Transforming a local food system to address food and nutrition insecurity in an urban informal settlement area: A study in Umlazi Township in Durban, South Africa

Xolile Mkhize, Bonginkosi Eric Mthembu , Carin Napier
Journal of Agriculture and Food Research

Informal settlements in South Africa are facing diverse challenges such as land inaccessibility for food production, poverty, unemployment, malnutrition, and climate change attributing to food insecurity. This paper considered income sources, employment status, household food budget, agricultural production, and anthropometrics as indicators in reviewing the status of this study area. Evaluating geographic dimensions of food accessibility and acceptability locally whilst subsequently determining measures that will promote viable land utilisation options as an intervention within this peri-urban township food environment, required a systematic approach. A general household survey measuring factors contributing to food access was used also evaluating production and consumption patterns of adaptable indigenous crops (n = 200 households). Anthropometric data measured body mass index (BMI) kg/m2 , waist circumference (WC) and waist to height ratio (WHtR) to determine levels of malnutrition and health risk factors. Supporting data included a survey from local street vendors and spaza shop owners (n = 25) to determine food items that were frequently accessible and consumed, then compared with the national urban food basket. Land ecotope data was collected to determine if the soil type/s, soil texture, and planting depth are appropriate for effective crop yields in the study area. Secondary data were sourced from the Geographic Information System (GIS) utilised by municipal services and national statistical data. The survey indicated that more than 67.0% of informal dwellers were unemployed and survived on a highly restricted household food budget (<US$115.1or R2000.00 per month) for a mean average of 3.2 people living in each household. Land accessibility for food production was restricted as 73% of households had no access to land for cultivation. Collaborative adaptation measures must include urgent demarcation and fence existing vacant municipal land for food production, involvement of nearby industries and schools for urban agriculture initiatives to improve food security and local economic development.


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This resource has been peer reviewed