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Chapter 3. Policies, Strategies and Programmes

3.1 Urban FSD policies
3.2 FSD strategies
3.3 FSD programmes
3.4 Coordinating and monitoring policy implementation

3.1 Urban FSD policies

3.1.1 Key areas of policy concern
3.1.2 Policy goals
3.1.3 Complementarity between policies
3.1.4 Policy objectives
3.1.5 Conflicts between policies
3.1.6 Proposals for policies and strategies

An urban food supply and distribution (FSD) policy is a set of goals, objectives, strategies and programmes spanning regional, metropolitan, urban and local areas. It is set within a precise timeframe and is formulated in close collaboration with all concerned stakeholders. It guides city and local authorities (CLAs) in the use of resources under their control and through private sector investment, to improve access by urban households to stable supplies of good quality food, through efficient, hygienic, healthy and environmentally sound food supply and distribution systems (FSDSs).

This chapter suggests a conceptual framework for the design of the components of:

1. policy goals and objectives;
2. strategies;
3. development programmes;
4. institutional responsibility.

3.1.1 Key areas of policy concern

An urban FSD policy usually focuses on three key areas detailed in Figure 3.1.

Other aspects of policy concern: urbanization, urban poverty and food security; urban food demand, consumption patterns and purchasing habits including nutritional aspects; FSDrelated employment and gender issues; market and nutritional information to consumers; role of central and local government institutions and private sector organizations in food supply and distribution systems (FSDSs); resource planning and management in urban and periurban areas; institution strengthening.

3.1.2 Policy goals

A policy goal is a broad statement of intent providing guidance for action. An urban FSD policy has three major goals (see Figure 3.2).

3.1.3 Complementarity between policies

A well-functioning FSDS facilitates access to food. Alone it does not guarantee that those without the means to buy food can do so. Public action is required to generate incomes through employment creation, food subsidies, food stamps, among other remedies. Nutrition, hygiene and health education is also important for the most vulnerable consumers. Therefore an urban FSD policy supports and is supported by other policies and programmes (see Figure 3.3).

3.1.4 Policy objectives

Policy objectives identify what is needed to achieve policy goals. Objectives are usually linked to one or more operational units and are typically short term, tied to annual budgets. They need to be amended as institutions respond to changes in resources and environment.

When designing urban FSD policies, it is necessary to ensure that:

Policy goals and objectives need to be logically related as indicated in A6.1.

Figure 3.1 Three Key Areas for Concern for Urban Food Supply and Distribution Policies

Food supply to cities

Projections for urban food and water needs; development of efficient and sustainable production, fishing, processing and storage in rural, periurban and urban areas; infrastructure, facilities and services for food assembly, handling, packaging and transport to cities; efficiency, transparency and dynamism of production and marketing systems; effectiveness of services (information, extension, etc.) to producers, processors and traders; food import logistics and procedures; promotion of private sector organizations and private investment; planning, development and management of slaughterhouses; legislation and regulations.

Urban food distribution

Planning, development and management of wholesale and retail markets and food shops; planning and organization of specific low-cost food distribution arrangements; street food and informal activities; modern distribution; intraurban transport; services to urban market users; promotion of market trader, shopkeeper and consumer associations and organizations; promotion of private investment in urban markets and shops; efficiency, transparency and dynamism of urban food distribution systems; legislation and regulations.

Health and environment


Food safety problems and contamination due to incorrect use of fertilizers, pesticides and wastewater, lack of hygiene in food supply and distribution activities and pollutants; legislation and regulations.


Management of waste from markets and slaughterhouses; air, water and soil pollution caused by food supply and distribution activities; forest depletion because of fuelwood use; legislation and regulations.

Figure 3.2 Policy Goals

Economic goal

Efficient food supply and distribution systems to achieve:

  • stable supplies of low-cost food to lowincome urban consumers;
  • food production incentives through equitable marketing opportunities for farmers.

Social goal

Minimize food insecurity in poor urban households to achieve:

  • improved equity from lower food prices;
  • reduced social disruption, because supplies and prices are more stable;
  • increased employment and income opportunities in the food sector.

Health and environmental goal

Eliminate food-related health problems and minimize the negative impact of food supply and distribution activities on the environment by fostering:

  • better hygiene conditions in the food chain;
  • environmentally friendly and sustainable food production systems;
  • better located, maintained and managed food market and processing infrastructure;
  • better market and slaughterhouse waste disposal and use;
  • better attention to ecological conditions of the city during planning.

