As people move to towns in search of better opportunities, accelerating urbanization brings new challenges. More people in urban areas mean that more food, more goods, more services and more employment opportunities must be provided.
While there are certainly more foods available year round, and more jobs and social services in urban areas, not everyone is able to benefit equally. A growing number of urban poor face a daily struggle to feed their families adequately. People who move to cities must adopt new methods of acquiring, preparing and eating food. Poor shelter, lack of sanitation and hygiene and insufficient social services in slum areas further compound the problems of the poor.
Excessive intake of energy, coupled with limited physical activity, lead to rising problems of obesity and diet-related chronic diseases in most cities. These problems are increasingly found among the poorer sectors of society, where it is not uncommon to find overweight and obese adults living with underweight children, amid widespread micronutrient deficiencies.
Focussing on food security, nutrition and livelihoods in urban and peri-urban areas is a pre-requisite for helping poor city-dwellers attain a healthier life, and enable city authorities and local governments to broaden their strategy towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).