Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 43

Literature Review TANGO International

Urban Food Security:

Concepts and Issues for Programming in the New Millennium

Prepared by

Andrew Gardner, M.A.

BARA/University of Arizona

September 22, 2000

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Executive Summary


Urbanization in Developing Countries


Urban Food Security


Alleviating Urban Food Security


Understanding Food Security in the Urban Sector


Urban Households


Complex Urban Livelihoods


Urban Women at Work


Food Systems and Markets


Coping with Market-based Vulnerability


Land Use and Land Tenure


Urban Health and Nutrition


Infrastructure and the Social Sector


Social Capital and Social Networks


Urban Agriculture


Programming for the Urban Context




Poverty and Urban Food Security


Program Targeting and the Urban Poor


Programming, Infrastructure, and Institutions


Programming and Social Capital


Social Data and Urban Programming




Executive Summary

The literature review that follows approaches urban food security from a holistic vantage point – the food security of the urban poor is dependent upon a diverse set of social, economic, political, environmental, and cultural variables. After a brief overview of the conceptual foundation of food security and urban poverty, ten aspects of urban food security are discussed. These ten variables, described briefly here, differentiate the urban context from rural areas, and subsequently pose new challenges for food security programming.

First, the structure of urban households differs significantly from those found in the rural sector:

Urban households are highly variable and may include various combinations of kin and non-kin members

While average household size is smaller in the urban context, dependency ratios are often higher

Urban households often include members that spend significant amounts of time in the rural sector – households may be split over the rural-urban divide

The poorest urban dwellers may have no house at all

Second, urban livelihood systems are complex:

Urban livelihood systems often comprise complex amalgamations of formal, informal, urban and rural employment

Employment in the formal sector – traditionally the foundation of most urban livelihood systems – is rapidly diminishing in scope

Conversely, the informal sector is growing rapidly in many developing cities

The informal sector poses a host of problems for food security programming

Third, urban women’s participation in income-generating activities is increasing rapidly

Not only are more women participating in income-generating activities, but their rate of participation is increasing worldwide

Women’s increasing role in both formal and informal sector activities has not diminished their labor obligations in the domestic zone

Some research suggests a correlation between increasing participation in income generating activities and increasing child malnutrition

In general, women’s occupations are less secure than those of men

Women typically face problems in accessing jobs – their ability to participate in the labor market is circumscribed by domestic obligations, cultural norms, land tenure systems, and a variety of other factors

Fourth, food systems and food markets in the urban sector are highly complex

Most food is purchased through the market, making analysis of market structure a key component of urban food security programming

At the same time, rural-to-urban food transfers and urban agriculture play an important role in household food security

Urban food is generally more expensive than food in the rural sector

Smaller food stores are essential to the poorest urban dwellers, but these stores can also be problematic, as food prices are often much higher

Many of the urban poor rely on street vendors for a majority of their caloric intake

High food prices place great burdens on the poorest households

The urban poor are susceptible to market-based fluctuations in price and availability, opening them to new realms of vulnerability

Fifth, urban vulnerability and the coping strategies that accompany it differ from the rural sector:

Much as rural households are susceptible to climatic variability, poor urban households are vulnerable to a variety of market-based fluctuations that are beyond their control

Structural adjustment, as one locus in the political economy of the last decade, pushed the urban poor of many developing cities to conditions of extreme hardship

In addition to structural adjustment, the urban poor are vulnerable to various other forces, including economic sanctions, seasonal variation, and the articulation of the global political economy

Coping strategies of the urban poor are constructed to navigate these complex variables, and many of these strategies are illegal, making research difficult

The strategies by which urban households cope with vulnerability and stress often place the greatest burden on children and adolescents

Household coping strategies are regionally specific – they are highly variable between cities and over time

Sixth, land use and land tenure issues are central in urban livelihoods:

Land use changes rapidly in cities, particularly in the peripheral regions of the urban zone, where many of the poorest families dwell

State apparatuses for managing land tenure are generally ineffective, corrupt, or non-existent

Many civic governments continue to actively oppose informal settlements

Land tenure is highly variable between cities

Seventh, infrastructure and social services are rapidly collapsing in many developing cities:

In the wake of structural adjustment, many civic governments have drastically cut services to the city, including infrastructural construction, maintenance and repair, as well as social services such as price supports, subsidies, education and health services

Poor physical infrastructure lowers the efficiency of all urban activities and often poses significant health risks for the urban poor

Cuts in social services exacerbate the poverty of the poorest urban dwellers – children are withdrawn from school, health problems increase, and a variety of coping strategies are engaged

Eighth, urban health and nutrition represent a difficult and complex series of issues for programming:

Because urban households are dependent upon the labor market for most income, maintaining human health is a key component of nearly all urban livelihoods

Poor infrastructure – and the poor environmental conditions of the poorest neighborhoods – create untold difficulties for the poorest families and households

In general, the urban environment is highly polluted, and the burden of this pollution is unevenly borne by the poorest segment of the urban population

Urban food sources are often problematic – unsafe food sources are a common source of disease

The close proximity of people in the environmentally-poor conditions typical in most developing cities increases the rates of infectious diseases

Nutritional status is more variable in the city, but evidence suggests that the poorest urban households are worse off than their rural counterparts

Urban diets are typically more varied than rural diets: while varied diets can improve micronutritional malnutrition, urban dwellers manifest nutritional problems not typically seen in the rural sector, such as obesity, diabetes, and other conditions

Women in developing cities wean their children at an earlier point in time, and have less time to care for their children in general; statistics suggest, however, that the correlation between these facts and child malnutrition is dubious

Ninth, social networks and social capital comprise the foundation of many urban households’ livelihood and coping strategies. Understanding the scope and role of these social networks is essential to successful programming:

In general, social networks are thought to be more dispersed and difficult to construct in the urban milieu

While some urban social networks mirror those of the rural sector, new forms of social networks – and hence new forms of social capital – are commonplace in the urban sector

These social networks often comprise the most important coping strategy for the poorest urban households

Social networks and social capital can also function as mechanisms of exclusion and oppression – crime syndicates, patron-client relationships, and other networks manifest a variety of negative effects

The poorest urban dwellers may exist outside the scope of social networks, and efforts to strengthen social capital do little to address their needs

Finally, urban agriculture is widely recognized as an increasingly important component of urban livelihoods. Although highly variable between developing cities, assessing the scope of agricultural activities and designing programs to support those efforts hold much promise for improving food security through programming:

Urban agriculture, while important in nearly all developing cities, exhibits a high degree of inter-urban variability; in general, Asian cities have a more formalized and productive urban agricultural sector

In many cities, women play a vital role in agricultural production

Urban agriculture is rarely practiced by new arrivals to the city; navigating urban land tenure systems and aggrandizing start-up resources requires time and commitment

At the household level, urban agricultural production can provide a key source of food as well as income

Urban agricultural production can help households mitigate the impact of seasonal or itinerant, market-based vulnerability

The poorest of the poor often lack access to the land and resources necessary for agricultural production

There are some potential health risks associated with agricultural production in the urban environment, including pollution, waste-stream fertilization, and more

Despite the contributions of urban agriculture to the food security of the urban poor, many civic governments continue to actively dissuade agricultural activity in the city

Together, these ten aspects of urban food security describe the complexity of urban livelihoods, as well as the variability in the conditions of the urban poor between cities. Successful programming must navigate these complexities as best as possible. The final section of this literature review explicitly addresses programming issues in five sections:

Poverty and food security are inextricably bound together in the urban sector. Because the urban poor rely upon the labor market for income, issues of poverty easily translate to food insecurity. This calls for more holistic approaches to dealing with food security in the urban milieu. At the same time, successful urban programming must reinforce the ability of the urban poor to seek and secure employment.

Program targeting in the urban sector is difficult. In general, developing cities are heterogeneous: the poor often are often distributed throughout the city, making geographical targeting problematic. Experience with targeted food programs has been mixed, with a high degree of leakage reported. Perhaps the best opportunities exist in targeting programs towards women and children. Furthermore, targeting must seek to differentiate between the chronic and transitory poor.

Successful programming ought to link with local institutions, build their capacity, and integrate them into regional planning. At the same time, infrastructural improvements to the city itself can drastically improve the livelihoods of the

urban poor. Improving the institutional capacity of land tenure bureaucracies can lead to infrastructural improvements it he poorest neighborhoods, while also fostering social capital of the target population. Small-scale infrastructural improvement programs have been successful in several cities. These programs can provide the basis for larger efforts while improving the institutional capacity of civic managers. Finally, programming can address the communicatory gap between participants in the informal economy and civic government. In general, successful programming ought to simultaneously address issues of infrastructure and institutional capacity.

Because social capital is such an important component in the livelihood strategies of the urban poor, programming must be aware of the social topography of target regions and target populations, while at the same time seek to build upon those networks and capital. Without thorough assessments of social capital, programming can easily fail by working at cross-purposes with local networks and interests. Furthermore, linking programming with local social networks and the capital implicit in those networks can fuel the sustainability of projects and programming.

Finally, urban programming has a fairly short history. Few data are available, best practices are not known, and personnel are not experienced. Programming ought to address these collective needs by injecting data and evaluations into the growing literature on urbanization and urban food security. Similarly, more cross- country comparisons must be undertaken. Finally, short-term programming horizons are often unable to ascertain the underlying problems of urban poverty and urban food security. Long-term relationships between funding agents, NGOs, target populations, and key personnel are an essential component of successful programming for the urban sector.

Urbanization in Developing Countries

Urbanization is perhaps the most dominant demographic process of the last twenty years. In both the developed and less developed world, vast numbers of people have relocated to the city. In the more developed nations, the urban infrastructure has grown to meet this population shift. Sadly, the same cannot be said for most of the less developed nations; the population in most of these cities has doubled again and again without commensurate expansion of infrastructure. Today, then, many of the largest cities in the less developed nations of the world comprise minimal, and often antiquated, infrastructure surrounded by expansive shantytowns with few or no services. These cities grow through the twin processes of migration and natural growth. Migration is often described in terms of both push and pull factors. In the past, the factors that push people from the rural sector to the city were often the focus; in the 1960s and 1970s, urban growth in the developing world was almost entirely attributed to factors such as drought, rural population surplus, misguided agricultural policies, and so on (UN Economic Commission for Africa 1969). At the same time, people began to describe the factors that pulled people from the rural to urban context. Some noted that the extent of formal employment available in the city, supported by centralized federal governments and large public sectors, provided opportunities for individuals to shift from a susbsistence-based livelihood to one at least partially dependent on the cash economy. Others argued that cities were culturally attractive, for the dense and heterogeneous urban environment provided more opportunities for individuals to participate in the increasingly global context of human life. In many cities, natural growth now surpasses migration’s contribution to urban population (Pryer 1988). Together, these processes of migration and natural growth describe the mechanisms by which the cities continue to expand. Descriptions of the quantitative scope of this demographic shift begin almost every article on urbanization. In general terms, the authors of this expanding research topic agree that a vast redistribution of population from the rural to urban sector is underway, and that this process will continue into the foreseeable future (Rakodi 1997; Pinstrup-Anderson 1998; Haddad 1999; Koc 1999; UNPD 2000). In more specific terms, the urban population in developing countries quintupled over the last 30 years (Koc 1999). Nearly all (98%) of the global population growth over the next two decades will occur in developing countries, and the urban population of these countries will double again in roughly the same amount of time (Pinstrup-Anderson 1998). By 2007, the proportion of urban dwellers worldwide will surpass those who make their home in rural areas (UNDP 2000), and within the urban population of developing countries, several case studies reveal that the majority of the urban population is now under 15 years of age (Gebre 1993; Piermay 1997). Some argue that there is preliminary evidence to suggest a slowing of the urban growth rate in the third world (Potts 1997), and others suggest that the growing AIDS epidemic, combined with higher rates of contraceptive use among urban populations, might impact urban growth rates in the developing world (Gordon 1996). Nonetheless, together these facts portray a highly urbanized global future for the developing world.

