Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

This member contributed to:

    • Submission from the Migration and Food Security (MiFOOD) Network and Hungry Cities Partnership (HCP) (

      We would like to congratulate the HLPE on addressing this important topic and producing such a comprehensive and robust report.

      Major Comment

      Our primary recommend action is that the report pay more attention to migration as a driver and consequence of food insecurity and inequality.

      1. Globally, there are almost 300 million migrants living in other countries, nearly 750 million internal migrants and 75 million refugees. Migration and migrant status are thus critical, but poorly understood, determinants of food security inequality for over 1 billion people.  Migration appears only twice in the report and the discussion on 'migrants' is reduced to the challenges faced by migrant workers in the agricultural sector. This is a surprising omission, especially since a growing number of works (including several reports by food security-focused organisations such as FAO and WFP) have highlighted the multiple roles and significance of migration in food security/insecurity and the dynamic interactions between these two.  The Global Nutrition Report 2020 , for example, has inserted migrant status as a key criterion/determinant (along with age, gender, ethnicity, etc.) to measure nutrition/food security status of individuals and households, using an enhanced equity lens.
      2. Migrants are also not a homogeneous group, and there are several categories of vulnerable migrants (refugees, asylum-seekers, migrants in transit, student migrants, irregular migrants) whose migration from their countries of origin and presence in receiving areas can be connected in various ways with food insecurity and inequalities. Thus, migrants are tied to the inequalities in two settings, their areas of origin and destination. Migrants also experience inequalities differently due to their status as ‘non-citizens’ and limited access to rights and entitlements in host/receiving countries, with profound effects on food security.
      3. Another crucial dimension is that as members of transnational and translocal households stretched across different geographical spaces, migrants attempt to address the food insecurity of their households related to inequalities through food remittances and cash remittances. Remitting practices function as informal social welfare mechanisms but bring additional burdens on migrants and their own food security in destination countries.
      4. The rampant inequalities produced by conflict and crisis circumstances in fragile countries/settings and its direct impacts on the food security of a large segment of population has been identified as a key driver of large-scale forced migrations. Conflict-ridden countries, such as Syria, are also experiencing food crises, and in other crisis-affected settings (Venezuela and Zimbabwe are good examples), the food crisis is a key component that has sharply intensified prevailing inequalities. While refugee camps in many countries insulate refugees from the general population, urban refugees (an estimated 40% of the total) cannot rely on support from the UNHCR and other agencies and struggle with high levels of food insecurity in cities.
      5. Migrant remittance flow are another key dimension of food security, insecurity and inequality.  International remittances (which reached  in 2022) and internal urban-rural remittances (thought to be many times that amount) r now at USD $   billion per year).  While they play a well-documented role in the food security of recipient individuals, households and communities, they can also intensify inequalities in food security between recipients and non-recipients in swending areas and countries.
      6. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the vulnerability of most migrants to food insecurity and inequality who were often the first to experience unemployment and income loss  and were often not eligible for pandemic-related social protection programmes.

      Key References.

      Chikanda, A., Crush, J. & Taweodzera, G. 2020. Urban food security and South-South migration to cities of the Global South. In J. Crush, B. Frayne & G. Haysom (Eds), Handbook on Urban Food Security in the Global South (Cheltenham: Elgar), pp. 261-281.

      Choitani, C. 2017. Understanding the linkages between migration and household food security in India, Geographical Research 55(2): 192-205.

      Crush, J. & Caesar, M. 2017. Cultivating the migration-food security nexus. International Migration 55: 19-27

      Nisbet, C., Lestrat, K. & Vatanparast, H. 2022.  Food security interventions among refugees around the globe: A scoping review. Nutrients 2022, 14(3), 522.

      Obi. C., Barolini, F. & D’Haese, M. 2020. International migration, remittance and food security during food crises: the case study of Nigeria. Food Security 12: 207-220.

      Orjuela-Grimm, M. et al. 2022. Migrants on the move and food (in)security: A call for research. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 24:1318-1327.

      Xu, F. Crush, J. & Zhong, T. 2023.  Pathways to food insecurity: Migration, hukou and COVID‐19 in Nanjing, China. Population, Space and Place (published online).

      Other Comments

      1) On the Nanjing case the report notes that "In Nanjing, China, as the city grows and as new residential areas are developed, city planners are obligated to incorporate new markets, activated as a specific threshold of residential units is surpassed.” This is potentially misleading as it emphasizes the role of planners but ignores the role of city property developers. In fact, it is property developers that have taken the lead in establishing new markets in newly developed city regions, as is required by the municipal government. It is also worth mentioning that comprehensive food environment planning in Nanjing goes beyond developing new markets and includes initiatives that address all four pillars of food security, through urban planning, subsidies and food safety management.

      Zhong, T. et al. 2021. Comprehensive food system planning for urban food security in Nanjing, China.  Land 10(10): 1090.

      2) Alternative food initiatives/networks, particularly community supported agriculture and farmers' markets, are missing in the discussion of addressing food inequalities. They have been an important force of the food sovereignty movement and have been pivotal in sustaining the development of agroecology in many countries, opening new spaces for smallholders to navigate the structural inequalities in industrial food systems.

      Haysom, G. 2018. Food  insecurity and alternative food networks in cities of the global South. HCP Discussion Paper No. 19, Cape Town.

      Submission By:

      Dr Jonathan Crush Contact 

      Dr Sujata Ramachandran

      Dr Zhenzhong Si