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Consuming Urban Poverty Newsletter No. 1: Oct 2015.
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Welcome to Consuming Urban Poverty

Consuming Urban Poverty (Officially: Governing Food Systems to Alleviate Poverty) is a project based at the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town. It is funded by the ESRC-DFIF Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation: Poverty in Urban Spaces stream.


This project aligns itself with Carolyn Steel’s assertion that “In order to understand cities properly, we need to look at them through food” (Steel 2008, 10). It argues that important contributions to debates on urbanization in sub-Saharan Africa, the nature of urban poverty, and the relationship between governance, poverty and the spatial characteristics of cities and towns in the region can be made through a focus on urban food systems and the dynamics of urban food poverty. There is a knowledge gap regarding secondary cities, their characteristics and governance, and yet these are important sites of urbanization in Africa. This project therefore focuses on secondary cities in three countries: Kisumu, Kenya; Kitwe, Zambia; and Epworth, Zimbabwe.

The Consuming Urban Poverty project is led by Prof Vanessa Watson with a core team of UCT-based researchers and partners in our three study sites: Kitwe (Zambia), Kisumu (Kenya) and Epworth (Zimbabwe). Click here for research team details.
Watch this 3 minute clip about the Consuming Urban Poverty project's objectives.
PublicProject Highlights 2014/15:
  • Appointment of multi-disciplinary research team at UCT and in partner cities.
  • Stakeholder meetings in partner cities
  • Submission of a series of papers interrogating methods and approaches to urbanisation, poverty, spatial assessment of urban expansion and food security
  • Development of methodological approaches to assess urban food systems
  • Invitations to present and advise at a series of regional and global events addressing urban food systems, including those run by IIED, FAO, RUAF, IUFN, UNEP, International Sustainability Unit. 
  • Public engagement on issues of urbanisation and food systems (e.g. WWF's Living Planet Conference and the Centre of Excellence in Food Security's Whose Food System is it Anyway event)
  • The project is starting to generate local and regional media coverage. See here
  • Delivered Graduate course in Urban Food Security at the University of Cape Town.
First project stakeholder meeting in Kitwe, Zambia.
The project has three main messages:
1. Not all cities are alike. Therefore, policies and strategies to address urban poverty need to be responsive to the needs of secondary cities, which this project seeks to understand.

2. Seeing the city through food opens up new ways to understand poverty, and its interplay with use of urban space and with governance.

3. Intervening in the food system can have a significant impact on urban poverty. 

Food market in Kisumu. What economic, social and political processes determine the food system in secondary cities in Africa? How does food reach cities? And at what social, economic and environmental costs? How do food and poverty intersect?
This project works across disciplinary boundaries to seek answers to these questions and develop viable, locally-applicable policy recommendations which can be translated across contexts.
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ConsumingUrbanPoverty@gmail.com

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