Food for the African cities of tomorrow


Food for the African cities of tomorrow

Watermelons on sale in a Cairo street

By the year 2020 nearly 60 percent of the population of sub-Sahara Africa will be living in urban areas and within 20 years most of the African cities will see their population doubled. The problems this urban growth raises for the food supply and distribution systems (FSDS) in the cities constitute the theme of the programme-framework presented by FAO in the Sub-regional Seminar held in Dakar, "Food Supply and Distribution in French-speaking African Cities", over 14-18 April.

The programme-framework "Food for the African Cities of Tomorrow" aims at making the agents working for economic development fully aware of the future problems, strengthening the national technical skills and professions involved and preparing development programmes for the FSDS based on collaboration between the various categories and institutions concerned.

The seminar on food security for African cities is organized by the Agricultural Research Institute of Senegal (ARIS) under the aegis of FAO and will be attended by more than 100 participants, particularly by the mayors of several of the largest West African cities which include Dakar, Ouagadougou, Abidjan, Accra, Douala, Bamako and Kinshasa.

When demand for food increases in the cities, food supply and distribution systems are constantly required to deliver produce from production areas which are becoming more and more distant from their destinations.

Placing effective, well-managed services and infrastructures at the disposal of private food sellers is now a matter of urgency. They must be given an appropriate legal structure and all necessary support in order to allow them to satisfy, at a minimum cost, the growing urban demand for food now undergoing continual evolution.

Dynamic and effective food supply and distribution systems are indispensable in improving food security for urban consumers, particularly the most deprived, so that access to the food and services required can be facilitated at reasonable prices. Meeting the new demands imposed by urban growth; reducing economic dependence on imports and at the same time strengthening food security; delivering produce to consumers while creating employment in the distribution sector: these are some of the challenges agents will have to meet in the course of the development process in the sub-Sahara countries of Africa.

The World Food Summit held at FAO in November 1996 set a priority for improvement in the efficiency of the marketing systems as well as in communications between production and consumption areas, aiming to improve access to food, and consequently food security ,in developing countries. The FAO programme on "Food Supply and Distribution in Cities" programme represents an important effort towards following up and implementing the Plan of Action supported by the commitment of FAO member countries undertaken during the World Food Summit.

FAO - ARIS Sub-regional Seminar
"Food Supply and Distribution in French-speaking African Cities"
Novotel, Dakar: 14-18 April 1997

This seminar, organized by ARIS under the aegis of FAO, aims at:

  • developing the important role of FSDS in urban food security;
  • emphasizing the constraints limiting development and the capacity to satisfy the rapid growth in the demand for food in cities;
  • defining the various possibilities of intervention from the public and private sectors in order to improve the dynamism and efficiency of FSDS.

The seminar also proposes to promote contacts and exchanges of skills between professionals in sub-Sahara Africa by organizing discussions among qualified work groups on particular technical aspects. They will thus be able to share their direct experiences in the FSDS of their cities and discuss the solutions proposed. This event is intended for all concerned in the development of FSDS in the urban areas of Africa: mayors, locally elected representatives, managers of distribution and wholesale markets, farmers, shop-keepers, transporters, public administrators, researchers, directors of financial organizations and money-lenders.

M. Olivio Argenti
Coordinator of Programme GCP/RAF/309
B-618 AGSM
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome, Italy
Tel.: (+ 39 6 ) 52 25 5119 or 52 25 20 05
Fax: (+ 39 6) 52 25 68 50
E-mail: [email protected]

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14 April 1997


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