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Institutional Responses to Decentralization, Urban Poverty, Food Shortages and Urban Agriculture

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Name of the Asset | Institutional Responses to Decentralization, Urban Poverty, Food Shortages and Urban Agriculture
Type of Asset | Working Paper
Date | November 2009


This paper is based on research conducted into the incidence of and support for the practice of urban agriculture (UA) in Zambia and South Africa undertaken in 2008 – 2009 and seeks to establish the degree to which UA can be regarded as a poverty-alleviation strategy and also the degree to which appropriate institutional support is already in place.

The research combined a review of relevant literature and policy documents pertaining to UA (global and in case study countries); a series of institutional interviews, primarily with the urban authorities in the eight case-study cities; and a series of questionnaire surveys undertaken with UA participants.

Results found that while UA is a key survival strategy in the two countries, the institutional response of decentralized government systems to UA is mixed. Over and above policy support, significantly greater levels of concrete action – such as ensuring land access, technical support, extension services and partnerships, NGO support to women and marketing support – will be required in both countries on the part of local institutions, if UA is to move beyond its current status as a marginal survival strategy.


  • Godfrey Hampwaye, Lecturer, University of Zambia
  • Lochner Marais, Director Centre for Development Studies
  • Etienne Nel, Dept of Geography, University of Otago, New Zealand
  • Chris M. Rogerson, Research Associate Centre for Development Studies
  • Alex Thornton, Dept. of Geography, University of New South Wales, Australia

Country and/or Region | South Africa and Zambia
Name of the Program | GDN’s Global Research Project, ‘Institutional Capacity Strengthening of African Public Policy Institutes to Support Inclusive Growth and the MDGs’
Funder(s) | The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Bureau for Development Policy (BDP) and Regional Bureau for Africa (RBA)

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