Lusaka’s local food geographies: A gendered reading of everyday food insecurity in Mtendere, Lusaka

By Frances Davies, August 2016

Little is known about how individual abilities and food security determinants - at the scale of everyday life - connect to formal and informal value chains, and broader urban structural systems in which daily processes are embedded. Structural inequalities in urban systems make it difficult to translate economic development into improved food security at different city, household or individual scales. Exploring current a-scalar and anti-urban food security policies and practice in Southern Africa, the paper argues that everyday food security strategies - which enable food access and sharing in food communities - are enmeshed in local food system structures. Everyday food strategies are a critical source of livelihoods and are also deeply relational processes, tied to power, identity and agency. The paper also looks at how contextualised food security outcomes are affected by place, space and negotiations of everyday life. The aim is to challenge narrow value chain theories that do not recognise the ‘other’ - currently invisible networks and interactions - in and between local food value chains, such as what and who constitutes value, and who holds the power to assign value in local food networks. The paper draws on a wide literature review and in-depth qualitative work conducted in Lusaka, Zambia. The paper concludes arguing that deeper nuances affect everyday food security outcomes, and this paper purposefully furthers the current (limited) conversation and empirical understanding of food security within value chains analysis.

Keywords: agency, gender, urban food security, informality, Zambia

Category: FOOD DISTRIBUTION