AN OPEN LETTER ON THE URGENT NEED FOR BUILDING RESILIENT URBAN FOOD SYSTEMS IN THE GLOBAL SOUTH

The COVID-19 pandemic has made obvious that public health includes all, emphasising the dire need to improve living conditions and secure basic necessities for the most vulnerable within our cities. For those living in informal settlements, standard disease prevention measures, like social distancing and hand-washing, can be impossible. Leading health experts have repeatedly highlighted the importance of good diet and exercise to build physical health and robust immune systems.

Modern food systems have been failing on many levels for decades; environmentally, socially, and economically. Now, fresh produce prices are doubling or tripling in a matter of weeks, with reports of empty stores juxtaposed with scenes of fresh food being dumped as supply chains falter.

Heavy reliance on emergency food parcels is unsustainable, and we are gravely concerned for food security in the coming months. While many of the urban rich have the space and resources to be able to plant 'victory gardens', the urban poor risk being left behind. In an effort to avoid the imminent global humanitarian crisis, we seek to urgently address the issue of urban food security in vulnerable areas across the Global South.

We propose the widespread construction of indoor, outdoor and rooftop garden plots, community gardens, greenhouses, and other appropriate forms of urban farming, in shared community spaces, alongside upcycling and food processing facilities to provide opportunities for packaging, storage and to reduce unnecessary food wastage.

Our tool to meet this challenge is a Food Security "Jugaad" - a Hindi term referring to a creative, non-conventional, frugal "hack": to innovate with meagre resources.

History is peppered with incredible examples of community-based food production helping people through difficult times. Victory gardens and Havana's huertos populares (popular gardens) are inspiring examples of what can be achieved. Many countries (Colombia to Senegal) and cities (Copenhagen to Singapore) are also placing great emphasis on building more resilient food systems.

'Upcycling food garden' design (Chris Jones, FeedingCities)

Rooftop gardens in Cairo, Egypt (Urban Organic Gardener, Cairo360, FAO)

Embedding food production into urban- and peri-urban areas is increasingly viewed as an essential part of building more sustainable, robust cities. While typologies and solutions may differ from city to city and country to country, the message is clear:

Healthy food system = Healthy economy, Healthy planet, Healthy population

Urban agriculture is a tool for regenerating urban communities. It generates its own economy, providing people with greater holistic value than unethical employment practices rife in the Global South. Urban agriculture spreads knowledge and awareness of urban food systems, new economic models, waste reduction, education linked to opportunity, etc. It is a regenerative opportunity - one that begets more opportunities.

The psychological benefits of community-building through gardening and food-growing can keep anxiety and depression at bay, while fostering societal trust and resilience that will outlast the pandemic.

We need to embrace this powerful tool - which has the potential to deliver inclusive, responsible, robust and resilient regeneration right where it is needed most.

Huertos populares in Havana, Cuba (Gapyear.com, Sistema TV)

Designs for community-based integrated facilities for micro-businesses, energy, water, food and waste managment
Rajasthan, India and Java, Indonesia (Chris Jones)

To accomplish this, we want to cooperate with land owners, municipalities, agricultural and horticultural organisations, utility suppliers, community organisations, education bodies and other key stakeholders, to join us in reaching out to vulnerable communities to help foster urban food security.

We have a core team with complementary skills and expertise to support this effort - and are in the process of engaging with our diverse networks of community representatives, local authorities, NGOs and influential international organisations.

Please share this open letter and contact us to discuss how we can build this network and work together. Find us on Instagram at @foodsecurityjugaad.

Let us use this critical opportunity to bring about Food Security Jugaad everywhere - and build healthy, thriving, local food systems that bring holistic benefits to all.

Sincerely,

Samantha Suppiah
Founder and Director
Urban Doughnut
urbandoughnut.asia
Maryam Manuel Salie
Founder and Director
Sandvlei United Community
Organization (Suco)
Cape Town, South Africa

 

Chris Jones
Founder
Feeding Cities
feedingcities.info
Diana Diaz Castro
Founder
Just Cities
just-cities.com

 

SIGNATORIES

Robert Griffith, Evolvement Pty Ltd, Sydney, Australia
Henry Gordon-Smith, Agritecture, Muscat, Oman
Sizwe Malinga, Cape Town, South Africa
Nadinè Galle, Green City Watch, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Balsam Madi, Balsam Madi Studio, Beirut, Lebanon
David Ceaser, Agritecture Consulting, New York, United States of America
Tes Myrie, Coastal Conservation League, Charleston, United States of America
Rio Pals, Organizer of the Urban Greenhouse Challenge, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Shane Ward, Action Ecology, Australia & New Zealand
Shiva Susarla, Circular Cities Asia, Singapore
Anthony Mirisciotta, GrowFood Carolina, Charleston, United States of America
Karlee Schnyder, RealFoodSystems.org, Geneva, Switzerland
Mark Horler, UK Urban AgriTech, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Sky Sheridan, SkyFarms.io, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Richard James, MacCowan Biomimicry Innovation Lab, York, United Kingdom
James Gleave, Mobility Lab UK, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom
Alexandra Groome Klement, nRhythm, Minneapolis, United States of America
Julián Andrés Guerrero Amaya, Colectivo Pentagrama TA, Bogotá, Colombia
Hoonie Lim, GreenieHoonie, Singapore
Mohammed Nazzer Hamzah, Cangkul Zen Pte Ltd, Singapore & Malaysia
Quentin Tiang, Quadrant Thoughts Incorporated, Singapore
Jenny Ng, Conrad Maintenance Services, Singapore
Violet Lee, Singapore
Mary Dellenbaugh-Losse, Freelance Expert for Inclusive, Co-Produced Cities, Berlin, Germany
Chloe Colclough, Devore, Verbier, Switzerland
Raphael David, smart2city, Gateshead, United Kingdom
Floyd Kerry Babb, Paradise Group, New York, United States of America
Peter Shivute, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
Ryland Engelhart, Kiss the Ground, Los Angeles, United States of America
Ashleigh Brown, Ecosystem Restoration Camps, Derbyshire, United Kingdom
Rob Greenfield, Florida, United States of America
Carlos Alvarez-Pereira, Club of Rome, Madrid, Spain
Colin Steley, Stratcon Asia, Manila, Philippines
Kerryn Higgs, University of Tasmania, Northern NSW, Australia
Jabez Joshua Flores, Permaculture Research PH and the Philippine Permaculture Association, Los
Banos, Laguna, Philippines
Francesco Pomponi, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Nicolás Palacios, Independent researcher, Copenhagen, Denmark
Nupur Prothi Khanna, Beyond Built, Stockholm, Sweden
Alexander Bower, Manchester, United Kingdom
Dora Isabel Pereira Rebola, One for All, Barcelona, Spain
Laara Copley-Smith, Laara Copley-Smith Gardens, Surrey, United Kingdom
Dawna Jones, Insight Out Consulting Inc., West Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Roland Moreau, Club of Rome - EU Chapter, Brussels, Belgium
William J Mathias Jr, Perkasie, PA, United States
Alexandre Lemille, The Circular Humansphere, Lille, France

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