25 November 2012

Swaziland: Nation's Manzini Has Most Alarming Food Insecurity Levels

press release

Cape Town — Studies by the African Food Security Urban Network (AFSUN), led by University of Cape Town honorary Professor Jonathan Crush, have found that the urban poor in Manzini, Swaziland's economic hub, are more food insecure than people living in the poorest parts of other cities in Southern Africa.

Dr Nomcebo Simelane and Prof Daniel Tevera of the University of Swaziland, who led the Swaziland research in AFSUN's nine-country study of urban food insecurity, will discuss the findings at a Nov. 26-27 conference on "Migration, Urbanisation and Food Security in Cities of the Global South" at Cape Town's Protea Breakwater Lodge.

Prof Crush said that "a more national approach that covers both rural and urban areas will help Swaziland to move towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal to reduce hunger by 50%."

The findings demonstrate the need for urban policy and economic reforms in Africa's last monarchy.

"These findings demonstrate the plight of the poor in Swaziland and the need for reform, without which there is little chance of change in the lives of the people of Swaziland." Prof Crush said

The city closest in food insecurity scores to Manzini was Zimbabwe's Harare, which was in the midst of the worst economic crisis in its history at the time of the survey. Other cities in the 11-city survey include Cape Town, Johannesburg, Windhoek, Maseru, Maputo, Blantyre and Lusaka.

Included in AFSUN's policy recommendations to deal with food security challenges in the poor urban areas of Swaziland is that the government should target urban households specifically in addition to its focus on poverty in rural areas.

Prof Tevera said, "Because households that are severely food insecure tend to be large, female-headed and female-centred, and have a narrow range of livelihood strategies, it is vital for policies that address urban food security to appreciate the complex relationship between household food security and a range of variables such as income, gender and household size."

Food security also needs to be viewed through a lens of migration, Prof Crush said, noting that there is a disconnect between these issues in global policy arenas, which ignores the reality that migrants make up the majority of the poorest households in Southern African cities.

The Nov. 26-27 conference is hosted by the AFSUN, the African Centre for Cities, the Southern African Migration Programme, the International Migration Research Centre (IMRC), the Municipal Development Partnership and the International Metropolis Project.

Speakers will include Prof Crush, CIGI Chair in Global Migration and Development, Balsillie School of International Affairs and Honorary Professor, University of Cape Town, on the disconnect between migration and food security in global policy making, and Dr Margaret Walton-Roberts, IMRC Director, on the influence of migrants' remittances on nutrition.

Dr Jane Battersby of the University of Cape Town will present findings on the food security of households in Cape Town's Khayelitsha and Philippi that reflect on urbanisation in South Africa.

Migration and its connections with health and HIV and AIDS will also be discussed.

Experts on urban food security in India, China and the Caribbean will provide comparative perspectives.

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