My research uses food as a lens to try to understand the contemporary challenges (and opportunities) of African and Southern cities. While our research focus is urban food, our scope spans the urban landscape. Food provides a useful means to understand the connections (and dis-junctures) between the food system and other urban systems.

Urban food issues offer a useful means through which to understand pressing Southern urban questions around urban health, infrastructure, economic activity, informality, gender, governance and politics. Food therefore enables far greater multi-disciplinary research, enabling collaborations with a wide collection of urban researchers, activists and practitioners.

Nourishing Spaces works across six African Cities and explores interconnectedness of food systems and other systems, such as transportation, housing and sanitation as related to the rise of diet-related non-communicable diseases in urban areas with the aim to develop policy and governance approaches to prevent NCDs. The Hungry Cities Partnership links Canadian researchers with those from partner organisations in Cape Town, Kingston-Jamaica, Maputo, Bangalore, Mexico City, Nairobi and Nanjing. This inter-disciplinary research network focuses on urbanisation, food security, informality and inclusive growth in cities of the Global South.

I have been a researcher in the food systems research grouping at the Africa Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town since 2014. My work uses food as a lens to investigate the dramatic transitions taking place in African and Southern cities. This focus connects the different stands of my past professional and academic qualifications. I have worked in a number of sectors, holding executive and board positions in the private sector, worked in and held board positions in civil society organisations, and taught and carried out research in academia. I spent 15 years working in the private sector before returning to University in 2004.

My private sector work enabled a close examination of the food system, the functioning and power dynamics within food system value chains, and the operations of the food industry. My post graduate research, and later teaching, focused on finding ways to respond to the transitions taking place in society, particularly in Africa, with an explicit focus on the food system. I was privileged to be part of a team that developed the first sustainable food systems post graduate qualification at a South African university.

My PhD, at the University of Cape Town, allowed a deep dive into the question of urban food systems governance. This work laid the foundation for a far more detailed enquiry into the role of African and Southern cities in governing their urban food systems, despite city managers and politicians believing they have no food system mandate. This work continues. I am currently the LMIC project manager for the Hungry Cities Partnership and a work package leader in the Nourishing Spaces project.


Recent Publications

Book chapters

Haysom, G. (2017). Climate change, food and the city: Agency and urban scale food system networks, in Thomas-Hope, E. (ed). Climate Change and Food Security: Africa and the Caribbean, Routledge, London.

Haysom, G. (2016). Agro-ecological farming and soil rehabilitation, in Swilling, M., Musango, J. and Wkeford, J. (eds). Greening the South African Economy: Scoping issues, challenges and opportunities. UCT Press, Cape Town. pp 96 – 111.

Haysom, G. (2015). The Philippi Fresh Produce Market: Misunderstood Development?, in Brown-Luthango, M. (ed.). in State/Society Synergy in Philippi, Cape Town. African Centre for Cities. Cape Town.

Haysom G. (2015). Urban scale food system governance: An alternative response to the dominant paradigm?, in Allen, et al (eds). Untamed Urbanisms. Routledge, Oxon. pp 76-88.

Haysom, G. (2012). The Ithemba Farmer’s story of climate change and food security adaptation in Cpae Town, South Africa – Housing versus food?, in Frayne, B., Moser, C. and Ziervogel, G. (eds.). Climate Change, Assets and Food Security in Southern African Cities. Earthscan, London.

Haysom, G. and  Metelerkamp, L. (2012). Agriculture – From vulnerability to viability, in Swilling, M., et al (eds). Sustainable Stellenbosch, opening dialogues. SUNMedia, Stellenbosch.

Kelly, C., Schulschenk, J., Landman, A. and Haysom, G. (2012). Food – A sustainable system for Stellenbosch, in Swilling, et al (eds). Sustainable Stellenbosch, opening dialogues. SUNMedia, Stellenbosch.

Haysom, G. (2010). Urban Agriculture in the City of Cape Town, in Swilling, M. (ed). Sustaining Cape Town: Imagining a Livable City. Stellenbosch, SunMedia. pp 211-223

Ashley, C. and Haysom, G. (2008).  The development impacts of Tourism Supply Chains – increasing impact and decreasing our ignorance, in Spenceley, A. (ed), 2008.  Responsible Tourism: Tourism, Conservation and Poverty alleviation in Southern Africa. London, Earthscan

Journal Articles

Haysom, G. (2015). Food and the City: Urban Scale Food System Governance. Urban Forum, Vol. 26(3). pp 263-281.

(with Frayne, B., Battersby-Lennard, J., Fincham, R.), 2009. Urban Food Security in South Africa: Case study of Cape Town, Msunduzi and Johannesburg. Development Planning Division Working Paper Series, No.15, DBSA: Midrand.

(with Ashley, C.), 2006. From philanthropy to a different way of doing business: Strategies and challenges in integrating pro-poor approaches into tourism business. Development Southern Africa, Vol. 23: 2; pp 265 – 280.

Working Papers

Haysom, G. (2016). Alternative food networks and food insecurity in South Africa, Working Paper 33. Cape Town: PLAAS, UWC and Centre of Excellence on Food Security.

Skinner, C. and Haysom, G. (2016).     : A missing link in policy debates? Working Paper 44. Cape Town: PLAAS, UWC and Centre of Excellence on Food Security.

Battersby, J. and Haysom, G. (2016). Africa’s Urban Food and Nutrition Transition: A Call to Action. Consuming Urban Poverty Project Working Paper 1. Governing Food Systems to Alleviate Poverty in Secondary Cities in Africa Project. African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town.

Reports and media