Urban Food Agenda

Strategies for streamlining multi-level food system governance between local and national government in Senegal


In 2021, FAO, ICLEI and partners organised 26 global independent dialogues as part of the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) process. The outcomes of the dialogues were instrumental for raising the voices of cities and local governments in global fora such as the UNFSS, COP26 and the Nutrition for Growth summit. Many cities expressed the need for establishing platforms that promote continuous dialogue and in-depth discussions around urban food systems. The Dialogues 2.0 project forms part of efforts such as the Urban Food Systems Coalition which are advancing multi-stakeholder engagements and dialogues that strive to support governments in implementing the pathways they shared as part of the UNFSS process.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Senegal experienced one of its greatest periods of economic growth (World Bank, 2022). Addressing food insecurity, poverty and unemployment remains a pertinent challenge for the government. The country’s cash-crop dominated food system has fortified its dependency on imports for meeting domestic food security needs. Furthermore, rapid demographic growth- and urbanisation rates are placing increasing pressure on urban food systems with almost half of Senegal’s population already living in cities. Progress in agricultural development, particularly amongst smallholder farmers, is further hampered by a strong dependency on rainfed agriculture, vulnerabilities to exogenous shocks (such as price fluctuations), inadequate targeting of public subsidies and agricultural development programmes and the slow pace of business development (Feed the Future, 2018).

Attaining food and nutrition security is a necessary condition for human survival as well as economic development. It is however a multi-dimensional phenomenon, affected by multiple factors including governance. Thus, both national and local governments, among other actors, play a critical role in shaping the nature of the food system which directly impacts food and nutrition security. A lack of integrated, multi-level governance exacerbates the challenges for developing more sustainable and resilient food systems for Senegalese cities. Horizontal- and vertical integration, accompanied by robust territorial (local) governance are crucial ingredients for streamlining cooperation for making and implementing decisions around poverty alleviation, service delivery and policy making. With food being a cross-cutting phenomena, it is of great importance for multi-level governance to be advanced for the development of more resilient and sustainable urban food systems that are capable of supporting livelihoods.

Engagements that form part of Dialogues 2.0 are therefore instrumental in sustaining the momentum that was generated in 2021 and will contribute to the implementation of concrete actions, strengthening networks and aligning efforts to develop more sustainable and resilient urban food systems. The food systems dialogues will engage with three countries in Africa (South Africa, Senegal and Kenya) and three South American countries (to be confirmed). Participating cities for Senegal were chosen through a consultative process with FAO and are as follows: Dakar, Kaffrine, Koungheul and Bambilor.

The overall objective of the project is to build and consolidate processes and mechanisms for promoting multi-stakeholder dialogues on urban food systems as part of the follow-up to UNFSS established in Africa and Latin America.