WFP USA

Innovations and Urbanization

The movement of people from rural areas to urban centers is happening all over the world. Ultimately, this shift in population leads to a condensed increase in the demand for food.

VouchersUltimately, this shift in population leads to a condensed increase in the demand for food. Many markets are unable to handle this change fast enough and the quality and quantity of food ends up decreasing. The only way to alleviate this rising food insecurity is for the United Nations, local governments and local organizations to all work together.  

This growing issue has inspired creative solutions from stakeholders. In February, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) launched a food voucher operation in Burkina Faso. In cities, food distribution is often difficult; with vouchers people can purchase their necessities (maize, cooking oil, sugar, salt and soap) from local vendors who have a contract with WFP rather than travel great distances to receive food. The added benefit of this system is that local merchants will then have steady income, ultimately improving the local economy.

Urbanization has forced people to be creative in food production as well. In Mathare, a slum in Nairobi, Kenya, locals have started the “farm-in-a-sack” project which yields crops in only a few weeks and takes up very little space.

The AfriGadget Blog highlights similar innovations in urban farming like the Keyhole Gardens in Lesotho and Vertical Farming in Kibera. These creative grassroots solutions, in addition to assistance from local governments, non-governmental organizations and international groups, are an important step in the fight against urban food insecurity.

More than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and as this map shows, this rate is going to grow substantially in the future.  These kinds of innovations in food distribution and cultivation, which improve access to food, will only become more critical as this population grows.

-Kate Stritzinger
Outreach Intern
Friends of WFP

Media Contact

Erin  Cochran
Communications Director
ecochran@wfpusa.org

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