Food security policy brief no. 2: reducing malnutrition in urban areas


15 January 2013

KIT has published its second policy brief on food security, part of a series of policy briefs reflecting on the Dutch government’s new policy on development cooperation.

‘Reducing malnutrition in urban areas: the challenge of identifying cost-effective and sustainable value chain interventions’ examines how value chains can be used to ensure the availability of affordable nutritious foods in the towns and cities.

Under and overnutrition in urban areas

Malnutrition, especially chronic malnutrition and a lack of vitamins and minerals, has barely declined over the past two decades in many countries of sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, overnutrition grew faster in these countries than elsewhere in the world. Both under and overnutrition are the result of an inadequate diet. The rapid growth of cities, and urban slums in particular, represent a huge challenge for the supply of food.

Targeted value chain development

The response described in this policy brief is to develop supply chains based on the needs of the consumer rather than the producer. This approach looks first at food consumption patterns of consumers before identifying opportunities to improve the food supply. And because women are in the majority at both ends of the chain – they are the ones purchasing food and to a large extent producing it – this approach also provides opportunities to strengthen the position of women.

Domestic versus export markets

KIT’s first policy brief, ‘Domestic versus export markets: challenging the holy grail’, questions why the Dutch government’s new policy places so much emphasis on the promotion on international, export-oriented food chains. Where is the evidence that this contributes to local food security? The policy brief recommends paying more attention to food production for domestic consumption. Forthcoming policy briefs will address other issues, such as monitoring food security interventions and improving the diet of women who are pregnant or lactating.

KIT is a knowledge centre specialized in practical solutions to complex development issues. Through the policy briefs, KIT aims to share practical insights with policy-makers and implementers, while stimulating public debate on development cooperation.