Urban Food Security

To perhaps state the obvious, the bulk of demographic growth in the coming decades will occur in the countries least equipped to deal with the dramatic increase in population (Mougeot 1999). Data describing the socioeconomic status of these new urbanites are notoriously difficult to come by and often unreliable, as many of the poorer nations in the world are unable to fund accurate and timely censuses (Haddad 1999). In an attempt to address this problem, the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements is attempting to gather and collect city-level demographic data (Rakodi 1997). Despite these hurdles, both case studies and syntheses of demographic data suggest that for most of the developing world, the number of urban households living in poverty will continue to increase over the coming years (Pryer 1988; Bank 1990; Koc 1999; Maxwell 2000) (Haddad 1999). In a publication marking the redirection of efforts toward the urban sector, the World Bank noted that some 25% of the poorest people the developing world were living in cities, and that this figure was expected to double by the year 2000 (Bank 1990). Maxwell recent article notes that while urban poverty levels in the developing world are often lower than rural poverty levels, both population and poverty in the city are increasing at a more rapid rate (Maxwell 2000). Haddad confirms Maxwell’s conclusion through a review of eight developing countries containing two-thirds of the population of the developing world: these data reveal that the absolute number of urban poor, as well as the proportion of urban poor relative to rural poor was increasing for seven of the eight countries in the sample (Haddad 1999). These arguments clearly validate the general contention that the location of the neediest population in the developing world is shifting from the rural sector to the city.

As Maxwell also notes, the concept of food security hardly needs to be defined again (Maxwell 1999). Most definitions stem from the World Bank description provided in the 1980s, and this definition should suffice: food security consists of, “access by all people at all times to sufficient food for an active, healthy life” (Bank 1986). As this definition would suggest, food security is contextually dependent; particularly in the urban environment, food security depends upon a host of other factors. The food security of the urban poor is embedded in the political economy of the city, the social milieu in which they live, the infrastructure and environment of the city itself, the markets in which food is purchased, the labor market from which cash is derived, and countless other factors. The process of embedding food security analysis in contexts of greater scope was already underway in the development efforts of the rural sector (Chambers 1989; Chambers 1992); for the urban sector, these holistic approaches are an absolute necessity because of the complexity of the urban context.

Alleviating Urban Food Insecurity

In the early 1970s, the World Bank began to redirect its efforts to the urban sector, in part because of the Bank president’s insistence on increased lending towards

poverty-oriented priorities (Rakodi 1997). These efforts largely comprised infrastructural improvements to the cities of the developing world, as the World Bank and its subsidiaries continued to operate under the rubric of modernization theory. Surveys of the literature stemming from this period also note a strand of the research devoted to issues of urban nutrition. Aware of the growing scope of the slums and squatter settlements surrounding most large cities of the developing world, this research and the programming it supported sought to focus infrastructural improvements on the urban environment (von Braun 1993). Urban food security, however, was never distinguished as a discrete research issue. Lipton’s now famous treatise on ‘urban bias’ criticized development theory and policy for favoring investment and production in export-oriented sectors. Because these sectors were largely located in the urban centers of the developing world, the bulk of investment and expenditures benefited the urban population at the expense of the rural one (Lipton 1977). The impact of this influential treatise is impossible to quantify, but in its wake, nearly all development monies were redirected to the rural sector, albeit with some notable exceptions in the World Bank and USAID (Rakodi 1997). With this change in the rubric of development, the nascent branch of research concerned with urban poverty and urban food security withered. In Africa and around the world, the rethinking of priorities sparked by Lipton’s treatise contributed to the Structural Adjustment Packages (SAPs) of the following decades (Maxwell 1999; Maxwell 2000). In the 1980s and 1990s, numerous developing nations adopted a series of reforms recommended by the IMF, many of which were specifically configured to deconstruct the perceived privileges of the urban populations of developing nations (Potts 1997). The typical SAP consisted of three identifiable components: provisions to increase the production of tradable commodities for export, to restructure debt, and to streamline the public sector (Rakodi 1997). The last of these masked dramatic change for the cities of developing nations, many of which were the primary location for public sector employment. The impact of the structural adjustment can be summarized in five distinct categories: increases in the costs of food, higher prices for imported foods, growing joblessness in the middle class, lower wages, and reductions in health services (OECD 1995, quoted in Maxwell 2000). Potts further argues that despite the rubric of ‘urban bias’ under which these reforms were launched, the economic conditions of the urban poor and urban middle class in the developing world were already eroding rapidly by the time of their implementation (Potts 1997). In the ensuing reforms, the urban poor faced wage freezes, price decontrols, and the imposition of fees for health care and education, exacerbating the already-impoverished condition of the neediest urban populations (Rakodi 1995). Analysts often refer to the groups most affected by these reforms as the “new poor” (Gebre 1993). Although some contend that urban bias is an ongoing problem (de Haan 2000), the general consensus emerging over the last decade places priority on the issue of urban poverty (Moser 1996; Maxwell 2000). The impetus for the reemergence of urban poverty in the development agenda can be traced back to the 1980s, but several milestones in the following decade clearly mark its new stature in the development discourse. Early in the 1990s, the World Bank revised its agenda, stating its intention to improve urban productivity through infrastructural improvements, to alleviate poverty by increasing

demand for the labor of the urban poor, and improving the environmental conditions of cities (Rakodi 1997). A survey of the reach of urban programming in the 1990s is beyond the reach of this paper; following the World Bank policy revision of the early 1990s, a variety of non- governmental organization and donor agencies shifted their focus, at least in part, to poverty alleviation in the urban sector. Although not a comprehensive list, organizations and agencies with an explicit focus on the urban sector include the World Bank (through programs like the Urban Development Projects, for example), the United Nations (via the United Nations University program entitled Mega-cities and Urban Development, as well as the Urban Development Program), the OECD, USAID, IDRC, UNICEF, ILO, IFPRI, WFP, CARE, Hope Enterprise, Redd Barna, OXFAM, Save the Children, Club du Sahel, and countless others. In 1998, the World Bank alone reported 35 urban projects in preparation for sub-Saharan Africa alone (Farvacque-Vitkovic' 1998); together, the activities of these donors and agencies are emblematic of a shift in the focus of international development. Although nearly every article seems to lament the dearth of literature concerning urbanization in the developing world, this would seem to be an exaggeration. The programming developed through the organizations and agencies listed above produced a fairly diverse and substantial literature (Gilbert 1992). However, several researchers point to the ongoing problems in the content of this research. Haddad notes that the urbanization literature largely omits the topics of urban poverty and urban food security (Haddad 1999). Maxwell further differentiates between the topics of urban food security and urban poverty, and argues that urban food security remains an almost invisible issue to many donors and governmental agencies (Maxwell 1999). Atkinson adds that what literature is available on the topic of urban food security often focuses on epidemiological nutrition and consumption economics (Atkinson 1995). Maxwell also argues that urban food security is often eclipsed by other more pressing urban issues, in part because it’s such a difficult issue to tackle (Maxwell 1999). While rural food insecurity utilizes a seasonal and community-wide framework, the urban environment is more complex, and normally requires analysis at the household level (Maxwell 1999). Programming and methodologies in this context are more demanding, often requiring combinations of social, economic and nutritional analysis (Haddad 1999). Finally, the literature lacks the evaluation and comparison of existing programming and findings, as well as diachronic analyses of urban food security (Rakodi 1997; Haddad


Understanding food security in the urban sector

Malnutrition and food insecurity undermine people’s ability to work, learn, progress, and live fulfilling lives. The complexities of the urban environment, combined with our lack of knowledge of the urban context, make efforts to alleviate food insecurity all the more difficult. The holistic approaches to understanding food insecurity, described above, suggest the need to expand analysis beyond the mere availability of food – the urban poor’s ability to live, work, learn and progress are tied to their food security, and this food security is, in turn, inextricably tied to the multifaceted context in which they live.

To that end, ten variables will help elucidate the context of urban food insecurity. First, urban households are complex and variable amalgamations that differ significantly from their rural counterparts. Second, urban households manifest complex urban livelihoods that combine formal and informal employment, often spanning the rural/urban divide. Third, urban women are an increasingly active force in the labor market, and often play a different role in the household than their rural counterparts. Fourth, the food systems and markets of the developing city are complex and multifaceted systems. Fifth, the complexities of these food systems and markets subject the urban household to a variable set of vulnerabilities, and the strategies for coping with market-based vulnerability differentiate the urban household from its rural counterpart. Sixth, land tenure and land use in the urban context differs significantly from the rural context; the poorest urban households are often handicapped by insecure land tenure. Seventh, life in developing cities poses health risks particular to the urban environment – urban health and nutrition is complicated and heterogeneous. Eighth, the infrastructure and social sector of the developing city provides a context for urban livelihoods; for the poorest urban households, changes in both the material and non-material services provided by the government threaten their food security. Ninth, social capital and social networks, while important mechanisms for mitigating vulnerability and ensuring food security, are of a much different character in the urban context. Fostering these networks is widely viewed as a key component of efforts to improve urban food security. Finally, many poor urban households mitigate food insecurity by producing their own food: our increasing knowledge of the scope of urban agriculture suggests that food produced for consumption and for the market are important contributions to the livelihood systems of the urban poor. In an effort to elucidate the strategies programmers and policy analysts have devised for dealing with the complexities of the urban environment, each section below will explore these variables to some length, drawing on the relevant literature where possible. The final section will summarize programming issues, drawing larger conclusions from the more specific discussions accompanying the descriptions of urban livelihoods and urban food security.

Urban Households

At the foundation of any attempts to build policy and programs to alleviate urban food insecurity is a basic understanding of urban demographics and the households that

comprise it. Research from around the world points to significant differences between rural and urban households, as well as significant interurban differences. In many cities of the developing world, the original immigrants to the cities were single males; only in the 1960s and 1970s did entire families begin to arrive (Potts 1997). While the single-family household is an important component of many cities, other household forms include amalgamations of single male workers, as well as combinations of family units and boarders. There is some evidence to suggest that the gender ratio in urban areas has closed or even reversed. In Addis Ababa, for example, the ratio of men to women changed from 105 men per 100 women to 93 per 100 women between 1961 and the early 1990s (Gebre 1993). Despite the natural growth of cities, and the growing presence of family and family units, the stream of male laborers from the rural sector to the city continues to shape household structure, creating complex amalgamations of boarders, households of multiple single males, and other combinations. Average household size also varies between cities. Extended households are common, and often include children, housewives, other relatives, and may include a variety of income earners. In cities with pressing shortages of housing, household size may increase as a coping mechanism. Dependency ratios are also quite high in the urban context; in Tanzania, a recent survey of urban households found each income earner supporting four non-income earners (Downen 1998). Research also points to the fact that many in the city have no home at all (Haddad 1999) – these individuals may represent the neediest population of the urban environment. In particular, the homeless often consist of abandoned children – the ‘parking boys’ of Nairobi (Obudho 1997) or the ‘sparrows’ of Kinshasa (Piermay 1997). In addition, single male laborers often rent floor space by the night, creating “households” of thirty or forty men sharing space for a fee. Furthermore, the AIDS epidemic has reached untold proportions in many developing cities. The loss of life stemming from this epidemic has also reshaped the household, for as families struggle to cope with the loss of family members, new combinations of individuals bind together as household units. These coping strategies create complex urban amalgamations that challenge the utility of the household as a concept in development and programming efforts.

Even before the shift of attention to the urban context, however, the household was under scrutiny for its utility as the primary unit of analysis. Haddad, for example, noted that variation in the intrahousehold distribution of resources implied a need to at least integrate new approaches into food security analysis and policy formation (Haddad 1994). The types of problems that mandate such a claim are often exacerbated in the urban environment. Gender analysis of the urban household reveals differential distribution of resources (Moser 1996) (Rakodi 1991), and households are often embedded in social networks that confound the compartmentalization of the household as a bounded unit (Rakodi 1991). Some conceptualize these issues as a series of individual strategies, or separate economies within the household unit (Gilbert 1992). Oftentimes, the poorest urban households are split over the rural/urban divide. Recent immigrants to the city often maintain their connections to the rural sector. In a survey of Gweru, Zimbabwe found that some 38% of households maintained rights to some amount of rural, agricultural land, nearly half of the households surveyed had a house in the village of their origin, and nearly half of the remaining participants intended to construct one (Rakodi 1995). A survey in nearby Botswana found that nearly half of

the urban, low-income households kept land or cattle in their home village (Tacoli 2000). Although some households hold this land for future use (Rakodi 1995), many have incorporated rural resources as part of their urban livelihood strategy. This implies a flow of labor to and from the rural sector. Urban households may provide seasonal labor to the rural sector (Tacoli 2000), or they may be split full time between the sectors (Rakodi 1995). These connections to the rural sector are generally perceived as part of a livelihood diversification strategy maintained explicitly for access to food. Moser, in her review of four urban case studies, suggests that the role of these transfers seems to be diminishing (Moser 1996), but Potts review of African remittances suggests that village- to-city food transfers are on the increase (Potts 1997). As Moser also notes, the household often functions as a shock absorber in times of crisis (Moser 1996). Reorganization of the household can help stem the effects of disease, inflation, unemployment, and other shocks to the household. At the same time, however, there are limits to what the household can absorb. The scope of the problems faced by urban households often transcends the ability of the household to cope. Long- term problems, such as the economic collapse following structural adjustment or the widespread loss of family members to AIDS represent such catastrophic change in conditions, and many household are unable to absorb these impacts.

