Exploring food system transformations in rapidly changing African cities

Main applicant from the Netherlands: Peter Verburg (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)


Food insecurity and malnutrition, once restricted mainly to rural areas, are spreading rapidly in Africa’s expanding cities. Conventional productionbased responses from the agricultural sector will not ensure nutrition security in these cities, without also considering drivers that affect food access, affordability and stability. A much more systemic perspective of city food systems is needed, from sustainable production through to consumption, and understanding functional cross-scale linkages along this pathway. Appropriate city planning and policy can play a major role in this endeavour, driving more sustainable and resilient food systems across the urban, peri-urban and rural food landscape. Yet food systems and nutrition security are distinctly lacking in most African city planning and policy. To address this gap, this project aims to promote sustainable and nutrition-secure city food systems by developing knowledge and tools for local and national development planning. The project focuses on two African cities (Kampala and Cape Town), and is built around four objectives: knowledge co-production and participatory planning, characterising city food systems, modelling current food system dynamics and exploring alternative futures, and collaborative planning. The project has a strong conceptual foundation in food systems analysis and modelling. It employs a range of scientific methodologies such as spatial analysis, systems-dynamics and value-chain modelling, trade-offs in bundles of ecosystem services, integrated social, economic and ecological assessment, scenario planning, and transformative pathways analysis. Importantly, the technical science is embedded in a knowledge co-production and participatory planning process to promote uptake of the information by end users and scale impact of the science. We view this social process as a scientific effort in itself, which will be critically evaluated to distil its merits and learnings.


Project number

W 09.03.106

Team members

Dr. J.L. Nel

Link to home page LEAP-Agri