Hungry Cities: Urban Food Security in Southern Africa

Funded generously provided by:

Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)

Meet the project team:

Bruce Frayne

​Stephanie Scott

Simron Singh

The project is a collaborative partnership between Southern African and Canadian universities, civil society, business and governments (details are available at the AFSUN Website)


Rapid urbanization and increasing urban poverty are shifting the historical locus of food insecurity from the rural areas to the cities of Africa. Project data from the African Food Security Urban Network (AFSUN) baseline survey carried out in 11 cities in nine southern African countries in 2008–2009 demonstrates the existence of extremely high levels of urban food insecurity. The lack of access to food is primarily the result of household poverty, high unemployment, and limited income-generating opportunities rather than any absolute food shortages. The research also shows the growing importance of supermarkets, and the relative insignificance of urban agriculture in the food sourcing strategies of the urban poor.

All research is planned and implemented collaboratively by ASFSUN partners.  As well as fostering regional and international co-operation, this ensures that a regional picture of urban food security begins to emerge and also allows for cross-city comparisons.

Project activities and outputs:

The results of this applied research is disseminated through policy working papers and other publications and reports, community radio programming, policy workshops and conferences, and the AFSUN website.

AFSUN (African Food Security Urban Network)

Three key publications:

1. Crush, J., B. Frayne and W. Pendleton. 2012. The Crisis of Food Insecurity in Southern African Cities. Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition. 7:271–292.

2. Crush, J. and B. Frayne. 2011. Urban Food Insecurity and the New International Food Security Agenda. Development Southern Africa. 28(4): 527-544.

3. Frayne, B. 2010. Pathways of Food: Migration and Food Security in Southern African Cities. International Development Planning Review. 32(3-4): 291-310. (PDF)

 Dr. Bruce Frayne welcomes inquiries about this project from interested prospective students, researchers, or media.