Complex Urban Livelihoods

Urban households often manifest complex livelihoods. In the previous section, it was argued that the rural sector often plays an important role in the urban household’s livelihood system; beyond this connection, however, urban households often manifest complex combinations of livelihoods within the city. This diversification represents a strategy for coping with some of the risks inherent in the market-based economy of the urban sector. Both individuals and households typically participate in a variety of employment sectors within the city. These combinations often span the formal/informal divide, the primary prism by which urban employment is understood (de Haan 2000). Access to the variety of occupations available in the urban environment is often structured by ethnicity, gender and age (de Haan 2000). Gender plays a particularly important role, as formal employment, as well as the training required for it, is often unavailable to women. As a result, women are much more likely to work as petty traders, street food vendors, to sew or knit, plait hair, or work in a variety of other informal occupations that contribute to the household income (Rakodi 1994; Maxwell 2000). Employment in the formal sector is highly variable between cities. As a general rule of thumb, however, the structural adjustment packages adopted by many developing nations both diminished the number of jobs available in the formal sector and cut the wages of those jobs. A recent survey of the employment in sub-Saharan Africa found that employment paying regular wages made up less than 10% of total employment [Rondinelli and Kasarda 1993 in (Ruel 1999)]. Even those with formal sector employment may derive much of their income from informal sources. In an analysis of civil servants in Kinshasa, it was found that only 33.4% of their total income was derived from wages generated in the formal sector (Houyoux et. al, in Piermay, 1997). Although

developing cities may construct policies to sustain the formal sector, lower wages often mean that individuals with secure wage employment are unable to rise above the poverty line, as is the case in Gweru, Zimbabwe (Rakodi 1994). Maintaining employment in the formal sector, despite decreasing wages, often represents a strategic choice for urban households. As many have noted, the formal and informal sector are symbiotic; not only are many informal enterprises dependent upon the wages generated in the formal sector (Rakodi 1994; Obudho 1997), but individuals often keep jobs in the formal sector to maintain access to the wealthy and powerful classes, as well as for the possibility that formal employment might again achieve the prominence of decades past (Potts 1997). Although these positions might monopolize the time of key members of the urban household (Downen 1998), the security formal employment often represents the keystone to the combinations of livelihood strategies that best allow households to weather economic downturns and other crises (Rakodi 1994). In the wake of structural adjustment, attention to the role of the informal sector in the livelihood strategies of the poorest urban households has gained new prominence. In a survey of sub-Saharan Africa, the ILO determined that the informal sector employs some 63% of the total urban labor force, and that this percentage is growing (Rogerson 1997). These occupations are highly variable, and include small-scale vending, scavenging, small-scale and home-based production, domestic service, the provision of transportation, and small-scale trading. Furthermore, the growth of the informal economy includes the sloughing off of traditionally formal employment through independent contractor arrangements and piecework (Rogerson 1997). Women comprise a high proportion of the informal workforce in some cities (Moser 1996; Rogerson 1997). The heavy reliance of the poorest urban households upon the income from the informal sector raises a host of difficulties for food security analysis. Household participation in informal enterprises is often underreported, as Maxwell notes in the results of his analysis of urban households in Accra, and this problem is exacerbated by the short-term or itinerant nature of informal employment (Maxwell 2000). Civic governments, in conjunction with their efforts to quash the informal economies that thrive in many developing cities, commit few resources to measuring its scope (Rakodi 1995). Furthermore, the fact that so much of the poorest households’ income is generated in the informal economy confounds the simple measures preferred by policy experts and donor organizations – in particular, informal and non-wage labor makes calculations of the poverty line difficult (Rakodi 1995). As more information concerning the topography of the informal market is accumulated, it has also been increasingly problematized. Informal employment is often less secure than formal employment, and civic governments of many developing cities are often unfriendly to informal enterprise (Rakodi 1995). More importantly, however, access to informal employment is not always equitable. In the case of Peru, one researcher notes that street-vending – a typical informal occupation – attracts only the skilled and educated (Gilbert 1992). The various skills required by the informal sector, including everything from begging to business management, suggest the concept of an informal economy masks a high degree of variation, as well as varying demands for capital inputs (Gilbert 1992). In addition to access, many of the jobs available in the informal sector are susceptible to seasonal shocks. In the rainy season, for example, commerce between the

rural and urban sector may collapse, and tourism may slow or halt, while flooding may prevent rickshaw drivers from working, and informal markets may close. Drought may similarly affect food vendors and food transportation services. The seasonal aspect of informal labor markets impacts the ability of poor households to generate income; mapping this seasonality is an essential component of program design. Much like the household, the informal economy is also conceptualized as a shock absorber. In times of crisis, and particularly during periods when the formal labor market collapses, the informal economy expands to absorb labor dropped from the formal market. As formal labor markets collapse, however, absorption into the informal economy often occurs at the expense of the poorest urban laborers and entrepreneurs, for collapsing formal labor markets instigate periods of increased competition in which the poorest and most marginal members of the informal market are pushed aside. Oftentimes, this means that women are pushed from the market. Furthermore, wages often drop, pushing household income down, while those more entrenched in the informal market – the middlemen and larger enterprises – benefit from the buyers market.

Urban Women at Work

In the cities of the developing world, women have moved into the workforce. As the previous section noted, many of the jobs available to women are informal, seasonal, or itinerant; nonetheless, a wealth of data suggest that this subset of the urban population is engrossed in a period of rapid change. In the developing world, more urban women are engaged in income-producing activities than at any time in the past. Projections suggest that some 70% of women will be employed in such activities by 2010 (Engle 2000). Moser’s review of four urban neighborhoods confirms this trend. In three of the four cities she describes, the percentage of working women rose dramatically between the late 1970s and early 1990s (Moser 1996). Women provide the main source of income for 20% of the households in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and much of Asia, and the proportion of female- headed households also is on the rise (Moser 1996; Engle 2000). Ruel notes that while women’s participation in the labor force is clearly increasing, this trend exhibits some regional variation (Ruel 1999). Gilbert adds that although these changes are often tied to the economic crises associated with structural adjustment, there is ample evidence to suggest this trend stretches back several decades (Gilbert 1992). Women’s entry into the labor market, whether formal or informal, does not correspond with diminishing household duties. In addition to providing significant portions of the household income, women often provide childcare, gather fuelwood, fetch water, wash clothes, clean the house, and countless other domestic duties (Drescher 1999). Moser found that while women and men spend roughly equal amounts of time engaged in productive activities, women devote an average of eleven additional hours a week to domestic tasks, child rearing, and childbearing (Moser 1996). Others note that although women are increasingly involved in income generating activities, they must continue to maintain the household, and despite these dual roles, have not seen an increase in their power to allocate the money they generate (Beall 1995; Moser 1996; Engle 2000). Furthermore, Rakodi suggests that women’s work is often confined to

activities similar to those performed in the household; in the case of sub-Saharan Africa, he mentions sewing, beer brewing, and prostitution as the informal occupations available to women from the poorest households (Rakodi 1995). In exploring the occupational roles open to women, there is a general consensus that occupations open to women in the urban context are, for the most part, less secure than those of men (de Haan 2000; Engle 2000), and usually are part of the informal economy (Gilbert 1992; Becker 1994). Many of the occupations are gender segregated, and consist of part-time jobs, low-income jobs, home-based jobs, or combinations of these elements (Engle 2000). This is, in part, because they often lack control of household income; the occupations open to women often consist of enterprises with little or no start-up costs (Rakodi 1995). Moser’s survey of four case studies showed that women in the poorest neighborhoods work almost entirely within the informal sector, in positions such as servants, laundresses, street sellers or scavengers (Moser 1996). Their contribution to urban gardens and agricultural activity has been shown to be of vital importance in some regions. Some 50% of women in Lusaka were involved in some way in urban agriculture (Drescher 1999); there is some cultural and regional variation to this however, as urban gardening is almost exclusively a male activity in Havana, Cuba (Moskow 1999). As women move into the workforce, analysis centers on their ability to raise their children in the context of the insecurity and poverty rampant in developing cities. Data suggest that, on average, urban women have fewer children than rural women, a fact partially attributable to greater access to family planning services and higher levels of education (Engle 2000). Nonetheless, raising children in the urban environment presents a unique and difficult set of circumstances for women in poor households. In a recent review of multiple data set, Engle was able to show that a majority of working women with children under five years of age work away from the home (Engle 2000). Maxwell, in his survey of Accra, corroborated these results in concluding that nearly two-thirds of children’s primary caregivers – usually their mother – participate in some other income- generating activity (Maxwell 2000). While the traditional development paradigm suggested that the entry of poor women in the urban labor force posed significant problems for child nutrition, recent work has problematized this causal relationship. More than half of the working women in an Accra sample were still able to look after their children full time (Maxwell 2000), and data from Latin America suggest that mother’s work is positively associated with child nutrition, with the exception of cases where the child is cared for by a preteen (Engle 2000). Ruel notes that there is a strategic structure underpinning women’s work; women often tailor their participation in the labor market to the age of their child, maximizing the amount of time spent at home during the child’s early years of life (Ruel 1999). Women often face another set of difficulties resulting from the cultural structure of rights and access. Urban women may not have equal access to education or training, which often limits their participation in the labor market (Rakodi 1995). Similarly, women’s rights to land – both urban and rural – is often dependent upon their marriage (Rakodi 1995). Mougeot notes that credit facilities often disregard women’s knowledge of agriculture, making it difficult for them to get small loans to build urban garden plots (Mougeot 2000). These systems of unequal access are often culturally or ethnically specific, which further complicates the heterogeneity of the urban context.

Food Systems and Markets

While many of the rural poor remain dependent upon subsistence agriculture, the urban household purchases most of its food through the market. Urban food systems are complex amalgamations of large and small distributors, middlemen, and producers. Households integrate with this system in a variety of ways; efforts to alleviate food insecurity and vulnerability must negotiate the complexities of this system. Urban food is marketed through complex mixtures of traditional and modern systems that span the formal and informal divide. This system as a whole comprises large, western-style hypermarkets and supermarkets, large conglomerations of informal vendors, local corner stores, street vendors, home produced foodstuffs, food transfers from the rural sector, and multiple other components. The impact of the large hypermarkets and supermarkets has been a focus of study. In general, their impact upon local food distribution systems is viewed as detrimental; the arrival of hypermarkets and supermarkets opens local food systems to the forces of the global political economy, overpowers local food sellers, fosters cases of food hoarding, and makes access to food more difficult for many of the poor (Koc 1999). These markets rarely connect with local food production systems (Argenti 2000). While these markets are often quite visible, they largely serve the wealthiest class of urban dwellers, and account for very little of the total food distribution system in most developing cities (Argenti 2000). While many of the smaller informal vendors now face competition from larger western-style markets, small-scale retailers and local markets remain the crucial link in making food available to the poorest families in developing cities (Lourenco-Lindell 1995). While these traditional retail systems – particularly the spontaneous, informal markets commonly found in the developing city – represent a key delivery point in the food system, many are considered unsanitary, unsafe, or overcongested, and are often considered problems by the city government (Argenti 2000). Furthermore, some differentiate between the large, informal markets and local corner stores. While the large markets may have the lowest prices for foodstuffs, these markets are particularly difficult for the poorest urban inhabitants to access, as many of the poorest households are confined to squatter settlements on the periphery of the city. Travel to the central markets involves transportation costs that are often prohibitive; instead, the poor are often relegated to shopping at the local stores, and must bear the cost of the premium charged by these stores (Pryer 1988). Research suggests that the least formal component of the typical urban system may play the largest role for the poorest households. In their fieldwork in Harare, Leybourne and Grant determined that 80% to 90% of the urban population relies upon informal food distribution networks, including rural-to-urban transfers and redistribution through intra-urban transfers (Leybourne 1999). However, Maxwell’s analysis of Accra revealed that 90% of food is purchased with cash, calling into doubt the ubiquitous importance of informal distribution networks, and also suggesting the potential inter- urban variability of food distribution systems. Furthermore, as will be discussed in a section that follows, urban agriculture is a vital component of many households’ livelihood strategies.

