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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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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