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Doing things their way?: Food, farming and health in two Ugandan cities
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5516-1109
Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Climatic Sciences, School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8426-0736
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (Caes), Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.
Department of Urban & Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2441-3814
2018 (English)In: Cities and Health, ISSN 2374-8834, Vol. 1, no 2Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper presents new data on urban households’ agriculture, food environments and non-communicable disease (obesity, diabetes, hypertension) in two intermediate-sized Ugandan cities (Mbale and Mbarara). Nutrition transition theory suggests that fast-foods, eating out and supermarket shopping, together with sedentary urban lifestyles and less agricultural activity, are drivers of growing non-communicable disease burden. We explore these claims using statistics from a 2015 socio-economic and anthropometric survey of 1995 households. Results indicate that these cities are already experiencing non-communicable diseases, despite a lack of advanced food system and nutritional transitions. Surveyed households generally had low or medium dietary diversity, and a diet pattern and an agricultural practice primarily geared towards staple foods. Food transfers (mainly staples) from rural relatives were common, particularly for agricultural households. These farming households also had better income status than non-farming households. Experience of food insecurity was relatively common. Nevertheless, high prevalence and strongly gendered patterns of obesity were identified. In contrast to some theorising of the farming practice of urban-based households, there was little evidence that such agriculture was fuelled by poverty, vulnerability or migrant status. Findings also imply that there are other drivers of epidemiologic change in these cities than those suggested by nutrition transition theory.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2018. Vol. 1, no 2
Keywords [en]
urban health, urban food systems, Uganda, dietary diversity, nutrition transition, epidemiological transition
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-144030DOI: 10.1080/23748834.2017.1414425Local ID: 881251OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-144030DiVA, id: diva2:1175522
Projects
Agriculture and Double Burden Malnutrition in Urban Africa
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 250-2014-1227Available from: 2018-01-18 Created: 2018-01-18 Last updated: 2019-04-23Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Food, farming and health in Ugandan secondary cities
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Food, farming and health in Ugandan secondary cities
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This research contributes to countering a large city research bias by focusing on the food, farming and health experiences of two secondary cities of Uganda: Mbale and Mbarara. It is not an apocalyptic story. Like anywhere in the world, for some residents things were going well; for others, less well. My research explores the varied geometries of advantage and disadvantage in diets, food security, and livelihood circumstances to shed light on why things were more secure for some than for others. I used multiple methods including a household survey, focus groups with local healthcare professionals, and in-depth interviews with varied city residents. A geographic perspective explored intersections of food, farming and health with aspects of identity (such as gender, class, tribe), and with place (the city itself, but also with rural areas, or other urban areas).

The starting point was the theorised food system, nutritional and epidemiologic transitions predicted to occur with urban development, often called nutrition transition theory. My research suggests caution with dominant models of how urban life shifts food and farming systems towards a food system and diet pattern focused around large retailer supermarkets, processed foods, fast foods, more meat, less agriculture, less movement. Nutrition transition theory postulates these changes causing a shift in epidemiology from infectious to non-infectious diseases in urban areas. Instead of the suggestion from nutrition transition theory, my work presents evidence of non-communicable disease (obesity, diabetes, hypertension) experience in Mbale and Mbarara’s residents, but without evidence of advanced change in food and farming systems. Findings revealed relatively low dietary diversities and common food insecurity. Diets remained predominantly traditional, as did the main food sources (traditional markets and neighbourhood shops), across diverse residents. The more food secure had regular salaried employment and strong relational links with rural farms and family, supporting work on multi-spatial livelihoods. This contrasts with earlier ideas of who farms the African city, or retains farming livelihoods. Most vulnerable to food insecurity and low diet diversity were those who were most dependent on purchasing all their food. In conclusion, this research suggests that food system, nutritional and epidemiologic transitions in Mbale and Mbarara may be less linked than previously thought, or linked in more complex ways. Other drivers of epidemiologic change are likely. Findings highlight the importance of local data and specific city investigations.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå University, Department of Geography, 2019. p. 118
Series
GERUM, ISSN 1402-5205
Keywords
Uganda, Africa, urban, nutrition transition, agriculture, health, food systems, dietary diversity, food insecurity, non-communicable disease, double burden malnutrition, secondary cities, feminist geography, intersectionality, mixed methods
National Category
Social and Economic Geography Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-158306 (URN)978-91-7855-052-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-05-17, Hörsal S205, Samhällsvetarhuset, Umeå University, Umeå, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 250-2014-1227
Available from: 2019-04-26 Created: 2019-04-23 Last updated: 2019-04-25Bibliographically approved

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Mackay, HeatherMugagga, FrankChiwona-Karltun, Linley

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