Document Type

AFSUN Urban Food Security Series

Publication Date



Balsillie School of International Affairs


The number of people living in urban areas is rising rapidly in Southern Africa. By mid-century, the region is expected to be 60% urban. Rapid urbanization is leading to growing food insecurity in the region’s towns and cities. This paper presents the results of the first ever regional study of the prevalence of food insecurity in Southern Africa. The AFSUN food security household survey was conducted simultaneously in 2008-9 in 11 cities in 8 SADC countries. The results confirm high levels of food insecurity amongst the urban poor in terms of food availability, accessibility, reliability and dietary diversity. The survey provides important insights into the causes of food insecurity and the kinds of households that are most vulnerable to food insecurity. It also shows the heavy reliance of the urban poor on informal food sources and the growing importance of supermarket chains.