Food for the cities programme

Defining boundaries

The spatial/territorial  boundaries of the city region need to be determined in order to map and assess specific territorially defined data and indicators related, for example, to the amount of food that is consumed by the inhabitants of the city region or the amount of food that currently is or potentially can be produced in the city region. Boundaries should be set to include a specific city or cluster of cities whose reach (both for supplying inputs and for marketing its own output) encompasses an area larger than the city itself, i.e. regional. In most city regions, data will be available for (sub) national or urban and rural levels, not city regions. Statistics and spatial datasets will usually need to be disaggregated for the city region and missing data will need to be collected.

The geographic limit of the city region should be significant for the reference city, either because that region supplies or should supply a large share of food demanded by the city or the reference city purchases or could purchase a large share of food processed in that city region: the city region may include surrounding countryside, hamlets, villages and small towns. The purpose of working at the level of a city region is not to promote increased self-reliance of the city region (although this may be a specific policy objective); rather it is to better diversify food supply sources to enhance a city region’s resilience and decrease its vulnerability against disruption in food supply. Simply stated it is a question of “Where is our food coming from and how is it getting to us?"

Lusaka food market

Working at city region level is also consistent with the recognition of the interlinkages between urban and rural area(s) that go beyond mere city boundaries and of the importance of regional food system activities for food security, economic development (with food systems being the main employer in many cities), environmental management (ecosystem services, resource recycling) and climate change adaptation.

To define such boundaries, a literature review can be implemented, see the examples from Kitwe, Lusaka and Colombo in the below box. A rapid food flow analysis can also be used. It is important to visualise the city region on a cadastral or GIS map that serves as a reference for further data collection and stakeholder discussions.

More information on the criteria that can be used to define CRFS boundaries are given in the Criteria section.

Project tools and examples

Comparison of boundaries delimitation of the city region in different cities

This document summarizes the city region boundary definition for each of the FAO-RUAF CRFS project cities in one overview document.

Pros and cons for different definitions of the Toronto city region food system boundaries

This document presents the pros and cons for different boundaries options in Toronto: the Greenbelt, the Golden Horseshoe and the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

Medellin criteria for defining CRFS

This tool describes the criteria used in Medellín for defining the local CRFS boundaries.

Literature review for CRFS boundaries definition in Colombo, Lusaka and Kitwe

Literature review aims at collecting secondary data. It was used to understand and define the geographic limit of the city region in Lusaka, Kitwe and Colombo.

Utrecht CRFS Boundaries options

This tool compares the various options and considerations that define the boundaries for the City Region Food System of Utrecht.