FOOD SECURITY AND NUTRITION
Growing Cities, New Challenges
Marie Ruel, James Garrett, and Sivan Yosef
- Poverty, food insecurity, and malnutrition become increasingly urban problems as urban populations expand everywhere.
- Persistent child undernutrition, stubborn micronutrient deficiencies, and an alarming rise in overweight and obesity in urban areas mark the shift of the burden of malnutrition from rural areas to cities:
- One in three stunted children now lives in an urban area.
- Rapid increases in overweight and obesity have been concentrated in urban areas.
The urban poor face a challenging food environment.
- Food security in the city depends on access to cash. Extremely poor urban households in many developing countries spend more than 50 percent of their budget on food.
- Dependence on purchased food and employment in the informal sector—especially for women—leave the urban poor vulnerable to income and food price shocks.
- Formal and informal safety nets often fail to protect the poorest of the urban poor.
- Limited access to healthcare, safe water, and sanitation in cities leads to severe health and nutrition inequalities for the urban poor—especially slum dwellers.
Policy and Research Needs
- What is the extent of poverty, food insecurity, and malnutrition in urban areas?
- What is the quality of urban diets, what are the nutrient gaps, and what are the dietary patterns that increase health risks?
- What are the effects of the urban food environment on food access and food choices?
- How can we best tailor programs and policies to support the urban poor in tackling the distinct challenges of urban life?