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Chapter 2. The Case Study

2.1 Introduction
2.2 The terms of reference
2.3 The phases of the case study
2.4 Stages of the case study
2.5 External review

2.1 Introduction

The relationships between growth in food demand, urban spatial expansion, urban poverty and FSDS efficiency and dynamism are analysed by means of a case study.


The case study intends to facilitate the formulation of technically sound food supply and distribution (FSD) policies, strategies and programmes, at regional, metropolitan, urban and local level (or at urban, periurban and rural level) with clear institutional responsibilities and in a spirit of partnership between the private and public sectors combined with collaboration between central and local government institutions. These include specific private-sector, low-cost FSD arrangements to target the urban poor,


The case study sets the following immediate objectives:

1. identify current and future constraints to FSDS efficiency and dynamism in the city concerned;

2. define the remedial measures needed to promote the development and modernization of food supply and distribution systems (FSDSs).

Basic assumptions
1. Present constraints affecting FSDSs are either the cause of additional FSD costs or missed opportunities for economies;

2. urban growth and the growth of urban food needs will lead to a further rise in FSD costs;

3. direct or indirect measures on FSDSs are implemented by public (e.g. central or local government) or para-statal institutions with insufficient knowledge of FSDSs, and with an inadequate policy and strategic approach.

The above assumptions may be accompanied or replaced by others. For instance, a city’s growth may fall second to market control by the traders, lack of infrastructure, barriers to entry, lack of private initiative, and legal as well as regulatory restrictions to trade.

Table 2.1 Who is Interested in an FSDS Case Study?

  • The mayors, city administrators, policy makers and planners, who will use the study findings to support their formulation of urban FSD policies, programmes and investment decisions;
  • the central and sectoral institutions involved in improving those aspects of FSDSs and food security which do not fall within the local authorities’ mandate;
  • national and international funding institutions whose decisions regarding investment funding will be based on technically reliable information;
  • the private institutions and governing bodies (e.g. Chambers of Commerce as well as consumers, traders, producers associations) likely to be involved in implementing FSD development programmes;
  • international cooperation institutions and NGOs whose role is to provide technical assistance to raise awareness and to channel resources;
  • the urban families who will benefit from the measures taken.

Table 2.2
Structure of the Case Study

Chapter 1
The urban, socioeconomic and institutional context

Chapter 2
Present-day urban food
demand, food insecurity and FSDSs

Chapter 3
The city and its FSDS
in the future

The urban context:

  • spatial description;
  • the urban population;
  • the growth of other urban areas.

The socio-economic,
institutional and legislative

  • urban population distribution;
  • urban poverty;
  • FSDS-generated employment:
  • public services;
  • political and macro-economic contexts;
  • institutional context;
  • on-going policies and programmes;
  • the official and unofficial legislative and regulatory context.

Urban food demand and food insecurity:

  • quantities of food consumed in the city;
  • urban consumers’food habits;
  • urban consumers’ purchasing patterns;
  • nature and extent of urban household food insecurity and its causes.

Food supply to cities subsystem:

  • food production in rural and periurban areas upon which the city depends for its food supplies;
  • food production within the urban areas;
  • food import logistics and procedures;
  • food assembly, handling, packaging and transport to cities (infrastructure, facilities and services);
  • food processing facilities and slaughterhouses;
  • legislation and regulations.

Costs, profits and margins.

Social costs and negative

Urban food distribution subsystem:

  • wholesale markets;
  • retail outlets: planned markets, food shops, supermarkets, street vendors;
  • specific low-cost food distribution arrangements;
  • street food and informal activities;
  • intra-urban transport;
  • services to urban market users;
  • market trader, shopkeeper and consumer associations and organizations;
  • private investment in urban markets and shops;
  • legislation and regulations.

Costs, profits and margins.

Social costs and negative externalities.

Policies, programmes and institutions:

  • public or private sector FSD development programmes;
  • institutional aspects.

The city in ten years time.

The "status quo" scenario.

The "desirable" scenario.

Comparison of the scenarios.

Chapter 4
Conclusions and recommendations

Content of the chapters of the case study (see Table 2.2)


Content: description of the urban, socioeconomic, institutional and regulatory context of the issues concerned.


Description of present-day urban food demand, types of FSDS structures and players (public and private), their organization, operation, stability, fragility, performance and efficiency in meeting urban consumers food requirements.

In principle, all the food groups are to be taken into account: cereals, fruits and vegetables, roots and tubers, meat and dairy products, fresh and dried fish, and products processed and dried by traditional methods. Groups of products will be included in the analysis on the basis of their importance in consumers’ diets and the financial and human resources available for implementing the study.


