urban food systems

An informal vendor selling fresh produce in Masiphumelele.

From lifestyle disease to food systems disease

Obesity among children in South Africa has increased from approximately 1 in 20 children in 2005, to  1 in 8 children in 2015. If we continue on this trajectory, it is estimated that at least 3 in 5 children will be obese by 2030. These were some of the shocking figures shared by Prof Rina […]

Masiphumelele for The Nourishing Child Project/African Centre for Cities UCT

New project investigates the double burden of malnutrition in South Africa

Gareth Haysom, Jane Battersby

Building on ACC’s continued work on urban food systems through projects such as The Hungry Cities Partnership, Consuming Urban Poverty, and Nourishing Spaces, The Nourished Child project explores the double burden of malnutrition in urban settings in the Western Cape, South Africa. The new project, funded by the UKRI’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Collective […]

Food Systems and Diet-Related NCDS in Cape Town, South Africa

Food Systems and Diet-Related NCDS in Cape Town, South Africa, by researcher Jo Hunter-Adams is the first in a series of Nourishing Spaces working papers edited by Jane Battersby. ABSTRACT The aim of this working paper is to offer insight into the lived experience of changing food systems and diet-related non-communicable disease (NCDs) in a […]

Food Dialogues

Food Dialogues is a free online programme on the local food system bringing together speakers involved in shaping the food system, hosted by the SA Urban Food & Farming Trust in partnership with African Centre for Cities, Oribi Village, the City of Cape Town, ICLEI and Derrick. The Covid-19 pandemic has rendered in stark relief […]

Supermarket shelves

Food purchasing behaviour of shoppers from different South African socio-economic communities: results from grocery receipts, intercept surveys and in-supermarkets audits

Jane Battersby

ABSTRACT Objective: To identify factors associated with food purchasing decisions and expenditure of South African supermarket shoppers across income levels. Design: Intercept surveys were conducted, grocery receipts collated and expenditure coded into categories, with each category calculated as percentage of the total expenditure. In-supermarket food quality audit and shelf space measurements of foods such as […]

Cover image of nourishing spaces policy brief

Urban Food Security in Kisumu in light of COVID19

Jane Battersby

ABSTRACT This policy brief is informed by the findings of two research projects done in Kisumu over the last four years: 1) the ESRC/DfID-funded ‘Governing Food Systems to Alleviate Poverty in Secondary Cities in Africa’ (Branded Consuming Urban Poverty); and 2) the IDRC-funded ‘Urban Food Systems Governance for Non-Communicable Diseases Prevention in Africa’ (Branded Nourishing […]

LAUNCH: 2020 Global Nutrition Report

Jane Battersby

The Global Nutrition Report, released on 12 May 2020, calls on governments, businesses and civil society to step up efforts to address malnutrition in all its forms and tackle injustices in food and health systems. (more…)

IN THE PRESS: Bloated bodies and barren lands

Warren Smit

What does obesity have to do with climate change? Quite a lot, according to an influential commission, which says the big food companies that make the junk food fuelling our expanding bodies are also destroying our environment — and need to be stopped. Humans have been getting steadily fatter over the past 30 years and […]

IN THE PRESS: Romantic visions of pastoral Africa won’t solve urban food insecurity

One of the greatest challenges facing Africa’s rapidly growing urban population is how to access sufficient, affordable and nutritious food. A pervasive rural bias that focuses on rural hunger and increased support of smallholder agriculture persists as the dominant feature of current thinking about food security policies. (more…)

IN THE PRESS: ‘Highly processed food is a form of pollution’

Science writer Leonie Joubert looks at food a little differently to most of us. In a number of publications over the last five years, Joubert has argued that our understanding of concepts like hunger, food security and nutrition is often a bit, well, nutty. From smug metropolitans who think obesity is a sign that people […]

IN THE PRESS: Tackling the ‘hungry season’ in Africa’s cities

Jane Battersby, Vanessa Watson

Filling the food gap in African cities isn’t about making sure there are more calories in circulation, but about understanding how poverty expresses itself through people’s relationship with food. If we don’t tackle the social, economic, political and geographic forces that shape people’s food choices, our cities will continue to leave many of our poorer […]

