Bringing Food Home: A Study on the Changing Nature of Household Interaction With Urban Food Markets in Accra, Ghana

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Aguda, Nathaniel D.
Urban Food Markets , Africa , Livelihoods
This dissertation explores the changing nature of food provisioning in the contemporary Third World city, employing the experience of Accra, Ghana, as a case study. The issue is studied by examining changes that are occurring within urban food markets, and how households are altering their food acquisition patterns in response to structural changes within the city. The investigation provides an in-depth analysis of the policy framework and socio-economic context for the delivery of, and access to, food in Accra, and probes the food situation as a window to investigate broader issues relating to poverty, livelihoods, and coping strategies within a Third World city. Data were collected from three markets and six residential neighbourhoods through focus group discussions and personal interviews. The investigation reveals that the food system has been altered by processes of transformation occurring in the city, with dire implication for access to food by the poor. The activities of traders in maintaining the urban food supply emphasize the dominance of individual initiatives in sustaining the city. The household surveys show that the level of direct engagement between households and the food market is waning, as households increasingly source their food from city’s various food outlets. This does not mean that food markets are losing their significance in the food supply chain. They remain the nexus between the source of supply (farmstead or port) and the urban household consumer. This case study indicates that urban economic restructuring is translated into the lives of residents by altering how people meet their needs. It illustrates how individuals and households adopt new ways of engaging their changing environment and navigating the landscape in order to survive. The coping strategies adopted highlight the resilience of vulnerable groups to this precarious urban landscape. These people are not passive victims to the constraints they face. Their responses to crisis make them active participants in the transformation of the city. The study concludes that understanding how the poor organize themselves to meet their challenges is key to understanding any interventions that are designed to tackle urban poverty or improve access to basic needs in the city.
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