Coping with food poverty in cities: the case of urban agriculture in Glen Norah township in Harare

SOURCE: Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 8651
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/1928

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The focus of this study is on urban agriculture which is a common informal sector activity across most sub-Saharan African cities. Urban agriculture is more common among poor urban households, and acts as a poverty coping mechanism. Poor households often spend more than 60% of their income on food alone. The major thrust of this study was to understand the underlying mechanisms driving farming in cities. A mixed method research approach was adopted and data was collected from 103 households in Glen Norah Township in Harare, Zimbabwe through semi-structured interviews, questionnaires and observations. Arising from analysis of the data, the Urban Livelihoods Coping Model (ULCM) is proposed in order to explain the phenomenon of urban agriculture in African cities. This model acknowledges the fact that the socio-economic conditions and the socio-historical context of Zimbabwe and other African countries today is as a result of the influence of 'Western leaning' development policies influenced by modernization and associated theories. These theories combined with cultural factors and the impact of Structural Adjustment Policies resulted in the present situation where urban agriculture plays a critical role in the survival of the urban poor as a coping mechanism against food poverty. The ULCM ascribes the emergence of urban agriculture to necessity, ability and opportunity. The significance of this study is that it will contribute to understanding the socio-economic role of urban agriculture and how it can be factored into the urban planning systems of developing countries.