For Hunger-Proof Cities: Sustainable Urban Food Systems

For Hunger-Proof Cities: Sustainable Urban Food Systems

For Hunger-Proof Cities: Sustainable Urban Food Systems

For Hunger-Proof Cities: Sustainable Urban Food Systems


The 20th century witnessed a massive growth in urban populations. In 1990, one-third of the world's people lived in cities of one million or more. As a result, hunger and malnutrition are on the increase worldwide, as the global food system fails to satisfy the growing demand of the urban consumer.

For Hunger-Proof Cities is the first book to fully examine food security from an urban perspective. It examines existing local food systems and ways to improve the availability and accessibility of food for city dwellers. It looks at methods to improve community-supported agriculture and cooperation between urban and rural populations. It explores what existing marketing and distribution structures can do to improve accessibility and what the emerging forms of food-distribution systems are, and how they can contribute to alleviating hunger in the cities. Finally, the book discusses the underlying structures that create poverty and inequality and examines the role of emergency food systems, such as food banks. A French version will be available in 1999.


For Self-reliant Cities:
Urban Food Production
in a Globalizing South

Luc J.A. Mougeot

Globalization over the last 30 years has been pressing national economies to become more interdependent. However, a view emerging from major sectors of the development community and from this book, in particular, is that the reinstatement of a proper measure of food self-reliance is urgently needed. Today, most developing countries are net food importers, and their dependence on imports is growing. Combined with persistent constraints, from fiscal to physical, this dependence results in food insecurity for large sectors of the population, particularly the urban poor (Singer 1997).

A growing number of countries have seen a resurgence of urban food production, and this has made urban food suppliers more self-reliant and urban households less food insecure. This reality is now recognized by more governments and development agencies. As a consequence, urban food production is likely to be promoted and managed in a better way over the next decades. However, recent international studies point to information gaps that must be addressed so that urban food production for consumption and for trade can be more timely and suitably phased into comprehensive urban and agricultural policies for the 21st century. This paper reviews these studies and identifies issues for development research and training support.

Globalization and urbanization

“Capitalism … thrives on the construction of difference” (AlSayyad 1997, p. 211). Perhaps as never before, the struggle between advocates of interdependent specialization and advocates of self-reliant diversity has grown intense, even volatile. After decades of rapid advances in national welfare, more states and people now see their assets and prospects for social equity, economic resilience, and environmental integrity either threatened or eroded. Global interventions in national finances and international trade can help to trigger corrections needed in specific cases, but forms of targeting and processes that are insensitive to local settings have done little to improve the conditions for human development, if they have not made them worse (see, for example, the review of structural-adjustment programs [SAPs] in sub-Saharan Africa by Brandt

Simai (1994, p. 283) defines globalization as “the entirety of such universal processes as technological transformation; interdependence caused by mass communications; trade and capital flows; homogenization and standardization of production and consumption; the predominance of the world market in trade, investment and other corporate transactions; special and institutional integration of markets; and growing identity or similarity of economic regulations, institutions, and policies.”

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