Street foods also play a central role in the consumption patterns of the poorest urban households. Recent data suggest that street foods are both a major source of energy intake, a significant food expenditure for urban dwellers, and that the poorer families spend more on street foods than wealthier groups (Ruel 1999). The recent survey from Accra determined that 30% of the calories consumed by participants come from street foods (Maxwell 2000). While street foods are often more expensive than home-prepared food, they often comprise a strategic alternative to home preparation when one factors in preparation time, shopping time, transport and fuel (Ruel 1999). A case study from Thailand suggests that street foods may be of particular importance to small families where the per capita costs of meal preparation are much higher (Ruel 1999). In spite of the varied components of the urban food distribution system, it is widely recognized that food costs more in the city. Analysts approach this conclusion from both a caloric standpoint (von Braun 1993) and a consumption standpoint (Argenti 2000). Argenti notes that urban dwellers pay almost 30% more for their food (Argenti 2000). Mougeot, in a survey of five developing countries, found food prices to be between 10% and 30% higher in the city (Mougeot 1993). The higher price of food in the city is typically attributed to transportation and storage costs. Argenti notes that the cost of transportation is only part of the equation: problems with food handling, food loss, packaging, delays at checkpoints, and collecting food from a large number of small farmers all contribute to the increased costs (Argenti 2000). Together, these factors are symptomatic of the fragmented nature of urban food markets; this fragmentation results in higher food costs in the poorest neighborhoods. High food prices stress the poorest of households. In Gweru, for example, food expenditures typically comprise between 50 and 70% of the total household budget (Rakodi 1995), compared with 70% in Accra (Maxwell 2000), 60 to 89% in a survey of five African cities (Rogerson 1997). The high price of urban food can put traditional foodstuffs beyond the reach of the poorest families, and often affects the food choices poor households make. For example, in a study of Addis Ababa, Gebre found that the poorest families were unable to purchase the ingredients for a traditional dish of meat and butter; for many, this dish is relegated to holidays and special occasions or, in the worst of conditions, to never at all (Gebre 1993). The problems of high food prices are compounded for the poorest households. Because they lack storage facilities, they are often forced to purchase small quantities (von Braun 1993; Argenti 2000; Garrett 2000). Furthermore, their transportation costs are often much higher, particularly those to the large, least expensive markets (von Braun 1993; Koc 1999; Argenti 2000). Like their rural counterparts, the urban poor are subject to fluctuations in the availability of food, as well as the price. Markets may shut down during the rainy season (Frankenberger 2000), particular foodstuffs may become unavailable, and prices may rise. These fluctuations set off the implementation of coping strategies in the poorest households, as a recent study in Tanzania revealed (Downen 1998). In cities dominated by a formal economy, the monthly pay period creates a cycle of economic expansion and contraction; foodsellers increase their stock at these times in order to meet demand (Leybourne 1999). The impact of these fluctuations varies between cities, and in general, is not as severe as those in the rural subsistence economy (von Braun 1993).

Coping with market-based vulnerability

Much like rural subsistence farmers are subject to climatic forces beyond their control, urban households face vulnerability from the complex interaction of regional and global market forces, policy changes, and economic fluctuations. The sources of this vulnerability, as well as the coping strategies devised to deal with it, are in many senses unique to the urban context. Structural adjustment packages adopted by many developing nations are often cited as one of the primary culprits in the increasingly difficult conditions of the urban poor (Gilbert 1992; Rakodi 1995). The first-order impacts of structural adjustment include a restructuring of the formal sector and a concomitant decline in household income (Moser 1996), the loss of many functional safety nets and increases in the costs of basic public services, inflation, the removal of subsidies, an increasingly poor exchange rate, and more (Garrett 2000). For the poorest families, even slight increases in the cost of public services may represent the straw that breaks the camel’s back. In the case study of Gweru, for example, the instigation of school fees resulted in many families facing education expenditures of between 6 and 16% of total household income (Rakodi 1994). The results of the structural adjustment packages placed an unforeseen burden on the urban poor, but also heavily impacted the urban middle class (Gilbert 1992). The source of the economic difficulties can, in many situations, transcend the policies associated with structural adjustment. In Cuba, for example, the combination of the curtailment of Soviet trade, the tightening of the U.S. blockade, and a hurricane that ravaged rural agricultural crops led to period of extreme food shortage (Moskow 1999). Similarly, in Bangladesh, the rainy season coincides with a dip in earnings for most urban dwellers, adding a recurring, seasonal aspect to household vulnerability (CARE/Bangladesh 1998). Furthermore, the commodification of agriculture, combined with the increasingly global system of marketing and distribution, has disconnected local supply from local demand, instead enmeshing the urban poor in a global political economy far beyond their influence (Koc 1999). The rapid pace of these changes suggests that the urban poor are often more susceptible to food insecurity (Downen 1998), and that the problem is likely to worsen in the future (Koc 1999). The coping strategies to which the urban poor resort mirror the complexity and variability of the sources of vulnerability; research provides a complex portrait of strategies combined to mitigate the changing vulnerability faced by the urban poor. And while there appears to be ample case studies discussing the various coping strategies utilized by the urban poor, the problems associated with gathering information about urban coping strategies is compounded by the fact that many strategies utilized by the poor are illegal (Frankenberger 2000). The most frequently observed coping strategies are fairly typical; in times of stress, households make changes in their eating habits. Altering meal composition is usually a first line of defense, and seems a nearly ubiquitous strategy in developing cities across the world (Rakodi 1994; Dufour 1997; Potts 1997). In Gweru, for example, households substituted maize produced and ground in the rural sector for more expensive urban products, including bread, milk, eggs, margarine, tea, sugar and beans (Rakodi 1994). Families often decrease their meat consumption, reduce the portion size of prepared meals, and also decrease the number of meals eaten per day (Rakodi 1994;

Rakodi 1995; Dufour 1997; Potts 1997). In Bissau, over half of the households surveyed ate only a single meal per day (Lourenco-Lindell 1995). Potts also observed that households often shift from warm to cold meals in order to save on preparation time and expenses, and she interprets some dietary changes as strategies to free up women’s time for other income producing activities (Potts 1997). Urban families also reduce clothing expenditures in times of stress. This strategy may include purchasing new clothes less frequently, curtailing purchases of clothes for children, or making clothes at home (Rakodi 1994; Rakodi 1995; Moser 1996). Households also decrease or cease expenditures on improvements to the home (Rakodi 1994); in her survey of four case studies, Moser found these cuts in expenditure to be one of the most significant (Moser 1996). Families also cope with food insecurity by renting out rooms within their house in an attempt to generate additional income (Rakodi 1994). Adults may walk instead of relying on motorized transport, increasing total transportation time while decreasing cash expenditures (Moser 1996). If possible, households rely upon social networks to mitigate the impact of food insecurity; friends, relatives and neighbors may provide assistance, and store credit may be extended (the role of these social networks will be discussed in one of the following sections) (Dufour 1994). Potts also notes that families under stress often shift resources to urban agricultural production (also discussed below)(Potts 1997). As a final strategy, households may abandon the city and return to the rural sector (Potts 1997), but this strategy is effective only if land rights have been maintained, and Rakodi notes that rural land is becoming less and less available as land pressure increases (Rakodi 1994). Children often bear much of the burden in times of household food insecurity. Households may cut allowances for school snacks (Moser 1996), withdraw their children from school altogether (Rakodi 1994), or send them to live relatives or friends in rural areas (Rakodi 1994). Should they remain in the city, their removal from school often presages their entry into the informal workforce. In his case study of Addis Ababa, Gebre noted that this was a common strategy for poor households: children filled the streets, shining shoes, begging, selling lottery tickets, newspapers and countless other items (Gebre 1993). Furthermore, families may limit or end their visits to the local health clinics (Rakodi 1994). Both the youth and the elderly bear the burden of many coping strategies, and are widely recognized as the most vulnerable urban sub-populations. As children are pulled from school to cope with economic stress, they often have little to do and nowhere to go. Without social networks to support and guide their action, children often begin participating in illegal activities and networks, which can increase crime and decrease the social capital of the poorest neighborhoods. Similarly, the elderly are extremely dependent on public safety nets. As these supports are withdrawn, the elderly are unable to afford medicine, have no access to income, and are unable to walk to get water or find transportation. Without social capital and safety nets, the elderly often perish. Finally, Rakodi makes several noteworthy points about the utility of coping strategies as a concept for the analysis of urban households. First, the combinations of strategies utilized by urban households vary within the city and over time (Rakodi 1995). Second, the calculations that underpin the selection of coping strategies may be highly specific to particular cities. In his study of Gweru, for example, he found that because the government rigorously monitors housing and land tenure, there are few informal or

illegal dwellings in the city. As a result, household coping strategies are constructed around the base necessity of maintaining property rights, as the house is at the foundation of all income-generating activities, including renting rooms, home-based production, etc. (Rakodi 1995).

Land Use and Land Tenure

In the cities of the developing world, urban land use and land tenure are complex variables. Most of the urban poor live in sub-standard housing with few or no services, and often in extremely crowded conditions. Poor neighborhoods are also often illegal neighborhoods; squatter settlements surround most developing cities, and some of them are several decades old. Despite the age of some informal settlements, insecure tenure plagues the urban poor. Governments are often fiercely opposed to such settlements, creating a realm of insecurity for the poorest urban dwellers. Furthermore, the slums and squatter settlements on the periphery of the city are caught in the location of rapid change; infrastructural expansion and urban development occur at the expense of these informal settlements, pushing the poorest households aside. In many of the poorest countries, the state maintains the right to grant land ownership. These land distributions systems are widely recognized as problematic. Cumbersome bureaucracy and procedures often result in few parcels being distributed (Farvacque-Vitkovic' 1998). Many of these bureaucratic systems are holdovers from the colonial era, during which many governments played a central role in constructing urban housing (Gilbert 1992). With the budget cuts implemented in the wake of structural adjustment, many governments have scaled back these management efforts, many are unable to provide basic services to new neighborhoods (Gilbert 1992), and most are entirely unable to meet demand. In Kinshasa, for example, Piermay reports that for every 1,100 plots legally established, 11,000 more were created outside the legal land distribution system. Gordon notes that with the minimal resources available to most municipal governments, the inability to provide basic services will probably continue into the foreseeable future (Gordon 1996). Finally, Potts notes that because of the widespread lack of public resources, planned and unplanned urban communities are often indistinguishable (Potts 1997). In some cases, local governments continue to actively oppose informal settlement. In the case of Gweru, Zimbabwe, the government’s success at imposing these policies resulted in a citywide housing crunch that, in turn, resulted in both overcrowding and high rents throughout the city (Rakodi 1995). Although many governments can ill afford the provision of basic services, Pryer notes that withholding such services is also used as a strategy for stifling the growth of informal settlements (Pryer 1988). Urban analysts also note that land distribution systems in developing cities are often rife with inequality and corruption. Although Gilbert claims that landlord-tenant relationships in the developing world do not seem to be exploitative (Gilbert 1992), much of the recent work paints a very different portrait. Legal slums, Pryer notes, are more often than not owned by a small number of absentee landlords (Pryer 1988). This urban elite often secure their position through virtual monopolies on landholdings (Pryer 1988;

