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Resources for improving food security

COVID-19 Responses Collection

Article image

Nosizo Sebake

12 June 2020

Mark Napier


uKESA Librarian

Information page

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

South Africa

This page forms part of the COVID-19 Responses Collection.


Here we present publications and tools to help address the issue of food insecurity.


Publications, articles and blog posts

  • Urban household food security and COVID-19 governance responses in South Africa - In this blog post, Caesar (2020) reflects on the 2018 General Household Survey, focusing on Cape Town, she observes that households in informal urban areas are among the most vulnerable to food insecurity in the country. She discusses the key drivers posed by the lock down due to the pandemic and identifies a number of lock down regulations directly affecting people’s ability to access affordable food.

  • Township food economies and urban food security -  This paper, part of the Township Economies Series, written by the Cities Support Programme (CSP) in 2018 highlights food insecurity as an important urban issue that requires solutions that are based on urban development strategies and policies. When well-thought out, the CSP states, these strategies have the potential to strengthen both social and economic development outcomes. This document is a resource that can be helpful in addressing this issue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Urban food systems and COVID-19: The role of cities and local governments in responding to the emergency - This policy brief "introduces some of the practices that cities around the world are already implementing and provides recommendations to support cities and local governments in ensuring food security and nutrition during and after the COVID-19 emergency." One short-term action includes the development of "capacities on mapping vulnerable people and their access to nutritious food, combining the knowledge of communities and local organizations (e.g. Slums Associations) with innovative ICTs for identifying those that are most in need and develop approaches that build on existing activities."

  • City Region Food Systems to cope with COVID-19 and other pandemic emergencies - Blay-Palmer, Halliday, Santini, Taguchi, van Veenhuizen (2020) discuss some of the COVID-19 responses, both short- and long-term, that have been proposed and debated by the food policy and planning community. They suggest that: 

    • "in the long term, the CRFS approach provides a participatory platform to define policies, interventions and mechanisms of territorial governance for food system transformation, reinforcing cooperation and collaboration among different local governments and other actors, which is one of the key elements to build resilience of the local food system to shocks, including pandemics, epidemics, and climate events."

  • Food Security and COVID-19 - In this frequently updated webpage, the World Bank (2020) summarizes the evolving agriculture and food situation exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also provides links to its own and other resources to support countries' and various organizations' efforts to keep agriculture safely running as an essential business, markets well supplied in affordable and nutritious food, and consumers still able to access and purchase food despite movement restrictions and income losses.

Decision support tools

  • City Region Food System Toolkit - The City Region Food System (CRFS) toolkit provides guidance on how cities can assess and build sustainable food systems within their regions. It includes support material on how they can define and map their city region; collect data on their city region food system; gather and analyze information on different CRFS components and sustainability dimensions through both rapid and in-depth assessments; and how to use a multi-stakeholder process to engage policymakers and other stakeholders in the design of more sustainable and resilient city-region food systems. The toolkit outlines the approach, techniques and tools used by seven cities that engaged in a CRFS assessment and planning process between 2015 and 2017. 

  • Mapping the invisible: The informal food economy of Cape Town -  In this report, Battersby, Marshak and Mngqibisa (2020) observe that existing policy frameworks intended to address food security and to govern the informal sector tend to neglect informal retail in the food system. They argue that the dynamics of the informal food retail sector need to be understood because of its vital role in ensuring greater access to food by the urban poor.

Photo Credit: Shayne Robinson

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