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Urbanization is transforming agrifood systems across the rural–urban continuum creating challenges and opportunities to access affordable healthy diets

Background paper for The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2023












de Bruin, S. & Holleman, C. 2023. Urbanization is transforming agrifood systems across the rural–urban continuum creating challenges and opportunities to access affordable healthy diets – Background paper for The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2023. FAO Agricultural Development Economics Working Paper, 23-08. Rome, FAO.



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    Analysis of food demand and supply across the rural–urban continuum for selected countries in Africa
    Background paper for The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2023
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    This background paper to The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2023 analyses a key element of agrifood systems transformation: the change of patterns in food supply and demand. Several studies have discussed this topic, but the current one takes an innovative perspective of analysis, considering these changes with a spatial perspective using the urban rural catchment areas (URCA) approach to analyse changes in food expenditure across the rural–urban continuum, using Living Standards Measurement Studies (LSMS) of 11 African countries. The analysis is preceded by a literature review of agrifood value chains transformation stages, drivers and current situation, focused in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), and is followed by a macro review of food supply around the world and a “macro-meso” review of the supply of wheat and rice in two African countries. The conclusions shows that most food is purchased in all households across the rural–urban continuum, even in rural areas, breaking with the “myth” of rural subsistence farming in Africa. In addition, the results show a diffusion of the consumption of processed foods, including in a lesser extent highly processed foods, all across the rural–urban continuum, and not only in rural areas. From a food supply perspective, the low global availability of foods that are part of a healthy diet, as fruits, vegetables and legumes, nuts and seeds calls for increasing efforts for producing more nutritious foods in all countries of the world.
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    Variations in the subnational cost and affordability of a healthy diet for selected countries in Africa
    Background paper for The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2023
    2023
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    This background paper to The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2023 presents an innovative analysis of within-country variability of the cost and affordability of a healthy diet (CoAHD). The study uses an innovative spatial perspective by analysing the changes along the urban–rural catchment areas (URCA) and using the Living Standards Measurement Studies (LSMS) of 11 African countries. The results show that the cost of a healthy diet in peri-urban areas is lower than it is in urban areas, but the percentage of the population unable to afford a healthy diet is always higher in the surroundings of urban centres. The gap is particularly large between small cities and their surrounding areas, and the share of population unable to secure a healthy diet is disproportionally high in the more remote rural areas. The paper also investigates three methodological issues that were encountered during the analysis to provide evidence on the validity of the FAO Healthy Diet Basket (HDB) methodology for the estimation of subnational cost and affordability of a healthy diet.
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    Methods and options to monitor the cost and affordability of a healthy diet globally
    Background paper for The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022
    2022
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    FAO is focusing its attention on the pursuit of healthy diets and transformations of agrifood systems to ensure healthy diets are affordable for all. Measuring and systematically monitoring the cost and affordability of healthy diets and making progress towards ensuring the affordability of healthy diets is of upmost importance and is urgently needed. To this end, FAO is committed to institutionalize the computation of the least-cost healthy diet, and the corresponding affordability indicator, and to publish updated estimates in the annual The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report, as well as provide the full data series on FAOSTAT. This background paper to The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022 report presents the new methodological refinements applied in the estimation of the average cost of a healthy diet. This is an important methodological update as it results in a more robust indicator that provides greater transparency and supports long-term systematic monitoring utilizing annually updated price data. The paper then explores potential mechanisms and data sources for monitoring globally the cost of a healthy diet.

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