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Urban Food Actions Platform

Food Insecurity in Informal Settlements in Lilongwe, Malawi

Author: Emmanuel Chilanga, Liam Riley, Juliana Ngwira, Chisomo Chalinda and Lameck Masitala
Publisher:African Food Security Urban Network (AFSUN)
2017

Although there is widespread food availability in urban areas across the Global South, it is not correlated with universal access to adequate amounts of nutritious foods. In Southern Africa, empirical research has uncovered extensive food insecurity at the household scale in cities with an abundance of food.1 An urban household food security baseline survey was administered by AFSUN in 2008 in a peri-urban community within the boundaries of Blantyre City which, due to its low population density and distance from the city centre, included many agricultural households.2 In many other Southern African cities, the AFSUN research was conducted in informal settlements. As a result, Blantyre’s findings appeared anomalous, with lower levels of food insecurity and much higher rates of participation in urban agriculture. However, most of Malawi’s urban poor households reside in high-density informal settlements and, therefore, this type of urban environment needs to be surveyed to see if it conforms to broader regional patterns.3 This report is based on a household survey conducted in six low-income informal areas in Lilongwe, where three-quarters of the population live in informal settlements.4 According to the former chief executive of the Lilongwe City Council, “the rapid population growth rate [4% per annum] is almost synonymous with the growth of informal settlements.”5 Understanding the dimensions of household food insecurity in these neighbourhoods is critical to sustainable and inclusive growth in Malawi’s capital city.

Region: Africa
Coverage: Malawi
Areas of focus: Sustainable diets and nutrition, Food supply and distribution