How to promote sustainable urban food systems in intermediate cities in Africa?
Local strategies and policies session at the Africities Summit 9
How to promote sustainable urban food systems in intermediate cities in Africa
Co-organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), United Cities of Local Governments (UCLG) and several organizations including UN-HABITAT, UNEP, RIKOLTO, ICLEI AFRICA, ENDA- ECOPOP, RUAF and CGIAR, the session posed the real challenges related to the nutrition of people living in peri-urban areas which is home to the largest portion of Africa's population.
According to H.E. Dr. James Karanja Nyoro According to H.E. Dr. James Karanja Nyoro, Governor of Kiambu County and Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture at the Board of Governors who opened the session with a resource person from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.According to H.E. Dr. James Karanja Nyoro, Governor of Kiambu County and Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture at the Board of Governors, who opened the session with a resource person from FAO in Kenya, some observers may be surprised that such a session was organized when there are more urgent issues such as infrastructure financing. But on closer inspection, according to the Governor, nutrition is the basis for the well-being of any population. Africa will continue to have the fastest urban growth in the world. As the level of urbanization in Africa and globally increases and 70% of the food produced is consumed by urban dwellers, food systems transformation is increasingly becoming an issue closely linked to urban food systems.
Food sustainability in intermediate cities
How can we make agriculture profitable for the farmer and products cheaper for consumers? The challenge for African peri-urban local governments is to set up sustainable food systems. This system will have to give priority to proximity in order to reduce transport costs and the risk of damage that threaten production far from the cities. In the same way, it will be necessary to solve the problems of industrial pollution and that related to the great traffic in the peri-urban zones which can contaminate the ground and water and thus the agricultural products. One of the solutions envisaged is therefore the promotion of urban and peri-urban agriculture. This diversification of production areas will reduce the cost of nutrition in the budget of vulnerable people who spend nearly 70% of their income on food. But for peri-urban agriculture, it will be necessary to secure the land, which is generally under strong pressure in these areas, much more than in the agricultural regions. Her Excellency Ms. Carla of the FAO in Kenya pleads for a greater role of cities in agriculture with the figures of urbanization of Africa. But this role is not limited to the introduction of peri-urban agriculture in grassroots development plans, but also extends to the quality of meals consumed in intermediate cities. According to her, meals eaten outside the family are often industrial, high in sugar and fat, and therefore a source of illness. Cities need to help improve nutrition in the city. Agriculture must also be seen as a source of employment. Food is important for health, economy and well-being in urban and peri-urban areas. "Through nutrition, we can transform cities," she concluded.
Urban food systems in Africa are plagued by high prevalence of various forms of malnutrition, including overweight and obesity, and high rates of food waste. Unhealthy urban diets combined with poor health systems and unhealthy living conditions create a vicious cycle of poor health and malnutrition. Satisfaction with urban diets is crippled by increasing pressure on our natural resources, while urban populations, especially the poor, are at high risk of malnutrition and diet-related non-communicable diseases.In addition, urban food systems emit more than 20% of planet Earth's greenhouse gases (GHGs), with food loss and waste among the top five contributors.The role of cities and local governments in achieving a sustainable transformation of food systems has therefore been prioritized at the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) convened by the UN Secretary General in September 2021. Within the framework of the UNFSS, the Urban Food Systems Coalition has been established as one of the emerging coalitions, with the aim of promoting coherent action on urban food systems and fostering linkages between urban food systems and the environment.The Urban Food Systems Coalition was created as one of the emerging coalitions, with the aim of promoting coherent action on urban food systems and fostering linkages between national and subnational governments, but also linkages between urban food systems and other systems such as health, social protection, etc., in urban planning. Therefore, it is fundamental that local governments, especially secondary cities, invest in urban food systems to generate commitment and action to transform them.