City Without Choice: Urban Food Insecurity in Msunduzi, South Africa

Type Journal Article - Urban Forum
Title City Without Choice: Urban Food Insecurity in Msunduzi, South Africa
Volume 25
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
Page numbers 165-175
The official moniker of the city of Msunduzi in Kwazulu-Natal is “city of
choice.” The economic revival of Msunduzi over the past decade has been driven by
the influx of capital to a city that claims to offer significant advantages to the investor.
This paper examines whether this marketing ploy has enlarged the choices of the poorer
residents of the city, with particular regard to their food security. Using data from the
2008–2009 African Food Security Urban Network (AFSUN) baseline survey, the paper
shows that Msunduzi’s residents experience higher levels of food insecurity than like
neighbourhoods in Cape Town and Johannesburg and many other cities in the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) region. Unlike a number of these cities, the
food sourcing strategies of households are severely constrained. Urban agriculture and
rural–urban food transfers are limited, and the informal food economy is much less
significant than elsewhere. The control of the urban food system largely rests in the
hands of supermarkets whose location and pricing policies put quality food outside the
reach of most poor households. Although many are forced to buy supermarket food,
through lack of choice, food shortages and a lack of dietary diversity are endemic.
Worst off are female-headed households whose levels of unemployment are higher than
average and whose incomes are lower than average

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