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Question 6: FFP and Urban Hunger

Question 6: FFP and Urban Hunger

Posted by Patrick Coonan on 20 Aug 2014

During a plenary session at the TOPS/FSN Network Knowledge Sharing Meeting in July 2014, Susan Bradley of Food for Peace (FFP) asked the food security implementers in the room for their thoughts on key questions regarding the updating of the FFP Strategic Plan. This is the sixth question in that series. 

We welcome your thoughts and will be sharing your ideas directly with FFP. You can view the small group report out from the plenary session for this question by skipping to minute 52:55 of this recording.


FFP’s 2006-2010 strategic plan recognized the trend toward urbanization; however, it made clear that “increased urban poverty itself will not cause a structural reorientation of Title II activities away from rural areas if country-specific analyses of risks and vulnerabilities indicates that this is where the priorities still lie.”

Does this approach still hold?

FFP should deliberately also focus on urban hunger

Posted by ttarus on 26 Aug 2014

This approach no longer holds because as population and poverty urbanizes, so do disaster risks and humanitarian crises. The global assessment report on disaster risk reduction identifies urbanization as one of the three key drivers of future disaster risk. Whereas rapid and uncontrolled urbanization is constructing escalating risks, the number and vulnerability of at-risk populations are also rising. Haiti’s earthquake demonstrated that urban disasters’ scale and complexity defy humanitarian actors, with their accumulated experience in rural areas, to renovate their strategies and tools.

Poverty is the root cause of hunger in many countries and food security is one of the key development challenges yet it is often misleadingly seen as an issue that only affects rural populations. Urban food insecurity will grow, the developing world is continuing to urbanize, and the proportion and number of urban poor are increasing. Poverty reduction can be achieved in the medium-term, but in the short-term, people go hungry and young children become vulnerable to the short and longer-term consequences of under-nutrition.

Urban poverty and vulnerability are concentrated in slums. One billion people already live in slums (15% of the total of the worlds’ population of 7 billion); by 2030, this number will double. The United Nations Millennium Declaration articulates the commitment to improve the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020 – Target 11 of Goal No 7. This cannot be achieved if focus and priorities are still maintained in the rural set up. Furthermore, in the coming years, there are both rapid and slow onset urban emergencies predicted, which if neglected will result in mega catastrophic humanitarian crisis.

Therefore, there is need for a structural reorientation of Title II activities focusing on strengthening partners and states capacity to respond, to work hand in hand with development actors, utilizing skills that humanitarian agencies do not typically possess such as urban power analysis and governance skills, as well as strengthening urban risk analysis and disaster preparedness to ensure that meager resources are best organized over large and complex spaces.

Where are the Needs?

Posted by Gabrielle.Ben on 5 Sep 2014

We believe that Title II should continue to focus where the needs are; rural poverty still presents a significant need however FFP should not count out urban populations.

Increasing understanding

Posted by Greg Scarborough on 5 Sep 2014

It seems the question is essentially saying that FFP won't shift away from rural areas unless it is dictated by the country specfic context and evidence - makes perfect sense, go where the priorities are. However, will FFP go where the priorities are based on the mission statement? If so, and things truly are changing we need to be prepared to operate in urban areas more effectively and at a minimum start to focus on rural-urban linkages that are mutually beneficial - local food systems would be a perfect example of a space that could serve needs in both populations. Resources for the rural population can be programed to improve linkages to these urban centers and the needs there and offer a great opportunity for mutual interdependance of the populations which could offset some of the negative impacts of globalization on local markets.

including urban areas in the next strategy is essential

Posted by Emmet Murphy on 8 Dec 2014

Given growing urbanization, USAID FFP should consider a new emphasis on programming to support urban dwellers, especially in the poorest slums. Certainly, this is a departure from a rural focus that Title II programs generally implement, but increasing pressure on urban areas warrants such a shift.

One of the biggest problems related to working in urban areas concerns data. Generally, DHS reports show that malnutrition rates are lowest in the city, but this is measured for a very large population. It would be better to restructure the DHS to neighborhoods of cities to disaggregate poverty and malnutrition prevalence in the most vulnerable areas/quartiers. Such a dataset would allow those of us who prepare Food Security Country Frameworks (FSCF) to help USAID target food insecure areas within urban areas and throughout the country. If urban areas will be a new focus in the next strategy, we need more sophisticated studies which aggregate results from different parts of the city.

During an FSCF completed in June 2014 for FFP in Liberia, one key informant with the government in Monrovia noted that there should also be a comparable study to the DHS which analyzes livelihoods to provide greater insight and a stronger baseline.

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