Projections of the city ten years into the future and analyses of whether and how the FSDSs will be able to meet the urban consumers’ food requirements (in terms of volume, quality, stability, services and costs). It analyses the possible implications of urban growth and the socio-economic factors on FSDS structure, organization and performance.

The aims of this analysis are:

1. determine whether there is a correlation between urban growth and socio-economic factors on the one hand, and FSDS efficiency and dynamism on the other;

2. identify the processes of change, adaptation and modernization (exogenous and endogenous, spontaneous and induced) which the FSDSs must adopt in the short, medium and long terms in order to meet urban food requirements adequately.

This analysis will be based on simple assumptions which will help to define two scenarios:
1. a "status quo" scenario which projects current trends concerning the city (urban space, poverty mapping, urban food demand) and FSDSs into the future (say ten years) assuming no corrective interventions;

2. a "desirable" (but realistic) scenario which simulates the situation in an FSDS in ten years. It outlines which structure, which type of spatial and functional organization, which system of operation (infrastructure, facilities and services) and which level of performance of FSDSs will best meet urban food demand at a given time and with a given spatial urban development.


Clear, succinct and operational conclusions and recommendations.

Steps in developing the case study

1. Define the organization of the present FSDS and the way it functions;

2. translate the perception of the various problems currently observed into a number of specific questions about the city and its FSDSs;

3. identify and prioritize the constraints affecting the FSDS;

4. collect, organize and analyse information and data using an interdisciplinary methodology;

5. identify, analyse, select and assign priority to the possible solutions;

6. define the development objectives and strategies;

7. recognize, choose and designate the requisite accompanying selected measures.

To undertake the above steps, it is necessary to:

Table 2.3 Example of Institutional Responsibilities by Geographic Area

As responsibility for the development of each geographic area is usually shared between different institutions (see following), the preparation of geographic subprogrammes facilitates the assignment of specific institutional responsibilities for the implementation of the development programme.

Urban areas

  • Urban food production: municipality, Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Agriculture;
  • urban food marketing: municipality, Ministry of Urban Planning, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Health, associations of market traders, transporters and consumers; Standards organization;
  • health and environment: municipality, Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Health, Standards organization.

Periurban areas

  • Periurban food production: Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Rural Development, periurban farmers associations;
  • food processing: Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Health; Standards organization;
  • periurban-urban linkages: municipalities in periurban areas; Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Transport; Standards organization;
  • health and environment: municipalities in periurban areas; Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Health.

Rural areas

  • Rural food production: Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Rural Development, rural farmers associations;
  • food processing: Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Health;
  • rural-urban linkages: municipalities in rural areas, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Transport;
  • health and environment: municipalities in rural areas, Environmental Protection and Public Health Bodies.

Interinstitutional cooperation

Improvement measures on the FSDSs will interest urban, periurban and rural areas (or local, urban, metropolitan and regional levels) in which numerous institutions intervene (see Table 2.3).

Effective interinstitutional cooperation is imperative if one is to:

Interinstitutional cooperation could be eased through the establishment of interinstitutional study groups (ISG) (see § A3.2.5) to focus on specific issues and an interinstitutional steering committee (ISC) (see A5.2).

2.2 The terms of reference

The TORs contain all the information needed to implement the study (see Table 2.4). It is possible to map out an efficient research path suited to the city and its FSDSs. This is a dynamic process requiring continuous review of the TORs.

The general TORs in Annex 2 need to be adapted to local conditions by the body responsible for the study and/or by the ISC and by the interdisciplinary team members.

Table 2.4 Terms of Reference

The terms of reference must include:

  • the objective of the case study;
  • the main topics;
  • the issues to be developed within the context of the topics;
  • the hypotheses to be tested;
  • the questions to be answered;
  • the information to be collected and analysed;
  • the method of work and the methodological approaches;
  • the expected results;
  • the presentation of the results;
  • the organization of the study.

2.3 The phases of the case study

2.3.1 Phase 1: the pre-case study
2.3.2 Phase 2: the case study proper

The case study is carried out in two phases: the "pre-case study" (phase 1) with an overall view of the issues, and a more in-depth analysis called: "the case study proper" (phase 2) (see Figure 2.1).

2.3.1 Phase 1: the pre-case study


The objectives of the pre-case study are:

1. to understand the overall structure and operation of the FSDS to the city and assess its overall efficiency and dynamism;

2. to identify the major issues, constraints and possible solutions at urban, periurban and rural level, bearing in mind the city’s anticipated growth;

3. to identify those aspects requiring a more detailed examination during phase 2;

4. encourage interinstitutional participation in phase 2.

