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UNFPA Technical Briefing: Urbanization and food prices

Urbanization is affecting people’s vulnerability to rising food prices, but is not driving these prices upwards. Having a larger share of a population living in urban settlements does not, as sometimes claimed, cause a significant loss of arable land. Nor does it, in itself, increase the demand for food. But urbanization is increasing the share of vulnerable people living in urban areas. Urban vulnerability to increasing food prices differs from rural vulnerability, and demands different policy responses.During price spikes, the most vulnerable urban groups need better access to food.They also need more secure livelihoods and higher incomes to cope with both food price spikes and longer term price increases.

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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