Seminar participants acknowledged that rapid urban growth in most Asian cities is being accompanied by an increase in both the number and the proportion of poor households living close to or below the poverty line. Participants recognised that food insecurity is increasingly becoming an urban problem and that specific policies and programmes should be undertaken to improve the food security and nutritional well-being of urban populations, and particularly the poor. The establishment of an efficient food supply and distribution system (FSDS) that provides an adequate supply of good quality and safe foods, is affordable and accessible to all urban consumers and reduces or eliminates food-related health and environmental problems was considered key to improving food security in Asian cities. An adequate FSDS requires sound policies and strategies and development programmes spanning urban, periurban and rural sectors. These policies and programmes should be formulated in close collaboration with all concerned public and private stakeholders.
An adequate supply of good quality, safe foods must be made available and affordable to all urban consumers, including the poor and disadvantaged. The food supply to urban populations must be adequate in quantity, quality and variety to meet nutritional needs.
Work toward building awareness of the importance of FSD issues was considered essential among all levels of government and stakeholders. Information, sensitization and training play a significant role in furthering the ability to feed Asian cities.
Specific, relevant information on all aspects of providing an adequate food supply to urban populations is seriously lacking. Such information is fundamental for sound policy and planning development and for effective programme design and implementation. In addition, there is insufficient dissemination and exchange of existing information and knowledge among key players in the food supply system and the broad public. Wide access to complete and consistent information will greatly enhance and facilitate efforts to improve urban food security.
Information is particularly lacking in the following areas:
Effective coordination for timely action and effective planning is significantly hampered by the involvement of many departments and various levels of government in many issues related to production, transport, processing, storage and distribution.
Environment and food safety issues throughout the food production to consumption chain require adequate attention so as to ensure an appropriate level of consumer health and environmental protection. Emphasis should be placed on preventative food safety management and the provision of training on issues relevant to food safety. Appropriate food quality and safety standards, codes of practice and other guidelines should be established to assist industry to achieve food safety goals. The required technical and administrative food control infrastructure should be developed to enable authorities to ensure compliance with regulations by industry.
Waste management and related environmental impacts are key issues for food production, processing and distribution. Negative effects of the rapid expansion of cities can include contamination of soil and water leading to food safety problems. It can also lead to deterioration of the surroundings of processing facilities and market places as well as degradation of living circumstances from noise and air pollution. Any attempt to improve the efficiency of the food supply should be made simultaneously with plans for waste management.
Improvement of infrastructure is needed for transportation, water supply, storage, processing and marketing facilities to enhance the efficiency of FSD activities and to address ongoing environmental degradation.
1. Stakeholder participation and coordination
2. Information and awareness
Given the lack of sufficient information on all aspects of ensuring a safe and adequate food supply to urban populations, it was recommended that:
3. Food security and nutritional well-being among the urban poor
Given that the urban poor are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity and malnutrition, it was recommended that:
4. Information, sensitization, training and capacity building
The seminar recognised the needs of senior policy makers for information and sensitization and the needs of technical and managerial staff of city and local authorities (CLAs) for training and capacity building, particularly in the following areas:
Information and sensitization:
Training and capacity building:
CLAs and central government authorities should collaborate in ensuring capacity building in the following areas:
5. Physical infrastructure
Road improvement should be conducted for enhancing production, processing and distribution of food commodities;
6. Waste management and environmental protection
CLAs are usually responsible for the proper management of liquid and solid waste from food market and slaughterhouses. Such waste can be used for agricultural production and livestock feeding provided adequate care is taken in avoiding health and environmental negative implications. Central governments are responsible for ensuring that appropriate regulations are adopted and adequate capacity developed to ensure their enforcement. Awareness of the issue is necessary for all the sectors.
7. Legal issues
CLAs and central governments should legally recognise the informal sector as a first step to addressing existing problems and opportunities presented by the sector;
8. Enhancing private investment
9. North-South and South-South partnerships
CLAs in different countries have expertise and experience in many aspects of FSDS that can prove valuable to other cities. These should be shared through effective partnerships based on a proper understanding of local conditions, attitudes and requirements in a spirit of exchange rather than dependence. Various programmes by international and regional organizations such as CityNet, FAO and the European Commission exist to promote technical assistance partnerships and projects.