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19 April 2018

African cities tackle food and nutrition security challenges

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Meeting discusses threats brought about by rapid urbanization

18 April 2018, Durban – More than half of Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) population could be living in urban areas by 2050 posing huge challenges for poor towns and cities, which already face challenges such as poverty and inequalities. These are coupled with growing levels of food insecurity and malnutrition in a context of high vulnerability to climate change.

In preparation for the challenges attendant to rapid urbanization, some SSA local authorities have started implementing initiatives that improve food security and nutrition through ‘city to city’ collaboration and South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC). These initiatives will see all actors in the food chain, including, consumers, producers, processors, traders and retailers, acquiring new skills and opportunities through the innovative exchanges and projects.

Nine cities are gathered here at The South and East African City-to-City (CtCi) Food Systems meeting, which started today. The nine cities, from Namibia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia and the host country, South Africa are discussing how they would guarantee durable food systems that ensure a healthy and nutritious diet for all, while making a sustainable use of natural resources in light of the added pressure of increased food demand.

“Urban food systems strategies have the potential to amplify national and international efforts towards sustainability and facilitate a more integrated approach to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said Fawzia Peer, Deputy Mayor eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality.

FAO Representative, Lewis Hove, said as a result of rapid urbanization, cities increasingly impact food production, processing, distribution, preparation and disposal. As such, Hove added, the policy interventions and planning processes related to the development of cities can create opportunities to better-feed cities.

“Urban food issues have become a critical dimension of an integrated urban rural development. As half of the world’s population resides within or in proximity to small cities and towns, we are witnessing cities exerting a progressive pressure on natural resources like water and energy. It is imperative that city governments rethink the way they plan, function, provide services and respond to the needs of their citizens and the planet, now and in the future”, said Hove.

Hove added saying that the dichotomy between rural urban areas no longer exist as they are connected through a strong rural urban continuum. “Only when food systems are connected, do they become sustainable and a tool to end poverty and hunger,” added Hove.

Peer to peer learning vital

Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) Director for Africa, Kobie Brand, added: “This is why fora like the city to city forum are crucial, they are based on the premise that peer-to-peer learning and reflection is a valuable strategy to show cities what is possible in similar contexts, with similar socio-economic, agricultural and political challenges. We welcome this partnership on the CtCi Food Systems Forum, as resilient food systems are an integral part of the journey that cities and city-regions must take towards improved sustainability and resilience.”

The Forum stressed the importance of fostering collaboration among cities in Africa to make urbanization a more sustainable process through which they leverage economic, political, social and cultural opportunities across the urban-rural spectrum.

The city-to-city urban food system forum is a collaboration between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the Resource Centre on Urban Agriculture and Food Security Foundation (RUAF), C40 and the eThekwini Municipality, which is hosting the event.

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