It’s been 10 years since humanity passed a critical milestone in its relationship with nature. A decade ago, the UN declared that, for the first time in history, more than half of us live in cities and urban environments, and the trend from rural to built-up living was destined to continue. By 2030, more than 60% of us will live in cities – and as the numbers are already closer to 75% in developed countries, most of that change (over 90%) will be in developing countries.
In South Africa, we’re already ahead of the curve; over 60% of the population live in urban areas, and the number is increasing rapidly.
In principle, urbanisation and a rising middle class should be synonymous with better access to quality food, because denser population areas are easier to service than spread-out, rural areas. But the reality is often different.
A study by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) found that the second-highest percentage of those experiencing hunger in South Africa live in informal urban settlements (32.4%). Slum dwelling and poverty put obvious restraints on food security, but living in a formal urban centre doesn’t automatically improve things either.
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