The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.
The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.

How the Urban Poor Define and Measure Food Insecurity and Nutrition

Research Partners:

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Principal Investigator: Cecilia Tacoli. Lead Organisation: International Institute for Env and Dev
Co-investigators: Somsook Boonyabancha; Anna Maria Walnycki; Alice Marin Sverdlik; David Satterthwaite
Urbanisation in low-income nations presents both opportunities and immense challenges. As urban centres grow rapidly, inadequate housing and the lack of basic infrastructure and services affect a large and growing proportion of their population. There is also a growing body of evidence on urban poverty and its links with environmental hazards. There is, however, limited knowledge of how these challenges affect the ways in which poor urban residents gain access to food and secure healthy and nutritious diets. There is also limited understanding of how different forms of conflict/fragility affect food security and nutrition of the urban poor. 

Poor communities usually have little voice but enormous and in-depth knowledge of their contexts, and of the priorities for action. And while local governments in low-income nations have a key role in reducing poverty and increasing environmental sustainability, they are typically under-resourced and unable to gather sufficient, timely and reliable data on rapidly changing contexts where urban growth and the erosion of natural resources overlap and can lead to conflict. 

Working with poor community organisations led by women in cities in Cambodia and Nepal, this project lets the poor themselves define and measure food security and nutrition using methods and tools that include the use of innovative but affordable technology. The collection of data and their analysis provides the groundwork for a dialogue that brings together grassroots organisations of the urban poor, local governments and other stakeholders. This, in turn, sets the basis for the co-production of solutions that respond to the needs of local low-income communities. At the same time, the knowledge developed informs global debates on policy that addresses the intersection of poverty, environmental sustainability and institutional fragility that can lead to conflict.

Grassroots organisations of the urban poor in Cambodia and Nepal will increase their capacity to gather and analyse data, and in so doing ensure that their voices are heard and influence the co-production of knowledge and innovative actions that respond to their needs.

Other Asian grassroots organisations that are members of the Asian Coalition of Housing Rights will benefit from exchanges with the focus countries partners; this will provide the basis for developing a large-scale proposal.

Local governments and other local stakeholders in the focus countries will benefit from detailed and reliable information enabling them to fill a considerable gap that has negative impacts on their effectiveness.

National governments in the focus countries and in the region will acquire knowledge essential to the achievement of the SDGs.

Academic researchers in the UK and in Asia will have access to new knowledge and will be exposed to innovative theoretical and methodological approaches to food security and nutrition.

Stakeholders in global policy debates - international and donor agencies, national governments...) will benefit from a more detailed understanding of the issue that opens the way to innovative and more effective interventions.

Local beneficiaries will be engaged through meetings and discussions at the city and country level, and dissemination through social media (blogs), interviews and briefing papers. 

Regional grassroots organisations will benefit from participating in networks supported by ACHR, where learning exchanges are a key activity. 

Academic researchers will be reached through publications (working papers and articles in peer-reviewed journals), and participation in conferences and seminars.

Stakeholders in global policy debates will be reached through publications (briefing papers) and presentation in global fora.

Primary theme: 
Grant Reference: 
Project Status: 
Grant Category: 
Research Grant
Fund Start Date: 
September 1st, 2017
Fund End Date: 
February 28th, 2019
Fund Currency Code: 
Fund Value: 
international relations
social policy
spatial planning
environmental planning