LAUNCH: ‘Tomatoes & Taxi Ranks: Running our Cities to Fill the Food Cap’

Join ACC for the Cape Town launch of Tomatoes & Taxi Ranks: Running our Cities to Fill the Food Gap, by Leonie Joubert with Jane Battersby and Vanessa Watson published by the African Centre for Cities on Wednesday, 21 November 2018, 17:30 for 18:00 at The Book Lounge, 71 Roeland Street, Cape Town. Author Leonie […]

IN THE PRESS: Taking food security to a wider audience

Jane Battersby, Vanessa Watson

With its engaging narrative style and striking images, Tomatoes & Taxi Ranks translates the fascinating findings of the CUP project into a digestible read accessible to an audience well beyond the borders of academia. One of the most challenging aspects of conducting academic studies is translating crucial findings for a wider audience. With the launch […]

Edgar Pieterse on ‘Tomatoes & Taxi Ranks’

Edgar Pieterse

African societies and economies are caught up in the intersection of at least five megatrends: population growth, urbanisation, climate change, migration, and the knot of food, water and energy insecurity. (more…)

Urban Food Systems Governance and Poverty in African Cities

As Africa urbanises and the focus of poverty shifts to urban centres, there is an imperative to address poverty in African cities. This is particularly the case in smaller cities, which are often the most rapidly urbanising, but the least able to cope with this growth. This book, a research output from the Consuming Urban […]

Follow Nourishing Spaces on YouTube

Nourishing Spaces, which was launched in June 2017, is an IDRC-funded research and advocacy project working on food security, food systems and governance in neighbourhoods in Cape Town and Kimberley (SA), Windhoek and Oshakati (Namibia), and Nairobi and Kisumu (Kenya). Ultimately, the project aims to support local governments and community stakeholders in each study site […]

Addressing food security in African cities

Jane Battersby, Vanessa Watson

In sub-Saharan Africa, the food system impacts on a number of urban development issues such as poverty, unemployment and poor health. Informal traders meet the food needs of many poor urban households. However, supermarket chains are changing this, demanding particular policy and planning responses, writes Jane Battersby and Vanessa Watson in their latest paper for Nature, […]

ACC researcher awarded

James Duminy

The African Centre for Cities (ACC) is pleased to announce that researcher James Duminy has been awarded the Joseph Arenow Prize for the best PhD thesis for 2017 in the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment (EBE), University of Cape Town.   His thesis, entitled ‘Scarcity, Government, Population: The Problem of Food in Colonial Kenya’, […]

Jane Battersby joins Global Nutrition Report’s group experts

Jane Battersby

ACC’s Jane Battersby is among the new members of the Global Nutrition Report‘s Independent Expert Group (IEG). The IEG members were selected to bring the right mix of expertise and fresh perspectives to the Global Nurtrition Report in 2018 and beyond. The IEG as a whole represents individual members’ expertise in research, programming, data and […]


ACC Senior Researcher honoured with the 2017 Premio Daniel Carasso

African Centre for Cities Senior Researcher, Dr Jane Battersby was honoured as the 2017 laureate of the Premio Daniel Carasso at a ceremony in Valencia, Spain on 18 May. The international prize, first presented in 2012 by the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation is awarded every two years in recognition of outstanding scientific research into […]

The Informal Economy’s Role in Feeding Cities – a Missing Link in Policy Debates?

Food is fundamental not only to well-being, but to our social and economic lives. Despite this, one of the biggest challenges facing many people in cities all over the world today is hunger. As cities rapidly urbanise, different pressures are placed on the food system which has resulted in the least nutritious food being the […]

Urban governance and urban food systems in Africa: Examining the linkages

Warren Smit

Urban food systems have increasingly been recognised as a topic that needs to be better understood, in order to address issues of urban food security and urban poverty. This is particularly so in Africa, which has high rates of urban population growth and high levels of urban food insecurity. There has, however, been surprisingly little work on examining […]