Expected outputs

Phase 1 should produce:

1. general assessment of FSDS structure, performance, constraints, their causes and possible solutions

The results should be:

2. issues for further investigation

A list will be compiled of the problems, critical points and constraints surrounding FSDSs about which information is lacking, and the ad hoc studies required to be undertaken in phase 2. It will therefore be necessary to pinpoint such issues:

Proposals will contain:


The pre-case study may commence by categorizing past and expected urban physical expansion, poverty distribution, urban food needs, extent of urban household food insecurity; location, using maps, of main supply areas, food transport axes and urban markets. The process gradually expands to cover institutional responsibilities as well as past, present and planned interventions. Although it may not be possible to cover all the items included in the general TORs, the description and analysis should suffice to show the complexity and interrelationships between the various FSDS elements. Major constraints are identified as well as problems requiring immediate solution. Problems and constraints should not simply be listed but presented as sets interconnected at critical points. Key areas for further investigation should also be identified.

Phase 1 comprises five main stages:

1. collection of information and data (see § 2.4.1);
2. analysis of information and data (see § 2.4.2);
3. analysis of FSDSs, identification of constraints, critical points and solutions (see § 2.4.3);
4. identification of specific issues for further investigation (see § 2.4.2);
5. external review (see § 2.5).
Figure 2.1 How the Phases of the Case Study are Linked


Phase 1 should not exceed twelve weeks/man.

2.3.2 Phase 2: the case study proper

During phase 2, there will be:

1. an expansion of the general assessment of FSDSs undertaken during the pre-case study;
2. studies of specific topics, the need for which was identified during the pre-case study;
3. pre-feasibility assessments of proposed major infrastructure investments.

The aims of the case study proper are to:

1. facilitate consensus by all concerned institutions on proposed interventions;

2. facilitate the formulation of urban FSD policies, strategies and development programmes, at regional, metropolitan, urban and local level (or at urban, periurban and rural level) based on a technically sound analytical framework.

Expected outputs

Phase 2 should produce:

1. technically sound and sustainable remedial measures to address the constraints affecting FSDSs and support their development to meet growing urban food needs;

2. a document consolidating the FSDS constraint analysis and selected remedial measures;

3. proposals for specific low-cost FSD arrangements to target the urban poor.

The lack of adequate food containers can encumber the development of micro and small food processing enterprises in hygienic conditions.


Phase 2 comprises seven stages:

1. collection of information and data (see § 2.4.1);

2. analysis of scenarios (see § 2.2.2);

3. in-depth analysis of specific FSD issues (see § 2.4.2) including present and future FSD specific issues and constraints and their causes (see § 2.5.3);

4. identification and pre-feasibility of public and private infrastructure investment needs and opportunities (see A5.3, 5.7 and 5.8 and Tracey-White, 1999);

5. external review (see § 2.6).


The duration of phase 2 depends on the work to be done, the size of the city, the complexity of its FSDS, the amount and quality of the data required, the surveys to be completed, the funds available and the available technical and financial resources.

Non motorized transport helps keep food prices low, provides employment for young and poor people and does not pollute but contributes to traffic congestion in and around markets.

2.4 Stages of the case study

2.4.1 Collection of information and data
2.4.2 Analysis of information and data
2.4.3 Analysis of problems, constraints, critical points and remedial measures

2.4.1 Collection of information and data

Required information can be collected by:

2.4.2 Analysis of information and data

This guide does not review the several methods of analysis. An interdisciplinary methodological approach is introduced in Annex 1. Those responsible for carrying out the study will develop individual and group methodologies.

If the problems are identified without assessing their relative importance or urgency, solutions put forward without assessing feasibility or sustainability in time, remedial measures proposed without adequate knowledge of their efficiency, impact and realism, the team’s efforts will be rendered null. The proposals for FSDS policies, strategies and programmes will be left on the shelf. The validity, acceptance, implementation and impact of the proposals on food security depend on this process. It is imperative to adopt appropriate, selective criteria.

Information is handled as follows:

2.4.3 Analysis of problems, constraints, critical points and remedial measures

The analysis of the problems, constraints and critical points follows the relationship:


The criteria to be adopted for problem analysis, selecting and prioritizing remedial measures are relative and not absolute. A5.6.1 and A5.6.2 suggest a pragmatic approach to problem identification and how to grade the problems by priority.