Farvacque-Vitkovic' 1998), and their position is supported by a bureaucracy that is often corrupt at all levels (Farvacque-Vitkovic' 1998). Both land tenure and land use are highly variable between cities. Tacoli notes that the periphery of Southeast Asian cities – cities in which the industrial sector is more developed – is composed of small cottage industries, small-scale farming, and a variety of other enterprises (Tacoli 2000). The periphery of most sub-Saharan cities, meanwhile, is mostly agricultural (Tacoli 2000). The proportion of ownership and tenancy is also highly variable: in Addis Ababa, for example, a 1991 survey revealed that a third of all houses were owned, and most of the remainder were rented (Gebre 1993). In Abijan, meanwhile, only 19% of households were owned in a 1988 survey (Dubresson 1997); and in Accra, many families neither own nor rent the homes in which they live (Maxwell


Urban Health and Nutrition

Households in developing cities must negotiate a complex gauntlet of nutritional and health problems. Foremost, the urban poor are largely dependent on the labor market; the household’s physical capital is their primary asset. Maintaining basic levels of health in the complex urban environment, however, is a difficult task. Housing conditions of the urban poor are often substandard, fundamental services are often lacking, pollution levels in the developing city are high, and overcrowding is rampant. Infectious diseases, including AIDS, continue to wreak havoc on the urban populations of the developing world. High food prices, as well as the dietary shift experienced by rural migrants to the city, yield unique nutritional problems. Together, the health and nutrition of the urban poor represent a key facet for food security programming. Data suggest that poverty is a primary cause of malnutrition and disease in the urban context of the developing world. While some differentiate between problems related to poverty and those related to the urban environment (Rossi-Espagnet 1984), it is at the intersection between the two that health and nutritional problems occur (Stephens 2000); often, the poorest families live in the unhealthiest regions of the city. The relationship between poverty and malnutrition, then, often describes the connection between health and nutrition in the urban context. The urban poor often lack access to basic services. The WHO, for example, calculates that less than 20% of the urban poor have access to safe water (Garrett 2000). This fact is corroborated by various case studies; in Nairobi, none of the poorest neighborhoods have an adequate water supply (Obudho 1997), and in a survey of hospitals in Addis Ababa, Gebre noted that 23.5% of all cases of disease were water associated (Gebre 1993). In Lima, Peru, poor water quality resulted in a vast cholera epidemic, affecting 300,000 people and leaving 3300 dead (von Braun 1993). The problem of clean water often transcends the infrastructure provided (or not provided) by the city: in a recent brief, Downen noted that the water sold by vendors is often gathered from unsanitary sources as well (Downen 1998). Sanitary facilities for waste disposal are often overtaxed or non-existent in the poorest urban neighborhoods. This multifaceted problem includes lack of garbage disposal services, inadequate waste transportation infrastructure, and inadequate or non-

existent treatment facilities (Pryer 1988). Untreated sewage is often released into local rivers or streams (Obudho 1997). Some attempts have been made to recycle waste and sewage for use in urban agricultural enterprises, introducing significant risks from multiple pathogens, viruses and parasites contained therein (Furedy 1999). Pollution is an issue for all urban dwellers. However, the impact of pollution, and particularly industrial pollution, is often unevenly borne by the poorest urban households (Ruel 1999). Air pollution is an almost universal facet of urban life. Stephens characterizes the problem as “dirty industrialization,” a problem endemic to developing nations, and part of a global political economy (Stephens 2000) Waste streams in urban areas often include industrial discharge (Furedy 1999); this may severely impact the poorest neighborhoods, which often lack basic sanitary infrastructure or may be reusing waste as part of an urban agricultural strategy. Gilbert notes that these conditions vary between cities; while the poorest cities certainly suffer some effects of “dirty industrialization,” it’s often the more successful cities of the developing world – those with a nascent industrial base – that contain the most severe cases of industrial pollution (Gilbert 1992). Ruel adds that, in addition to poor households often being located near industrial areas, the poor often suffer from indoor air pollution from cooking stoves (Ruel 1999). Pryer adds that the workplaces of the poor are also problematic, for many manifest both dangerous working conditions and high levels of pollution (Pryer 1988). The sources of urban food also present unique health concerns. Urban individuals, as mentioned in the previous section, often rely on street foods as their primary source of nutrition. These foods present nutritional problems, as will be discussed below, but research also points to contaminative problems with some street food sources. Although there is some debate over the subject, street foods are generally though to have a higher level of contamination than other food sources (Ruel 1999). Similarly, fruits and vegetables produced in the urban environment are subject to industrial wastes, particularly in cases where waste is recycled specifically for this purpose (Furedy 1999; Mougeot 2000). Mougeot also notes that the introduction of agrochemicals to the urban agricultural system in many cities results in new concerns over the misuse (Mougeot


Nutrition studies are one of the most developed aspects of the urban food security literature. The conventional argument contends that there is less malnutrition in the developing city when compared to the rural context. In a review of the literature, Atkinson concluded that reports on urban and rural nutrition were evenly divided on the subject, with as many reporting more malnutrition in the city as those reporting less (Atkinson 1993). She further notes that the urban context is highly variable: averages often mask pockets of extreme malnutrition in the poorest urban neighborhoods (Atkinson 1993). In general, urban diets are more varied, tend to be less rich in carbohydrates and fibers, and tend to contain higher proportions of fats, sugars, and meat products (Ruel 1999; Garrett 2000; Popkin 2000). These diets often comprise processed foods, and in general, the urban diet often contains less calories than the rural diet, in part because the urban lifestyle is less labor intensive, as well as because staple foods are often more expensive in the city (von Braun 1993). Staple foodstuffs often change as well. Research in Africa reveals that traditional staples, such as sorghum and millet, are often abandoned by city dwellers in favor of wheat, rice and maize (von Braun 1993). Popkin notes that

this “dietary shift” seems to be more prevalent in Latin America and the Caribbean, yielding another stratum of variability to the equation. The diversity of the urban diet provides a richer array of micronutrients, and this is the basis for most of the claims regarding the superiority of the urban diet. However, Ruel and others interpret this differently: the dietary shift accompanying this diversity yields a host of new nutritional problems, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes and other problems (von Braun 1993; Ruel 1999; Popkin 2000). And while these nutritional problems are highly variable within the city, Ruel notes that unequal intrahousehold distribution of resources often results in nutritional variability within the households: malnutrition and obesity, for example, often occur within the same household (Ruel 1999). In part because women are more frequently employed outside the household in the city, urban women curtail breastfeeding at an earlier point than rural women (Pryer 1988; Garrett 2000). Von Braun agrees with this general point, but adds that the symbolic cachet of bottle-feeding plays a role as well, as urban women often choose to stop breastfeeding for reasons transcending work schedules alone (von Braun 1993). While the multiple responsibilities faced by urban women is generally thought to impinge upon their ability to care for their children’s health (Downen 1998), the data would seem to suggest that, on average, urban children fare better than rural children. Von Braun’s review of data from 33 countries, for example, reveals that the proportion of rural children exhibiting signs of malnutrition is greater in proportion than that of urban areas in almost all of the countries reviewed (von Braun 1993). Haddad’s recent review of the literature provided a more specific portrait of child malnutrition. His review of data revealed that the prevalence of childhood stunting, childhood underweight, and childhood mortality are lower in urban areas (Haddad 1999). However, he is much less certain about childhood wasting and morbidity resulting from infectious disease; the data, he notes, suggest more chronic malnutrition in rural areas, compared with more acute malnutrition in urban areas (Haddad 1999). Similarly, Pryer notes that while urban areas often have a lower average rate of child malnutrition, the rates are found to be much higher in data sets that break out the poorest neighborhoods (Pryer 1988).

Infrastructure and the Social Sector

In the context of dramatic cutbacks in funding, many developing governments are unable to provide basic services to the city. These include infrastructural construction, maintenance and repair, but also public social services, such as price supports, subsidies, education and health services. These changes have exacerbated the condition of many of the poorest urban households. The lack of basic services, as well as decrepit urban infrastructure, places great burdens upon the urban poor. Moser notes, for example, that urban shantytowns and squatter settlements without water cost an untold quantity of daily labor, for household members – primarily women and children – must take hours from their day to fetch water from the nearest source (Gebre 1993; Moser 1996). Many African cities have no services at all: Bangui, for example, lacks the capacity for public highway maintenance or garbage collection, and large parts of Kinshasa have no electricity (Potts 1997). Similarly, the

waste treatment facilities in Addis Ababa are entirely inadequate; people are left to construct their own waste system, which usually results in the use of the street (Gebre 1993). Efforts to improve social services, reinforce existing markets, and foster entrepreneurship are all handicapped by poor urban infrastructure. Similarly, poor infrastructure can exacerbate the poorest households’ problems with health and disease, as described in the previous section. In reaction to the perceived urban bias of earlier policies, many of the structural adjustment packages adopted in the last two decades removed price subsidies for both food and non-food items, as well as for the services mentioned above. Increases in food prices of basic commodities can strain the budgets of the poorest households, leading to shifts in food choice, decreases in overall nutritional intake, and a variety of other coping strategies. The same process results from increases in service costs: Rakodi noted that after electrical costs in Gweru skyrocketed, families resorted to gathering firewood, using paraffin, or recycling combustible refuse for cooking, all of which increasingly taxed the labor base of the poor household (Rakodi 1995). Cuts in social services often create similar results. As education and health costs rise, poor families seek ways to decrease their health and education expenditures. Children may be sent to rural areas for schooling, or households may simply withdraw children from school altogether (Rakodi 1995). In these cases, young girls are often the first to be withdrawn (Rakodi 1995). Similarly, increased health costs may result in families curtailing their use of local clinics and health services; poor families may begin to resort upon traditional medicines and health practices as a result (Rakodi 1995; Downen 1998). Both the decrease in health facility utilization and changes in health practices may exacerbate urban health and nutrition problems.

Social capital and social networks

The role of social capital and the networks in which it thrives has been an important topic of research in both the rural and urban sector. Social networks play a key role in the rural-to-urban transition, in accessing urban resources, in the redistribution of valuable resources within the city, in securing employment and credit, an in assembling political action. At the same time, contemporary research portrays social capital as a nuanced subject – the networks in which social capital exists provide key support to urban livelihoods, but inclusion is mirrored by the exclusion of particular groups and households from the advantages they incur. Despite the close proximity of people in the urban context, social networks are generally thought to be less prevalent in the urban context. As individuals relocate to the city from rural areas, the traditional social networks formed over generations are often lost (Lawson 2000). In rural areas, social networks are often based upon kinship connections and geographical proximity; in the shift to the urban context, however, these networks give way to decentralized and differentiated social networks, in part because of the increased mobility of urban life (Frankenberger 2000). Social networks that transcend the urban-rural divide often play a key role in migration, but the impact of these networks diminishes over time (Meillassoux 1968; Maxwell 2000). Moser notes that these networks can, in the best of situations, be transformed into active urban social networks

