The rapid growth of cities in developing countries in recent years has given rise to wide-spread and increasing urban poverty, raising questions about how the urban poor cope with the special challenges they face. How do they earn their livelihoods? How does the urban environment affect food security and nutrition and the ability of the urban poor to care for their children? Which groups are most vulnerable, and what can be done to reduce vulnerability? Urban Livelihoods and Food and Nutrition Security in Greater Accra, Ghana, Research Report 112, offers a compelling case study of the impact of urban life on the livelihoods, food security, and nutritional status of the poor in Accra. The authors use a mix of qualitative information and detailed household data from a 1996-97 survey taken in Accra and its peri-urban areas to examine food consumption and employment and income, as well as hygiene practices, sanitation conditions, and practices related to the care and feeding of children to determine their contributions to malnutrition. The Accra Urban Food and Nutrition Study is a collaborative effort of the International Food Policy Research Institute, the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research in Accra, and the World Health Organization. This report provides an overall framework for analyzing the linkages between livelihood security, nutritional security, and factors such as income, women's labor, and child care practices. In the past, only a small share of the African population lived in cities. Today in Sub-Saharan Africa the urban population is approaching 40 percent of the total. In 1997 the population of greater Accra was roughly 2.4 million and growing by about 4.7 percent a year. Those living below the poverty line climbed from about 9 percent in 1987 to 23 percent in 1993. Copious research on the rural poor cannot be applied to urban dwellers because many of the problems they face are different. The urban poor live in a cash economy and purchase processed foods rather than growing their own. Livelihood opportunities are limited. Environmental conditions in cities can be a major constraint, particularly the level of crowding and poor sanitation. Informal safety nets to help the vulnerable such as kinship and community networks are different in urban areas.


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