Urban Food Agenda

How to promote Sustainable Urban Food Systems in Intermediary Cities in Africa


During the recent Africities Summit, the High Level Session on 'Feeding Intermediary Cities' posed significant challenges related to Sustainability of urban food systems including food security and nutrition and the special role of intermediary cities in national and regional food systems.

The event took place on 18 May 2022, during the second day of Africities, in Kisumu, and it was organized by FAO and several partners: United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG); United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat); United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); RikoltoICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability - AfricaEspace de Co production des Offres Populaires pour l'environnement et le développemente en Afrique (ENDA- ECOPOP); RUAFCGIAR.  

Opening the Session, the Governor of Kiambu, Dr. James Karanja Nyoro, and the FAO Representative to Kenya, Amb. Carla Mucavi, emphasized the role of  urbanization for the immediate future of Africa.

African cities are currently plagued by different forms of malnutrition, and very high levels of food waste; so one of the most urgent issues of the urban communities is to implement food systems that are really sustainable.

Intermediary cities constitute the hub for “middle level” activities and services along the food chain (logistics, transport, collection points and wholesale markets) which connect rural areas and food production points to larger cities and consumption points both at national level and beyond. They can provide opportunities for migration to rural populations seeking employment, or they might represent a step before migrating to large cities.

Sustainability of food systems involves also tradeoffs: reducing the length of the food value chain by producing in urban and peri-urban areas would make food more accessible to urban populations. However, such options will be challenged by the competition for land and water by sprawling cities.  There are several entry points for the sustainable development of urban food systems such as improving nutrition, supporting access to sufficient nutritious foods to slum areas , food safety,  food loss and waste along the value chain increasing employment in the food system.

The panelists, including a number of representatives from government, civil society, academia, called for a more integrated approach, which needs to involve national and local governments.
Finally, the role of the latter is getting more recognition. It has been prioritized during the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), convened by the UN Secretary-General in September 2021, where a specific Urban Food Systems Coalition was established to promote coherent action on urban food systems and foster linkages between different levels of governments.

The Africities Summit shed light on the different challenges that urbanization poses to African cities, and possible solutions which to involve regional and national authorities and greater devolution of power to local authoritis.

To know more:

Africities - Newsletter 
Urban Food Agenda – FAO’s work in African Urban Food Systems (link)