Working Paper: Understanding the linkages between urban food systems and NDCs in Namibia

Understanding the linkages between urban food systems and NDCs in Namibia by researchers, Ndeyapo Nickanor, Tobias Shinyemba, Lawrence Kazembe, is the fourth in a series of Nourishing Spaces working papers edited by Jane Battersby.

Urban food systems in the Global South are undergoing major transformations (Von Braun, et al., 2008; Demmler, et al., 2017). These changing food systems are intersecting with urban poverty to produce new forms of urban food and nutrition insecurity (Battersby, 2013). Much of the research on urban food and nutrition security and changes in diet has been large-scale survey based. However, in order to understand the connections between non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and food systems, there is a need for qualitative data that examines the dialectic relationship between food systems and local conditions on consumption patterns. This working paper therefore seeks to offer insights into the lived experience of changing food systems and urban systems in relation to diet-related NCDs in two low-income neighbourhoods in Namibia. The paper argues that understanding the lived experience of changing food systems is central to understanding local contexts, a focal point for reducing incidence and improving experiences of diet-related NCDs, and a lever for action.

This analysis represents part of a broader three-year Nourishing Spaces study. Through a participatory research process engaging local government officials and community food system stakeholders, Nourishing Spaces analyses data on diet-related NCDs; conducts research on food systems, consumption and NCDs (and the relationships among them); and examines the governance arrangements underpinning existing dynamics. It seeks ultimately to present two policy and governance approaches to preventing NCDs – firstly to capacitate local government to develop interventions to create generative urban food systems, and secondly to test the viability of neighbourhood-centred Food Systems Committees. The Nourishing Spaces project sites are neighbourhoods in Cape Town and Kimberley (South Africa), Windhoek and Oshakati (Namibia), and Nairobi and Kisumu (Kenya). The choice of primary and secondary cities was motivated by differential rates of nutrition transition and food systems change across Africa, with South Africa being particularly far along in this transition.

This working paper examines the linkages between urban food systems and food consumption in 8ste Laan (Windhoek) and Evululuko (Oshakati) through analysis of interviews with households and focus groups. The interviews focused on a range of issues including food production and storage, preparation, cooking methods,