Feeding Hungry Cities: Southern Africa Speaks on Food Security


Have you ever wondered where your food comes from? Really thought about the journey from field to fork? For the Africa Food Security Urban network (AFSUN) CMFD Productions has embarked on an exciting series of radio documentaries and short dramas to chronicle the complex issues of how cities in Southern Africa feed themselves. While the global food agenda often focuses on rural agricultural development when it comes to discussions on food security, Southern Africa is one of the fastest urbanizing regions in the world – more people are living in cities, yet the concept of urban food security is largely left off the table.

All across the region, consumers are finding their food budgets severely stretched, and we are sure that this topic is of great importance to your listeners. The 10 part documentary series and short radio drama were produced by CMFD Productions for the African Food Security Urban Network, as part of on-going work to ensure that the issue stays in the public spotlight. The package we are providing to stations includes:

  • 2 disc set of the 10 part radio documentary series
  • A 20 minute radio drama – available in English, Portuguese, Zulu, Xhosa, Shona, and Nyanja
  • Original theme music and promotional trailers
  • A presenters guide leaflet with discussion ideas
  • Posters

Access the “Feeding Hungry Cities” trailer from CMFD Productions.

Read more about the “Feeding Hungry Cities” series at CMFD Productions.

Full Text

The Documentaries

(Click here to read more about the Radio Drama, Trading places)

1: The Invisible Crisis: Urban Food Security in Southern
In the 21st Century, the question of where the next meal is going to come from is a reality for many. The problem of food insecurity is often mistakenly seen as only a rural problem, yet rapid urbanisation is contributing to more and more food pressures on cities. The rising costs of food and other essentials, such as electricity and water, means 4 out of 5 households are moderately or severely food insecure, according to research. Strategies must be implemented to alleviate this problem.

2: Making ends meet: In pursuit of food security
Over half of all people in the world now live in urban areas. In these growing cities, shelves and bins in supermarkets groan with fresh and processed foodstuffs, while on their doorstep poor households are unable to access enough staples to feed themselves more than once a day. Food may be more plentiful and more diverse in the city than rural locations, but it is far from being equally accessible. In this edition correspondents in Lesotho, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Malawi speak to families about their struggles and strategies for food security.

3: Where Does Food Come From?
For millions of people living in Southern Africa’s cities, putting food on the table is part of a complex web of sellers, distributors and vendors. In Southern Africa, big agri-business and international supermarkets operate alongside informal and street side traders. Understanding how cities are fed – where this food comes from, how it gets to the consumer, and who is buying where – is vital to planning for the increasing food demands of cities. This edition sets out to find out where urban consumers get their food.

4: Supermarkets
All across Southern Africa, supermarkets are popping up in new neighbourhoods at an unprecedented rate. On the one hand, the spread of supermarkets could offer consumers more choices, while also translating larger purchasing power into cheaper prices. On the other hand, the growth of big business can also be the ruin of small and medium size farms and smallholder producers. These shelves bursting with stock – just where does it all come from? This episode of looks at the business of supermarkets in the region.

5: Food Across Borders
Southern Africa sees a large amount of food cross its borders, formal and informal trade. Cross border trade is big business; according to research over 40% of people crossing the border do so for trade purposes. At the same time, migrants also find themselves in the position of sending food or cash for food home. This episode looks at food security and the migration of informal traders across borders

6: Nutrition: the Double Burden
Despite decades of interventions, Southern Africa still faces widespread malnutrition, especially among children. However, while many do not have enough to eat, rapid urbanisation and changing diets are now producing a second ‘silent emergency’ – over nutrition or obesity. For people living with HIV, it is very important to eat nutritious food but lost income can also affect purchasing power. This edition looks at the double burden of under-nutrition and over nutrition, and the threat to the region’s health.

7: Stretched Households: Informal Food Transfers, Remittances and Food Security
Many families in Southern Africa rely on each other for cash and food when times are tough. Whether the extended family is across a border, or living in another part of the country, few urban dwellers would dream of returning home for the holidays or a weekend visit empty handed. Many people in the city also enjoy the fruits of their rural family’s agricultural labour, at least every once in a while. This episode looks at how households are stretched across the urban – rural divide, and the importance of remittances and informal food transfers to food security in the region.

8: HIV and Food Security
Southern Africa is greatly affected by HIV and AIDS, with the highest prevalence rates found in urban areas. Despite the large numbers of urban people struggling with both poverty and HIV, very little is understood about the link between HIV and food security in cities. It is of utmost importance that people living with HIV/AIDS eat healthy and nutritious food, while families struggling with caring for an AIDS affected family member may have reduced income. This episode of looks at the interconnection between HIV/AIDS and urban food security

9: Food Waste and Re-distribution
In most African cities, there is enough food available to feed everyone. In fact, while some go hungry – in other corners food is wasted. In wealthier homes, leftovers from yesterday’s meals stay in the fridge until they are no longer edible. More worryingly, large superstores regularly dispose of food that’s gone past its sell by date. So with excess on one side, why then are so many going hungry? And how can we make the best use of all this food? This episode explores how food is being re-distributed, to help feed hungry stomachs, and how feeding schemes help many get by.

10: Urban Agriculture
In the 1980’s and 90’s, the focus on urban agriculture saw a rise in popularity of such phrases as “cities feeding people,” “hunger-proof cities,” ” “urban harvest.” However, research shows that in reality, a very small proportion of people living in cities grow food for themselves. Even fewer grow food for sale. This episode asks the question – what role is urban agriculture currently playing in the food security of Southern Africa’s rapidly urbanising towns and cities?

Presenter’s Guide

To complement the radio documentaries/ drama, a presenters guide will be developed to assist radio presenters to talk about the ideas raised through the two productions. The guide will provide tips on how to use both the drama and documentaries to raise awareness and encourage dialogue.

Radio Drama (Trading Places)

Serial Radio Dramas use entertainment education to convey messages and ideas, as well as change behaviours. Through stories and characters, issues around food security in urban settings – for example, the causes, impact and what communities and individuals can do – would be explored. In a drama, information is communicated and desired behaviours modeled by characters, i.e. a character who is an informal trader, faces food insecurity as people are buying her good less, – can show various aspects of food insecurity. The drama will be produced with characters representing different countries.



Publication Type Podcast
Publisher 2013
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