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In the West African countries it is a matter of vital necessity to develop urban food supply and distribution systems in order to be able to cater for the increasing urban demand and growing urbanization. This development must be incorporated into the structural adjustment and economic stabilization measures, namely, into an environment that is both uncertain and in a state of flux at the present time. While FSDS had to be developed in a plan for society based on total liberalization, resources would certainly be needed, but the debate would be limited in scope, because it would merely involve transposing procedures that are already known. But the challenge is important for other reasons, because it involves designed liberalized FSDS with the main objective of guaranteeing food security to the towns. But are these concepts really contradictory?

In order to analyse this relationship between the development of FSDS and food security we shall firstly draw on the lessons of the past, to qualify the present notion of food security recalling that it is in fact a ‘plural’ concept. Most of the less economically developed countries are liberalizing their economies, but not all of them have decided on the same methods for doing so. These cautionary remarks are designed to show the reader that there is no one single recipe to suit every country. After briefly reviewing the present African urban context and more thoroughly examining the concepts of food security, we shall see where the adjustment and stabilization policies have had repercussions on the constituent elements of food security. We shall then examine a number of options on which governments will have to take decisions in terms of their food supply and distribution policies in order to guarantee urban food security by the year 2020. Lastly, we shall draw up a methodological framework for the implementation of FSDS development policies.

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