(Moser 1996; de Jorio 1997). Finally, Ruel concludes that the scope of urban social networks remains in question (Ruel 1999). Research suggests that urban social networks are more variable than the kinship and residentially-based social networks of the rural sector. These traditional rural networks may persevere in the city, but exist in relation to network communities based upon workplace, clubs, and other activities (Atkinson 1995). Urban social networks may be of ethnic origin (Piermay 1997), or may be built upon membership in a church, more traditional burial societies, or reciprocal relationships in income-sharing groups (Rakodi 1995). Women’s participation and leadership in these groups is much higher in the city, as they often comprise the day-to-day labor necessary to sustain organizations (Moser 1996; de Jorio 1997). Similarly, the home often functions as the center of social relations for both formal and informal networks (Frankenberger 2000). Social networks reinforce the livelihoods of the urban poor in a variety of ways. As noted above, social networks play a key role in enabling migrants to become established in the city. In his study of Gweru, for example, Rakodi found that some 80% of household heads from the poor households came from rural origins, relying on family connections and relatives in order to secure employment in the city (Rakodi 1995). Social networks can also provide an informal mechanism for intrahousehold transfers, often a crucial aspect or urban livelihoods for the poorest families, the unemployed and the elderly (Rakodi 1995; Cox 1998; Maxwell 2000). Communities can use established networks as a political springboard, forming powerful political lobbies for securing infrastructural resources from the city (Moser 1996; de Jorio 1997). Strong community- based organizations can also lower crime rates and vandalism, both of which comprise key inefficiencies of poor urban neighborhoods (Moser 1996). For women, social networks give them access to childcare, and may provide the basis for sharing food preparation duties, sources of credit, and political voice (Moser 1996). Finally, Rakodi notes that social networks can also provide new urbanites with a source of identity in the complex and heterogeneous urban environment (Rakodi 1995). While social networks can and do play an important role in the livelihoods of the urban poor, recent research also points to the negative aspects of social networks and social capital (Waldinger 1995; Portes 1996). In times of economic crisis, the poorest urban households may have little to offer in terms of both money and time; this leads to the withdrawal from reciprocal networks, excluding the poorest households in the time of greatest need (Rakodi 1995; Moser 1996; Frankenberger 2000). Women’s important role in many voluntary organizations is similarly taxed by their increasing participation in the workforce and compounded by their continued domestic duties (Moser 1996). Occupational-based networks, such as those among traders and middlemen, may control access to local markets and agricultural providers, limiting entry into the occupation (Tacoli 2000). In her study of urban Pakistan, Beall noted that social networks often pit the poor against the poor, and that the patron-client relationships typical of many social networks result in systems of inescapable debt for the poorest households (Beall 1995). Finally, Frankenberger notes that syndicates and organized crime qualify as a sort of urban social network, much to the detriment of the urban poor (Frankenberger 2000). Assessing the role of social networks and social capital in the urban context is complex, as households participate in social networks in strategic ways. In general, households seek an array of networks in which to participate; this array may include

work-based networks, voluntary organizations, patron/client relationships, kinship networks, and a host of other networks. Network participation costs the household both money and time. In times of risk, the household circumscribes participation in strategic ways by maintaining investment in those social networks that promise the most benefits. Many of these social networks may only become apparent in times of crisis, making their integration into policy planning all the more difficult. Nonetheless, understanding the process by which households select their participation in networks provides a key aspect of the urban context for policy and programming.

Urban agriculture

Urban agriculture has been the topic of much research and programming in the last decade. Households in the city, despite the gauntlet of difficulties involved, often participate in some form of gardening. While these activities have been ignored or discouraged in the past, the qualitative and quantitative data generated in the last year suggest that urban agriculture is a vital component of many urban livelihood systems, and that the scope of this activity is much larger than previously anticipated. Clearly, many of the poorest households in developing cities depend upon these small agricultural plots for food and income. The most recent estimates suggest 800 million people worldwide are engaged in urban agricultural activity (Mougeot 2000), albeit with some regional variability. Asian cities manifest more sophisticated urban agricultural systems, often to the point of exporting surplus (Mougeot 2000). Agriculture in South American and African cities, while not of the same scope, is still significant: recent studies estimate that 40% of households in African cities participate in agricultural production, while in Latin America the figure is estimated at 50% (Ruel 1999). A variety of case studies support these figures, while also suggesting that the rate of participation is increasing in many cities (Mougeot 1993; Rakodi 1995; Drescher 1999). A high proportion of the urban poor engage in agricultural activities, although lack of access to inputs – land, water, and other vital resources – may prevent the poorest of the poor from engaging in agricultural enterprises (Maxwell 1998; Ruel 1999). Urban agricultural producers often raise animals as well for both consumption and sale (Maxwell 1998; Moskow 1999; Mougeot 2000). Women contribute most of the labor to urban agricultural enterprises, although there is some regional variation to this generalization (Rakodi 1995; Maxwell 1998; Drescher 1999; Mougeot 2000). Finally, while recent immigrants often come from the rural sector, their participation in urban agricultural activities is generally curtailed: most urban farmers have been in the city for some time, have a knowledge of the urban environment, and have secured tenure or otherwise located a parcel of land suitable for agriculture (Mougeot 1993; Mougeot 1999) Household-level analyses reveal that urban agriculture contributes to both household nutrition and household income. Case studies point to some variation in the use of agricultural production. In some developing cities, agricultural production is primarily for household consumption (Rakodi 1995; Moskow 1999), while in other cities production is geared to some degree toward the market (Sommers 1994; Mougeot 2000). In poor urban households, the connection between nutritional security and urban

agriculture has been well established (Mougeot 1993; Maxwell 1998; Ruel 1999). The quantitative significance of agricultural production to urban household food security is variable, but available statistics reinforce its importance: for example, the sale of small livestock comprises 60% of the income in over a quarter of all households in Cairo (Mougeot 2000); urban households in Havana save an average of 40% of their household salary through the sale of agricultural produce (Moskow 1999), while in Dar es Salaam the figure is 37% (Mougeot 1993). In terms of the livelihood strategies of urban households, urban agriculture represents an important component of urban livelihood systems – in conjunction with formal employment, participation in the informal sector, and other activities, home-based food production can help the urban poor weather times of economic stress. Part of the importance of urban agricultural activity has to do with the ability of urban farmers to mitigate some of the itinerant vulnerability of the market-based urban food systems. While prices at the market may soar during the dry season, the urban poor with agricultural plots can weather these fluctuations by depending on their own production (Maxwell 1998; Drescher 1999). These benefits can transcend the producing household, as the sale of urban agriculture strengthens the ability of urban food systems to similarly weather fluctuations in food availability and food price (Smit 1996). In some cases, cities have become self-sufficient in the production of some fruits, vegetables, and poultry (Mougeot 1993). Urban gardens are thought to foster a variety of other benefits as well. Beyond improvements to the food supply, Moskow notes that urban agriculture and urban gardening can contribute to neighborhood beautification, improve neighborhood safety, enhance urban ecology, and allow the urban agriculturalist a sense of control over his or her fate (Moskow 1999). Money generated by the sale of urban produce, or money freed through savings related to food purchases, can provide start-up funds for small businesses and informal enterprises (Mougeot 2000). Larger urban agricultural enterprises often create employment, while smaller gardens and plots may allow gift-giving and meal- sharing, both of which contribute to the social capital of the urban environment (Lourenco-Lindell 1995). Although the positive impact of urban agriculture upon the urban household is increasingly well documented, for decades many city governments have actively discouraged the growth of this sector. Health concerns are often the impetus for such policies; urban gardens are often perceived as the breeding ground for mosquitoes, rodents and other pests, and the close proximity of people, animals, and food is thought to foster contamination and disease (Maxwell 1998; Argenti 2000). The diversion of urban waste streams for such use raises many similar issues, particularly because these waste streams may include industrial wastes, toxins, and other undesirable elements (Furedy 1999). Some crops may be more prone to absorbing pollutants than others, but technical solutions through crop selection require extension services or educational programming, both of which are often beyond the capabilities of civic governments. Inappropriate use of fertilizers, chemicals, and wastes can exacerbate health problems in close urban quarters (Argenti 2000). Furthermore, urban agriculture raises a host of land tenure problems, as urban agriculturalists often make use of parcels to which they have no legal claim. Governments can – and often do – seek to prohibit the circumvention of land distribution bureaucracies, despite their widespread inefficiency.

Anti-agricultural actions are a problem of paramount importance. Supportive governments in Asia have put that region at the forefront of urban agricultural production, and as noted above, many Asian cities have achieved partial self-sufficiency in food production (Mougeot 1993). Similarly, governments in that region have been able to recycle significant portions of the urban waste stream through encouraging such practices (Furedy 1999). In other countries, however, governments continue efforts to stem the growth of urban agriculture, and despite chronic food insecurity problems, support efforts to actively remove agricultural crops, destroy gardens, and prevent related activity (Maxwell 1998; Drescher 1999). At the same time, urban agriculture – even when supported by municipal authorities – is not a panacea for food insecurity and vulnerability. In her analysis of Lusaka, Drescher notes that the poorest households are often unable to engage in agricultural production. Because they live in the most congested areas of the city, few suitable plots are available (Drescher 1999). In more general terms, the poor may be unable to afford basic inputs, including water, fertilizer, and the capital necessary for such enterprises to expand (Mougeot 2000). And because urban agricultural enterprises often occur on land for which the tenure is insecure, capital and time investments are often at risk; urban development and expansion often occurs at the expense of these marginal lands, forcing urban agriculturalists off their garden parcels (Maxwell 2000).

Programming for the Urban Context


A keystone in addressing the future needs of the poor rests on the acceptance of urban growth as an important and defining phenomenon of the new century. Although some debate the rates at which developing cities will grow, the general consensus suggests that cities will grow rapidly for the foreseeable future. Policies and programming, at the most fundamental level, must come to terms with this growth and its scope. Policies that seek to stem the flow of rural migration to the city have proven inadequate and misguided, and often penalize the poorest migrants (Gordon 1996; de Haan 2000). Development efforts in the rural sector, while often beneficial to rural livelihoods, do little to directly address the problems faced by the urban poor (Maxwell


Programming for food security in the urban context must also account for the complexity of the urban context. Cities are complex “cultural mosaics,” comprising a variety of different peoples, with variable demographic characteristics, ethnicity, gendered practices, cultural norms, and class divisions (Koc 1999). Households are highly variable in composition, and often split between the rural and urban sector (Tacoli 2000). In general terms, programming and policy construction must negotiate these complexities for effective delivery, and build upon the unique characteristics of the urban household (Maxwell 2000). More specifically, linking urban programming with rural programming can build upon the complex interrelationship between cities and the rural areas that surround them (Argenti 2000). In addition to the complexities of the target populations, the inherent complexity of the urban context is reflected in the political economy of the developing city, itself a complex amalgamation of local, regional, and global aspects. Urban dwellers commonly purchase food and goods, as well as sell their labor, through markets that connect the local realm to regional and global economic forces; similarly, governance is distributed in a panoply of institutions and locations. These political and economic webs shape household strategies, complicate programming, and enmesh urban food security in a variety of forces extraneous to the production and availability of food itself (Frankenberger 2000).

Poverty and Urban Food Security

Because the urban poor typically purchase food through the market, poverty and food security are inextricably linked in the urban context. Addressing the causes underlying food insecurity, then, implies programming and policy aimed at reinforcing the ability of the urban household to secure stable income. Not only does this fact suggest the need for more holistic and contextualized understandings of food security as a concept, but the rapidly changing patterns of poverty typical to the urban environment also pose significant problems for the implementation of programming and policy (von Braun 1993).

As a result, successful food security programming often addresses income security (Downen 1998; Power 1999; Ruel 1999). Programming that creates or secures employment presents one potential mechanism for combating urban poverty; specifically, programming can identify and support entrepreneurs, match labor with opportunity, and provide security through employment-guarantee schemes (de Haan 2000; Frankenberger 2000). These programs can be favorably accompanied by policies that reduce the regulatory environment under which businesses are created and operate (Maxwell 2000). Conversely, programming designed to address the chronic urban poor, such as public work schemes and nutritional support, as well as targeted education, health and food programs, may address the short term needs of the poorest urban households without confronting the underlying causes of urban poverty and food insecurity (Rakodi 1997). Credit and microfinance schemes are widely heralded as positive contributions to the livelihoods of the urban poor, for they foster entrepreneurship, thereby creating employment, while also providing a mechanism for households to cope with short-term and seasonal food insecurity (von Braun 1993; de Haan 2000; Frankenberger 2000). At the same time, urban malnutrition is inextricably tied to the unhealthy conditions faced by the urban poor. While access to food has been noted as a problem, poverty often masks a series of health-related variables which might not be simply solved by improving income. Because the poor often live in the worst urban conditions, health problems plague their existence – poor water quality can lead to chronic diarrhea and cholera epidemics, open sewers can foster communicable disease, and industrial pollution can exacerbate asthma and bronchitis. Understanding the connection between health and nutrition in the urban context is of vital importance to programmers, and improving income represents only a partial solution in such efforts.

