPS). CGIAR launched NPS with national and international partners to build policy coherence, respond to policy demands and crises, and integrate policy tools at national and subnational levels in countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. CGIAR centers participating in NPS are The Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (Alliance Bioversity-CIAT), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Water Management Institute (IWMI), International Potato Center (CIP), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and WorldFish. We would like to thank all funders who supported this research through their contributions to the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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