Figure 3.3 Some of the Policies and Programmes which are Required to Improve Urban Food Security

Source: Argenti, 2000.
Figure 3.4 Programmes, Subprogrammes and Action Plans
Source: Argenti, 2000.
Figure 3.5 Basic Principles for Food Supply and Distribution Strategies

Principle 1 Right Approach

Adopt an approach which is consultative, participatory, open-minded, alliance seeking and technically sound.

Private sector associations and organizations must be promoted and encouraged to play an active role in planning decisions to address constraints faced by members.

Principle 2 Competition

Promote competition and reduce the influence of large intermediaries.

The use of weighing scales promotes fair practices in markets.

Principle 3 No Fashions

Resist fashions for "modernization" or "preserving tradition". Encourage developments which lower the cost of living and stimulate employment growth in the city.

Farmer and itinerant markets provide low-cost food in poor urban districts.

Principle 4 Go Private

Facilities and services that can be run as businesses are best left to the private sector.

Market infrastructure must be properly maintained, managed and developed to accomodate increasing food quantities coming to cities.

3.1.5 Conflicts between policies

Conflicts may arise between macro-economic policies and specific FSD policies. It will be necessary to assess the impact of national policies on various areas, among which:

Legislative and regulatory


Are budget allocations to city and local authorities in line with increasing responsibilities, especially for transport and market infrastructure development?

Food trade development

Will plans to make the food sector more professional harm micro- and small-scale food production, marketing and processing initiatives?

Tax and tariffs

Do measures to control inflation and public sector budgetary requirements obstruct private investments in food supply and distribution?

Institution strengthening

Are prospective reductions in government budgets likely to stifle re-training of staff required by changes in policy orientation and decentralization programmes?

Micro, small and medium enterprises

Will plans to make the food sector more professional harm micro- and small-scale food production, marketing and processing enterprises?

Structural reforms

Table 3.1 Elaboration of Strategies

Strategies relating to the external factors:

  • options for urban space development;
  • options stemming from pipeline privatization and removal of state support;
  • options stemming from the policy to promote private investment;
  • options stemming from the domestic and external trade policy.

Specific strategies relating to the internal factors:

  • prices, margins and costs;
  • information about markets and prices;
  • infrastructure and equipment (e.g. wholesale markets and storage areas);
  • standards (quality) and standardization (allowing produce to be grouped together and prices fixed without the produce being seen);
  • organization of food pipelines (reduction of post-harvest food losses) and occupations (transport and storage techniques and computerization);
  • institution strengthening to better assist private service and infrastructure operators;
  • linkage between domestic and export pipelines.

3.1.6 Proposals for policies and strategies

Proposals for urban FSD policies and strategies should be structured as indicated in Table 3.2.

3.2 FSD strategies

Strategies describe how policy objectives and goals can be achieved.

FSD strategies must be seen in the context of policies and customs governing different aspects of economic and social life. Economic life concerns structural adjustment, economic liberalization and decentralization. Social life encompasses religious and ethnic rules.

Urban FSD strategies should follow four basic principles (see Figure 3.5 and Table 3.1).

A particularly important strategic consideration is the extent of public versus private responsibility (see A4.3).

FSDS strategies may be designed maintaining the distinction between external and internal factors, as suggested in § 3.1. An example is provided in A6.2.

Figure 3.6 Evolution of Urban Food Distribution Subsystems

Source: Tracey-White, 1991.

Table 3.2 Structure of Policy and Strategy Proposal

1. Background and justification from summary of consolidated case study (maximum 500 words)

2. Why an urban FSD policy is needed (maximum 300 words)

3. Urban FSD policy goals and objectives (maximum 300 words)

4. Urban FSD policy strategies (maximum 300 words)

5. Possible conflicts with other policies and strategies and proposals for solutions (maximum 300 words)

6. Institutions involved in urban FSD policy monitoring and implementation

7. Title and objectives of development programme and of its components and their relation to policy objectives

Food marketing is a source of employment and income for the poor, particularly women and youth.

3.3 FSD programmes

3.3.1 Preparing the programme
3.3.2 Definition and verification of objectives and strategies
3.3.3 Organization of sets of results
3.3.4 Financial implications

Once solutions, policies and strategies have been agreed upon among all concerned stakeholders, FSD development programmes spanning regional, metropolitan, urban and local areas (see Figure 3.4) need to be designed.

FSD programmes are sets of coherent and logically structured interventions and expected results. They are set within a timeframe with well-defined implementation tasks. Their specific objectives are linked to the achievement of FSD policy goals and objectives. This occurs in the urban area in conjunction with periurban and rural areas from where the city gets its food supplies, or through which the food consumed in the city transits.

