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Informal food systems and food security in rural and urban East Africa

Urbanisation is reshaping the landscape of East Africa. By 2050, the proportion of urban residents in East Africa will increase from 25 to 44 per cent. This dramatic shift is transforming relations between rural and urban areas, particularly as they relate to food security. In urban areas, residents of low-income settlements depend heavily on informal food systems that have been traditionally ignored or penalised by governments. In rural areas, the impacts of climate change are heightening food insecurity and poverty. An emerging narrative views food security through the eyes of low-income
consumers in both rural and urban areas. It seeks to value the role played by informal actors in the food system, and to give a greater voice to the poor wherever they live.

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Low and irregular incomes are the root cause of urban food insecurity, but inadequate housing and basic infrastructure and limited access to services contribute to levels of malnutrition and food insecurity that are often as high if not higher than in rural areas.

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Urban food security and consumption