Food is one of the most important links between rural and urban areas especially in Africa. Taking a food system approach, this panel aims at looking at institutions that manage these rural-urban food links and their social, political, cultural, economic and ecological effects in both areas.
The growing urban population in Africa demands for increased food availability in cities. Food is globally, but especially in African contexts, one of the most important links between rural and urban areas. Through a food system approach that encompasses various dimensions of rural-urban food links, this panel aims at looking at formal and informal institutions, as rules of the game, that manage these links and their social, political, cultural, economic and ecological and gendered impacts in both areas. The sustainability of food systems is an emerging field of research. Studies analyse how actors, institutions, knowledge, and power relations regulate access to natural resources and their use, as well as how natural resources are transformed into food flows, from input supply to production, consumption, and beyond. Different kind of food system exist, such as agro-industrial, local or regional as well as differentiated quality food systems. Looking at impacts of different food systems that aim at satisfying the increased demand for food in African cities, their outcomes can be assessed against principles of food sustainability, such as food security, realization of the right to food, social-ecological resilience, avoidance of harmful environmental impacts, and reduction of poverty and inequality. As such, this panel aims at addressing the question of how food system do or should look like to be able to satisfy the increased demand for food in African cities in a sustainable way.