There are a number of criteria for selecting remedial measures, investment projects and support measures. These shall depend on the complexity of any given remedial measure. Some general criteria are suggested in A5.5.3 See A.4.7 and A5.8 and Tracey-White (2000) for criteria relating to decisions in market infrastructure investment.

Table 2.5
Time Required to Implement Remedial Measures

In order to judge the time needed for each group of remedial measures, or each individual measure, the following elements must be borne in mind:

  • the operational capacity of the persons and institutions involved in the implementation of the measures;
  • the country’s level of economic development;
  • political and institutional constraints;
  • implementation costs and actual funding opportunities.

Source: Seck et al., 1997b.

2.5 External review

2.5.1 Phase 1: submission of results
2.5.2 Phase 1 and 2: discussion of specific topics
2.5.3 Phase 2: submission of results

There will be external reviews so the team can submit its analysis as well as preliminary and final proposals. External reviews are an opportunity to obtain the opinions of the concerned social groups, the eventual "official" approval by the interested institutions and pave the way for beneficiaries and institutions to participate in the implementation of the proposed programmes.

For details about:

Workshops should last no more than one day. Workshop reports should be widely distributed among all concerned institutions, organizations and associations.

Table 2.6 Direct and Indirect Beneficiaries of Remedial Measures

The «direct beneficiaries» of an intervention could be the staff of the public and private institutions directly involved in the programme.

The «indirect beneficiaries» are the groups of people whose situation it is hoped to improve, e.g. the most deprived urban consumers, food traders and transporters.

It is important to identify the target groups and describe their main characteristics (socio-economic, demographic and occupational) and most urgent needs, and show how beneficiaries will effectively reap the benefits.

2.5.1 Phase 1: submission of results

At the end of phase 1, a short issues paper will be prepared summarizing and outlining the content of all the documents prepared. This paper should be distributed to the participants a few days before each workshop.

Participants will:

Table 2.7 Layout of the Final Version of the Case Study

  • Abstract of the study (250 words maximum);
  • presentation of the authors (maximum 100 words per author);
  • table of contents;
  • list of acronyms of institutions and abbreviations used;
  • list of tables, boxes, figures (maps, diagrams, graphs and drawings) and pictures;
  • analytical summary (1500 words maximum);
  • introduction;
  • chapter 1: the urban, socio-economic and institutional context;
  • chapter 2: present-day urban food demand and FSDSs;
  • chapter 3: the city and FSDSs in the future;
  • chapter 4: conclusions and recommendations;
  • annexes;
  • bibliography;
  • list of persons met.

2.5.2 Phase 1 and 2: discussion of specific topics

During both phases, there should be technical discussions on specific topics (e.g.: SME development; FSD legislation and regulations; wholesale market development, retail outlets development, urban and periurban food production). The aim of each workshop is to show the progress made, submit the interim results of the team’s work and present the measures proposed in relation to a specific topic. Direct and indirect beneficiaries will be invited to attend, particularly policy makers and senior planners and representatives of concerned private sector organizations.

Maximum time will have to be devoted to obtaining the views of different interest groups.

2.5.3 Phase 2: submission of results

The final version of the case study could be structured as suggested in Table 2.7.

A final workshop should review the diagnosis and the FSD policy, strategy and development programme proposals. The aim is to:


  • The TORs must be sufficiently detailed so as to provide guidance for the study team on specific points of interest, at the same time leaving them free to look at other points and use other approaches;
  • the tasks must be feasible and realistic in relation to the resources (human, logistical and financial) and the time available. The delimiting criteria governing the study subjects must be clearly defined;
  • particular attention shall be paid to political considerations (e.g. choice of beneficiaries, criteria on which scenarios are to be based and choice of sites) which may emerge during the study’s implementation phase. These aspects must be discussed and clarified with the ISC;
  • those responsible for the study must provide an effective way of communicating with the ISC. Meetings must be properly organized and minutes regularly distributed in order to avoid subsequent misunderstandings;
  • the TOR subject matter must follow a logical and progressive order (e.g. past situation, present situation and future analysis of current trends). This will allow scenarios, based on specific timeframes and assumptions, to be prepared.
  • precede every external review by an internal review in order to test the content and improve on the presentation of the information and on arrangements for the external discussions.


1. A general, standard formulation of the type: "The relevant authorities are urged to take all necessary action in order to..." must be avoided. It says nothing.

2. For an annotated bibliography on FSDSs, see Aragrande and Farolfi, 1997 and Aragrande, 1997.

3. Should more detailed surveys be necessary, they should be proposed as an aspect for further analysis to be undertaken during phase 2, or as an activity in the FSD development programme.

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