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Urban population in many developing countries is increasing rapidly. Forecasts estimate between 60 and 85 percent of these countries’ populations will live in cities by 2025. Capital cities are often growing the fastest. Urbanization brings changes in food consumption behaviour, purchasing habits and consumers’ location. As urban expansion increases, the demand for food increases boosting food production. New transport and market infrastructure, facilities and services are needed, while existing ones become unable to cope with larger quantities of food. Food supply and distribution systems to cities are thus likely to face additional constraints as a result of urban expansion. The likely consequences? Already high food access costs may continue to rise, food availability will be even more unstable and food quality and hygiene conditions will further deteriorate.

Escalating urban poverty levels in developing countries and countries in transition have exacerbated the alarming status of food availability and accessibility. Poor urban consumers often reside in the most remote, deprived areas which tend to be neglected by city and local authorities. Their food security requires specific attention.

One key challenge is to improve the efficiency and dynamism of food supply and distribution systems. This should be achieved through effective, concerted and sustainable interventions.

This guide is aimed at administrators, technicians and researchers concerned with the urban food security. It proposes an interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of complex food supply and distribution systems for the identification of their present and expected constraints to select sustainable solutions. It reviews the preparation of a case study and ends with a framework for formulating urban food supply and distribution policies, strategies and programmes.

This guide is a revised edition of the French version published in 1998.

All the "Food into Cities" Collection papers mentioned in this guide are available - free of charge - from the FAO Web site http://WWW.FAO.ORG/AG/SADA.HTM

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