Program Targeting and the Urban Poor

The complexity of the urban environment raises a host of problems for targeting programs and policies. Although some suggest that the urban poor are almost always grouped in geographically identifiable areas of the city (Atkinson 1993), an abundance of recent research would suggest otherwise. Gebre’s study in Addis Ababa found the poor to be distributed throughout the city (Gebre 1993), and a more recent survey in Accra found that both household income and household welfare varied more within the neighborhoods in the study than between them (Maxwell 2000). Variability seems to be the norm; while enclaves of the poorest households are often identifiable, the heterogeneous nature of the urban context has led many to conclude that geographic targeting is of less use in the developing city (Moser 1996; Frankenberger 2000; Maxwell 2000). More specifically, geographical targeting remains integral to programming in some sectors – infrastructural improvements, like new sewers or water delivery systems – are by definition geographical, while programming in other sectors, such as income-generating programs, must address urban heterogeneity by targeting by other means. The overall experience with targeted food programs is also mixed. Leakage, corruption, and ineffective implementation are often cited as problems (von Braun 1993); in a wheat delivery program in Addis Ababa, for example, a monitoring program found that many of the households receiving the supplement were well above the designated income cutoff (Gebre 1993). Rakodi notes that programs designed to reach the newly

unemployed often absorb all the available funds without reaching the poorest urban households (Rakodi 1997), and leakage has also been commonly associated with cash- transfer programs (Ruel 1999). Part of this problem can be overcome by seeking more localized management of programming (Gebre 1993). Furthermore, locating contact points or distribution centers in the poorest urban enclaves – if they can be designated – can go some distance towards improving program targeting. Maxwell has also concluded that household coping strategies provide cost effective food security indicators and targeting strategy; although he documents a slight increase in program leakage, he argues that the increased programming costs implied by this situation are offset by lower implementation costs (Maxwell 1999). At the same time, too much emphasis on targeting can be counterproductive – leakage may be confined to those just above the poverty line, and excluding them may simply push them into the same poverty trap. Community participation often fosters this loose targeting, and may provide a better mechanism for targeting poor households than rigorously established poverty criteria. The growing role of women in the urban labor force has redirecting programming as well. Targeting urban women for program support potentially offers great benefits to the livelihood security of the urban poor, for well-designed programs can increase child nutritional levels, provide more secure income, and increase home-based agricultural production (Drinkwater 1997; Engle 2000). Often these ends are sought through community-based childcare programs (Ruel 1999; Engle 2000). Similarly, child nutrition has been addressed through programming that seeks to change the urban diet. Singapore instigated such changes through a school lunch program (Popkin 2000), while China issued dietary guidelines aimed at improving the quality of the diet for both children and adults (Ruel 1999). Innovative targeting, such as the school lunch program, as well as more generalized programming, as exemplified by the Chinese program, can help navigate the complex variability of the urban environment, and provide a partial solution to the difficulties of targeted programming in that context. Finally, targeting efforts ought to differentiate between the chronic and transitory poor. Chronic poverty and transitory poverty call for different programming horizons; while chronic poverty requires long term planning that addresses structural issues in the political economy of the city, transitory poverty requires short-term programs and policies aimed at preventing the transitory poor from falling into chronic poverty.

Programming, Infrastructure, and Institutions

Improving basic services in developing cities remains at the top of many donor agencies’ agendas. The World Bank, for example, continues to prioritize improvements to roadways, drainage, water supply, sewerage, and household garbage collection (Farvacque-Vitkovic' 1998). While infrastructural improvements are often beyond the scope of many of the smaller NGOs and agencies addressing food security in the developing city, the food security of the urban household is dependent upon the health and sanitation of the urban environment (von Braun 1993), and programming that supports infrastructural improvement can make dramatic improvements in the livelihoods of the urban poor while incurring few disturbances in their livelihood systems (Moser


Although large-scale infrastructural programming is often prohibitively costly, some recent projects have explored local, small-scale infrastructural improvements as a key mechanism for improving the urban environment. In Haiti, for example, communities and the private sector have worked together to create low-tech, low-cost solutions to infrastructural problems (Frankenberger 2000). Similarly, a large-scale sanitation project in Karachi evolved from a small, low-cost sanitation program (Ruel 1999). Local programs that seek to gradually upgrade infrastructure represent low-cost solutions to problems that underlie urban food insecurity (Mougeot 1999). At the same time, infrastructural improvements can actually hurt the poorest households in certain circumstances. Land tenure in developing cities is variable and heterogeneous. Particularly in heterogeneous neighborhoods where poor renters live side by side with middle class owners, infrastructural improvements can push up rents, forcing the poorest households out and benefiting the landlords and owners of the area. High numbers of renters can provide a signal to programmers that infrastructural improvements might yield unforeseen consequences. Food-for-work programs often base food supplements around infrastructural improvements; while these programs can result in the problems described above, they can also result in an assortment of other problems. Without childcare, women often can’t participate. Furthermore, food-for-work programs are finite, and at the end of the program cycle, the poor are often left without support. The best food-for-work programs are linked with other programs that provide childcare and other services, and plan for follow-up programming to address the ongoing needs of the poorest urban households. In addition to infrastructural improvements, capacity building in civic governments can yield important changes in the ability of both governments and non- governmental organizations to deal with food insecurity and poverty. Empowering civic governments can encourage the sustainability of programs and projects (Farvacque- Vitkovic' 1998), improve the quality of projects, and enhance the governments’ ability to document those efforts (Rakodi 1997). More specifically, von Braun notes that improvements to the agricultural extension services offered to the urban poor might quickly provide an improvement to urban food security among the poorest households (von Braun 1993). Similarly, efforts to connect municipal governments with entrepreneurs in the informal economy can lead to better urban planning, less antagonism, and more successful businesses (Maxwell 2000). Establishing communication between municipal governments and street vendors can result in improved sanitation at food stalls and the markets in which they operate (Tinker 1997; Ruel 1999). Increasing communication between city governments and entrepreneurs in the informal economy, by improving the sanitary conditions of food sources and fostering entrepreneurship, can yield important advances in urban food security. At the same time, consultative and participatory efforts to include the urban poor and informal entrepreneurs in urban planning measures produces realistic, long-term goals for developing cities, and foster social capital within the participating contingents. The institutional environment of the developing city, while presenting many opportunities for programming, also manifests a highly charged political environment. Programming must successfully negotiate a complex institutional environment that may include multiple agendas, making collaboration and consensus difficult. The particulars

of this political environment are highly variable; while sharing best practices between projects can provide a general set of strategies for negotiating the political environment of the developing city, an understanding of local institutions and the context of their agendas is a fundamental necessity for successful implementation. Programmers must also recognize that the poorest urban households are often unwanted by the local governments. Under the legal systems of land tenure, many of the poorest urban residents live illegally, and local governments are often reticent to recognize their existence, much less help them. This can result in programs at odds with local civic policy. Program exit strategies must account for this problem, as local and regional governments will often abandon programs established by external agencies and NGOs.

Programming and Social Capital

A clear consensus suggests that social networks and social capital represent important building blocks for improving the condition of the urban poor. At the same time, policy design and alleviation efforts must negotiate the complexities of urban social networks. The topography of urban social networks can be difficult to elicit (Rakodi 1995), and some social networks may remain invisible until times of stress (Frankenberger 1998). Nonetheless, social networks and social capital provide a key mechanism for targeting and delivery of alleviation efforts, as well as a more general strategy for improving the livelihood security of the urban poor. At one level, policy makers and NGOs can improve the infrastructure upon which social networks depend. Frankenberger notes the important role of the home as the spatial epicenter of many social networks (Frankenberger 2000); reinforcing and securing tenure and ownership, described in a previous section, portends improvements in the ability of social networks to exist and thrive. Gebre notes that the spaces created for education and the delivery of food to the poor can serve double-duty in much the same way: these facilities can function as social spaces and meeting grounds for community organizations (Gebre 1993). Furthermore, even small infrastructural projects can provide the seed for the formation of social capital, thereby laying the groundwork for larger future projects. Policies must also avoid disrupting existing social networks. Intrahousehold transfers represent a vital safety net for the poorest urban families (Cox 1998; Maxwell 2000). Cox suggests that policies such as unemployment insurance or social security hold the possibility of weakening these traditional networks to the detriment of the poor urban household (Cox 1998). Conversely, the stabilization of formal incomes, as well as the expansion of credit systems, can build upon existing networks of income transfer (Cox 1998). Policies and programming that focus exclusively on the urban context ignore the continuing importance of rural-urban connections; Tacoli notes that housing policies often stress the nuclear family, thereby disrupting the role of rural-urban connections through extended familial relations (Tacoli 2000). Local organizations often provide a viable template for the administration and delivery of programming. In his analysis of Addis Ababa, for example, Gebre notes that the kibeles – local neighborhood organizations – are an ideal fit for food-for-work programs, particularly because of their ability to distinguish the neediest local households (Gebre 1993). Furthermore, small, localized projects can reinforce community cohesion,

building social capital while also laying the groundwork for larger projects (Frankenberger 2000). At the same time, programming antithetical to social networks can easily fail: the scope and power of urban social networks can either promote or obstruct projects and programming. Understanding the role and importance of social networks is paramount, and because of the itinerant nature of many of these networks, rapid methodologies are often insufficient for ascertaining the existence, much less the function, of many urban social networks. Conversely, the integration of social networks and social capital into programming efforts can be enhanced by the input from local staff and longer-term relationships with the community. Programming must also account for the geographical variability of social networks. While social capital is often robust in the peri-urban regions of cities, it may be almost non-existent in the city center. Successful programming should not assume continuity between various regions of the city, regardless of the apparent similarities in poverty levels. Finally, program design must account for the fact that the poorest of the poor often exist outside urban social networks. These individuals have little to offer in reciprocal social relationships, and in times of stress, often rely solely upon kinship-based networks. This leaves the poorest families excluded and isolated. Efforts to improve social capital will have little impact upon their lives. Programming must account for this fact, and reach out to those on the margins of the social networks in the developing city (Frankenberger 2000).

Social Data and Urban Programming

Although baseline data about the urban poor is cumbersome and difficult to gather, good project design depends upon a better understanding of the urban context. Because the urban poor have only recently become the focus of international development efforts, few data already exist. This problem is compounded by the shrinking budgets of many municipal governments in the developing world, for many are no longer able to gather even rudimentary urban demographic data (Gebre 1993; Rakodi 1997). Good data underlie successful programming (Ruel 1999). In a sense, alleviating poverty and food insecurity in the developing city is a cooperative venture. To that end, methodologies ought to collect secondary data and, combined with any data produced in the course of the project, seek ways to better inject this information into the literature. As a component of project design, better promotion of data and better communication between NGOs and donor agencies working in the urban context can strengthen knowledge of best practices, foster cross-country comparisons, and prevent overlap in programming (Drinkwater 1997; Haddad 1999). These strategies can help overcome the diverse programming agendas at work in the developing city, for it provides a mechanism for NGOs and donor agencies concerned solely with food security to link their goals with those seeking to improve urban infrastructure, health care, or other aspects of the urban context. Finally, programming ought to address the ongoing problem of itinerant development efforts and personnel. Strong leadership and long-term participation are key elements in project success; many projects are hampered by the “walk in and out” nature

of consultative leadership (Mougeot 2000). Maintaining key personnel at both a local and international level is a fundamental aspect of sustainable programming, and promises much success in addressing food security and poverty in the developing city. Long-term relationships and long-term programming can also help surmount ineffective delivery. A variety of situations can put urban households at risk: changes in the political economy of the city, hurricanes or droughts, and structural adjustment packages are of particular note in the developing world. The strategies households utilize in coping with such events may mask much of the initial impact – households may utilize social networks, increase their participation in the informal sector, withdraw children from school, and so on. Over time, however, the long-term impact of shocks to the economy may surface as the capital implicit in these household strategies is absorbed. Long-term programming is necessary to ascertain the lag between economic shocks and impacts to poor households. Conversely, short programming horizons can miss such delayed impacts altogether.


Argenti, O. (2000). Achieving Urban Food and Nutrition Security in the Developing World: Feeding the Cities: Food Supply and Distribution. Washington, IFPRI.

Atkinson, S. J. (1993). “Urban-rural comparisons of nutrition status in the third world.” Food and Nutrition Bulletin 14(4): 337-340.

Atkinson, S. J. (1995). “Approaches and Actors in Urban Food Security in Developing Countries.” Habitat International 19(2): 151 - 163.

Beall, J. (1995). “Social Security and Social Networks Among the Urban Poor in Pakistan.” Habitat International 19(4): 427-445.

Becker, C., A. Jamer and A. Morrison (1994). Beyond Urban Bias in Africa. Portsmouth, NH.

CARE/Bangladesh (1998). Urban Livelihood Security Assessment in Bangladesh, CARE/Bangladesh. 1.