The design of FSD programmes is an iterative process comprising the following stages:

1. design of programmes (identification of geographic areas);
2. design of subprogrammes (identification of main technical areas);
3. design of action plans for each subprogramme.
Programmes, subprogrammes and action plans should comprise clearly identified targets and indicators (see § 3.4). Actions plans should also include expected results, related interventions as well as institutional responsibilities.

Action plans focus on specific themes (e.g.: market infrastructure, transport; services, environment protection, institution strengthening), arranged by specific topics. They can be structured in terms of the time allowed for achieving the expected results:

For examples see A6.3, A6.4 and A6.5.

Table 3.3 Coherence of Strategies between Programmes and Action Plans

Programme strategies

1. Dialogue between public and private sectors;
2. effective interinstitutional collaboration;
3. strengthening of rural-urban relations;
4. institution strengthening to improve decisions in support of public operators;
5. improvement of existing infrastructure;
6. promotion of an appropriate macro-economic and regulatory framework for FSDS development;
7. privatization of FSDS-related activities and services.

Strategies of action plan "Urban market improvement"

  • Dialogue between public and private sectors (1);
  • private operator collaboration in programme preparation and implementation (1);
  • low-cost measures to improve existing infrastructure funded with financial assistance from benefiting traders (5);
  • private operators encouraged to take responsibility for infrastructure maintenance (7);
  • privatization of market management (7).

Strategies of action plan "Improving rural-urban food transport"

  • Dialogue between public and private sectors (1);
  • effective interinstitutional collaboration (2);
  • strengthening of rural-urban linkages (3);
  • collaboration between private groups (traders and transporters) (1) (2);
  • special low-cost measures and existing infrastructure improvement (5).

Note: The numbers in brackets refer to the relevant overall programme strategy.

3.3.1 Preparing the programme

The results of each stage should be presented as forms. Together, these forms will constitute the development programme document:

3.3.2 Definition and verification of objectives and strategies

The formulation of a FSDS development programme also entails defining the objectives of subprogrammes and action plans (see A6.11). All such objectives must aim to achieve one or more objectives set for the overall development programme.

Each programme and subprogramme must be formulated making sure that the proposed interventions are consistent with overall policy strategies (see Table 3.3 and 3.4).

3.3.3 Organization of sets of results

Sets of results for each action plan should be gauged over time and capable of being quantified. Sets of results for "action plan A" are presented in A6.12. An example of this process is shown in A6.13.

3.3.4 Financial implications

Calculating the financial cost of each intervention may be not straightforward. This is because there may be different ways to achieve a result (e.g. the rehabilitation of a specific urban market), each implying different costs. Other times, the full financial implication of a proposal may require a detailed analysis or a pre-feasibility study. Whenever possible, an estimate of the financial cost components in local and foreign currencies should be provided.

Urban gardens provide cheap fresh food for household consumption. But crops may be a source of health risks.

Table 3.4 Coherence of Action Plan A "Urban Market Improvement"

Objective of specific subprogrammes

Urban food markets are clean and functional places where traders and consumers can safely meet.

Set A1:
Physical improvement of urban markets

Set A2:
Hygiene and safety

Set A3:
Market management

Objectives of results

All urban market have functional infrastructure within six years

Hygiene and safety conditions in all urban markets meet official standards within three years.

All urban markets are efficiently managed within ten years.

3.4 Coordinating and monitoring policy implementation

The steps from constraint analysis to policy implementation are summarized (see A6.14).

Monitoring progress in the implementation of FSD policy and programmes is essential for accountability to the electorate and to central government.

FSD programmes usually need to be implemented by several different authorities and departments. Each implementing authority or department should have agreed FSD policy targets against which its performance can be assessed (see Table 3.5 and 3.6).

A food supply and distribution policy unit can assist in coordinating and monitoring policy implementation (see A6.15).

Table 3.5 Benefits and Characteristics of Good Performance Indicators

Good performance indicators have the following benefits:

  • help clarify policy objectives;
  • indicate the effectiveness with which particular activities are being undertaken;
  • can trigger in-depth review of factors that lead to underachieving and facilitate adoption of remedial actions that improve the quality of inputs and outputs; and
  • provide management with an objective basis for operating an incentive scheme that effectively motivates staff.

Good performance indicators should be:

  • simple, meaningful to stakeholders who need the required information;
  • relevant, indicators must relate directly to the specified goals and objectives;
  • valid, what is meant to be measured is actually what is measured;
  • reliable, measurement procedure or instrument used will, to a large extent, produce the same results when used by different people or by the same person at different places;
  • timely, data and information required is available when needed;
  • cost-effective, the means for collecting, processing, analysing, storing and retrieving data and information is comparatively the least costly without compromising quality.

Source: Rose and Lawton (1999).
Table 3.6 An Example of Targets and Indicators

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