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Why small towns matter: urbanisation, rural transformations and food security

Cecilia Tacoli

Briefing, 4 pages

The multiple and complex interconnections between rural and urban spaces, people and enterprises and how these affect poverty and food insecurity are all too often overlooked. Small towns are an important but often neglected element of rural landscapes and food systems. They perform several essential functions, from market nodes for food producers and processors to providers of services, goods and non-farm employment to their own population and that of their surrounding rural region. They are also home to about half the world’s urban population and are projected to absorb much of its growth in the next decades. Such is their importance that they cannot and should no longer be ignored by policies concerned with poverty reduction, and food and nutrition security.

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Urbanisation drives profound transformations in rural areas and in food systems, presenting both challenges and opportunities for poverty reduction, rural development and food security. Policies at the local, national, regional and global scales are of critical importance in shaping rural-urban linkages and the political economy of food systems.

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Urbanisation, rural-urban transformations and food systems