Chambers, Robert and Gordon Conway. (1992). Sustainable Rural Livelihoods: Practical Concepts for the 21st Century. IDS Discussion Paper 296. Brighton, Institute for Development Studies.

Chambers, Robert. (1989). “Vulnerability: how poor people cope.” IDS Bulletin 20(2).

Cox, D. and E. Jimenez. (1998). “Risk Sharing and Private Transfers: What about Urban Households?” Economic Development and Cultural Change: 621-637.

de Haan, A. (2000). Achieving Urban Food and Nutrition Security in the Developing World: Urban Livelihoods and Labor Markets. Washington, IFPRI.

de Jorio, A. (1997). Female Elites, Women's Formal Associations, and Political Practices in Urban Mali. Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois.

Downen, J. (1998). Food Security and Urban Programming. Food Forum. Washington, Food Aid Management.

Drescher, A. W. (1999). Urban Agriculture in the Seasonal Tropics: The Case of Lusaka, Zambia. For Hunger-Proof Cities. M. Koc, Rod MacRae, Luc J. A. Mougeot and Jennifer Welsh. Ottawa, International Development Research Centre: 1-7.

Drinkwater, M. (1997). Urban Programming in Ghana: Exploring Options for CARE and an IFPRI/CARE Collaboration. Accra, CARE: 14.

Dubresson, A. (1997). Abidjan: From the public making of a modern city to urban management of a metropolis. The Urban Challenge in Africa: The Growth and Management of its Large Cities. C. Rakodi. Tokyo, United Nations University Press.

Dufour, D. L., Lisa K. Staten, J. C. Reina and G. B. Spurr (1994). “Anthropometry and Secular Changes in Stature of Urban Colombian Women of Differing Socioeconomic Status.” American Journal of Human Biology 6: 749-760.

Dufour, D. L., Lisa K. Staten, Julio C. Reina and G. B. Spurr (1997). “Living on the Edge: Dietary Strategies of Economically Impoverished Women in Cali, Colombia.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology 102: 5 - 15.

Engle, P. L. (2000). Achieving Urban Food and Nutrition Security in the Developing World. Urban Women: Balancing Work and Childcare. Washington, IFPRI.

Farvacque-Vitkovic', C. and Lucien Godin. (1998). The Future of African Cities:

Challenges and Priorities for Urban Development. Washington D. C., The World Bank.

Frankenberger, T. R., James L. Garrett, Jeanne Downen (2000). Achieving Urban Food and Nutrition Security in the Developing World: Programming for Urban Food and Nutrition Security. Washington, IFPRI.

Frankenberger, T. R. and James L. Garrett. (1998). Getting Connected: Reducing Livelihood Insecurity by Investing in Social Capital (Draft). Atlanta, CARE: 25.

Furedy, C., Virginia Maclaren and Joseph Whitney (1999). Reuse of Waste for Food Production in Asian Cities: Health and Economic Perspectives. For Hunger-Proof Cities. M. Koc, Rod MacRae, Luc J. A. Mougeot and Jennifer Welsh. Ottawa, International Development Research Centre: 1-7.

Garrett, J. L. (2000). Achieving Urban Food and Nutrition Security in the Developing World: Overview. Washington, IFPRI.

Gebre, S. (1993). Urban Poverty and Food Insecurity: The Case of Addis Ababa. Washington D. C., IFPRI.

Gilbert, A. (1992). “Third World Cities: Housing, Infrastructure and Servicing.” Urban Studies 29(3/4): 435-460.

Gordon, A. A. (1996). Population Growth and Urbanization. Understanding Contemporary Africa. A. Gordon and D. Gordon. Boulder, Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Haddad, L. (1994). “Strengthening food policy through intrahousehold analysis.” Food Policy 19(4): 347-356.

Haddad, L., Marie T. Ruel and James L. Garrett (1999). “Are Urban Poverty and Undernutrition Growing? Some Newly Assembled Evidence.” World Development 27(11): 1891-1904.

Houyoux, J., N. Kinavwuidi and O. Okita. 1986. Budgets des menages, Kinshasa, 1986. Departement du Plan-BEAU, Kinshasa

Koc, M., R. MacRae, Luc J. A. Mougeot and Jennifer Welsh (1999). Introduction: Food Security is a Global Concern. For Hunger-Proof Cities. M. Koc, Rod MacRae, Luc J. A. Mougeot and Jennifer Welsh. Ottawa, International Development Research Centre: 1-7.

Koc, M. a. H. K. (1999). From Staple Store to Supermarket: the case of TANSAS in Izmir, Turkey. For Hunger-Proof Cities. M. Koc, Rod MacRae, Luc J. A. Mougeot and Jennifer Welsh. Ottawa, International Development Research Centre: 1-7.

Lawson, C. W., J. Allister McGregor and Douglas K. Saltmarshe (2000). “Surviving and Thriving: Differentiation in a Peri-Urban Community in Northern Albania.” World Development 28(8): 1499-1514.

Leybourne, S. L. and M. Grant. (1999). Bottlenecks in the Informal Food-transportation Network of Harare, Zimbabwe. For Hunger-Proof Cities. M. Koc, Rod MacRae, Luc J. A. Mougeot and Jennifer Welsh. Ottawa, International Development Research Centre: 1-


Lipton, M. (1977). Why Poor People Stay Poor: Urban Bias in World Development. London, Temple Smith.

Lourenco-Lindell, I. (1995). “The informal food economy in a peripheral urban district:

the case of Bandim District, Bissau.” Habitat International 19(2): 195-208.

Maxwell, D., Carol Levin and Joanne Csete (1998). “Does urban agriculture help prevent malnutrition? Evidence from Kampala.” Food Policy 23(5): 411-424.

Maxwell, D., Clement Ahiadeke, Carol Levin, Margaret Armar-Klemesu, Sawudatu Zakariah, Grace Mary Lamptey (1999). “Alternative food-security indicators: revisiting the frequency and severity of 'coping strategies'.” Food Policy 24: 411-429.

Maxwell, D. (1999). Urban Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa. For Hunger-Proof Cities. M. Koc, Rod MacRae, Luc J. A. Mougeot and Jennifer Welsh. Ottawa, International Development Research Centre: 1-7.

Maxwell, D., Carol Levin, Margaret Armar-Klemesu, Marie Ruel, Saul Morris and Clement Ahiadeke (2000). Urban Livelihoods and Food and Nutrition Security in Greater Accra, Ghana. Washington, IFPRI.

Meillassoux, C. (1968). Urbanization of an African community; voluntary associations in Bamako. Seattle,, University of Washington Press.

Moser, C. (1996). Confronting Crisis: A Summary of Household responses to Poverty and Vulnerabilityin Four Poor Urban Communities. Washington, D.C., The World Bank.

Moskow, A. (1999). The Contribution of Urban Agriculture to Gardeners, Their Households, and Surrounding Communities: the Case of Havana, Cuba. For Hunger- Proof Cities. M. Koc, Rod MacRae, Luc J. A. Mougeot and Jennifer Welsh. Ottawa, International Development Research Centre: 1-7.

Mougeot, L. J. A. (1993). Urban Food Self-Reliance: Significance and Prospects. Ottawa, IDRC. Mougeot, L. J. A. (1999). For Self-reliant Cities: Urban Food Production in a Globalizing South. For Hunger-Proof Cities. M. Koc, Rod MacRae, Luc J. A. Mougeot and Jennifer Welsh. Ottawa, International Development Research Centre: 1-7.

Mougeot, L. J. A. (2000). Achieving Urban Food and Nutrition Security in the Developing World: The Hidden Significance of Urban Agriculture. Washington, IFPRI.

Obudho, R. A. (1997). Nairobi: National capital and regional hub. The Urban Challenge in Africa: The Growth and Management of its Large Cities. C. Rakodi. Tokyo, United Nations University Press.

OECD (1995). West African long-term perspectives study. Paris, OECD/Club du Sahel. Piermay, J.-L. (1997). Kinshasa: A reprieved mega-city? The Urban Challenge in Africa:

The Growth and Management of its Large Cities. C. Rakodi. Tokyo, United Nations University Press.

Pinstrup-Anderson, P. and R. Pandya-Lorch. (1998). “Food Security and sustainable use of natural resources: a 2020 Vision.” Ecological Economics 26: 1-10.

Popkin, B. M. (2000). Achieving Urban Food and Nutrition Security in the Developing World: Urbanization and the Nutritional Transition. Washington, IFPRI.

Portes, A. and P. Landolt. (1996). “The Downside of Social Capital.” The American Prospect 26(May-June 1996).

Potts, D. (1997). Urban lives: Adopting new strategies and adapting rural links. The Urban Challenge in Africa: The Growth and Management of its Large Cities. C. Rakodi. Tokyo, United Nations University Press.

Power, E. M. (1999). Combining Social Justice and Sustainability for Food Security. For Hunger-Proof Cities. M. Koc, Rod MacRae, Luc J. A. Mougeot and Jennifer Welsh. Ottawa, International Development Research Centre: 1-7.

Pryer, J. and N. Cook. (1988). Cities of Hunger: urban malnutrition in developing countries. Oxford, Oxfam.

Rakodi, C. (1991). “Women's work or household strategies?” Department, City and Regional Planning 3(2): 39-45.

Rakodi, C. (1994). “Urban Poverty in Zimbabwe: Post-Independence Efforts, Household Strategies and the Short-Term Impact of Structural Adjustment.” Journal of International Development 6(5): 655-663.

Rakodi, C. (1995). “The household strategies of the urban poor: coping with poverty and recession in Gweru, Zimbabwe.” Habitat International 19(4): 447-471.

Rakodi, C. (1995). “Poverty lines or household strategies? A review of conceptual issues in the study of urban poverty.” Habitat International 19(4): 407-426.

Rakodi, C. (1997). Global forces, urban change, and urban management in Africa. The Urban Challenge in Africa: The Growth and Management of its Large Cities. C. Rakodi. Tokyo, United Nations University Press.

Rakodi, C. (1997). Introduction. The Urban Challenge in Africa: The Growth and Management of its Large Cities. C. Rakodi. Tokyo, United Nations University Press.

Rogerson, C. M. (1997). Globalization or informalization? African urban economies in the 1990s. The Urban Challenge in Africa: The Growth and Management of its Large Cities. C. Rakodi. Tokyo, United Nations University Press.

Rossi-Espagnet, A. (1984). Primary health care in urban areas: Reaching the urban poor in developing countries. Geneva, WHO.

Ruel, M. T., Lawrence Haddad and James Garrett (1999). “Some Urban Facts of Life:

Implications for Research and Policy.” World Development 27(11): 1917-1938.

Smit, J. (1996). Urban Agriculture, progress and prospect: 1997-2005. Ottawa, International Development Research Centre.

Sommers, P. a. J. S. (1994). Promoting Urban Agriculture: A Strategy Framework for Planners in North America, Europe, and Asia. Washington D. C., The Urban Agriculture Network.

Stephens, C. (2000). Achieving Urban Food and Nutrition Security in the Developing World: Threats to Urban Health. Washington, IFPRI.

Tacoli, C. (2000). Achieving Urban Food and Nutrition Security in the Developing World: Rural-Urban Interdependence. Washington, IFPRI.

Tinker, I. (1997). Street Foods: Urban Food and Employment in Developing Countries. New York, Oxford University Press.

UNDP (2000). World Urbanization Prospects: The 1999 Revision. New York, United Nations.

UN Economic Commission for Africa. (1969). Size and Growth of Urban Population in Africa. the City in Newly Developing Countries: Readings on Urbanism and Urbanization. G. Breese. Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice-Hall, Inc.

von Braun, J., John McComb, Ben K. Fred-Mensah and Rajul Pandya-Lorch (1993). Urban Food Insecurity and Malnutrition in Developing Countries: Trends, Policies, and Research Implications. Washington, D. C., IFPRI.

Waldinger, R. (1995). “The 'Other Side' of Embeddedness: A Case Study of the Interplay of Economy and Ethnicity.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 18(3): 555-580.

World Bank. (1986). Poverty and Hunger: Issues and Options for Food Security in Developing Countries. Washington D.C., World Bank.

World Bank. (1990). Structural Adjustment and sustainable growth: the urban agenda for the 1990s. Washington, D.C., World Bank.