What’s to eat? Women, children and the urban food environment: the case of Addis Ababa

Last changed: 25 October 2023

Food and nutrition security is a cornerstone for achieving global sustainable development. In Africa’s rapidly growing cities, unemployment and widespread poverty currently leads to high levels of food and nutrition insecurity for a large share of the population. Undernutrition as well as overnutrition cause health related problems affecting individuals and society at large. In spite of these pressing challenges, the factors influencing the access to and consumption of food among urban people in low income countries, remain insufficiently studied and understood.

This project therefore has three integrated aims:

1. To map and analyse the urban food environment and its seasonal dynamics, focusing on the availability, affordability and safety of foods.

2. To evaluate social, economic and gender stratification of a) household food security b) accessibility to safe and nutritious foods in adolescents and young children c) health and nutrition in all household member.

3. To assess women’s empowerment and its implications for sustainable food and nutrition security of children and family.

The research builds on theories and methods from human geography, nutrition, agricultural sciences and sustainability science and employs a holistic perspective in an analysis of causal chains linking food availability with malnutrition. Central aspects in this analysis are the socio-economic differentiation and the importance of a woman’s empowerment for her ability to provide adequate care, including nutritious food for children and family. While taking into consideration seasonal dynamics, the availability and price of foods as well as the dietary patterns of the population of Addis Ababa will be assessed using qualitative and quantitative methods. Multidisciplinary analyses are expected to bring new knowledge about the linkages between availability, food and nutrition.

Results from the Addis Ababa study will be situated and analysed in a more general sub-continental and global context using data for several cities across sub-Saharan Africa which the research team has direct access to from previous related research projects and also through collaborations.


The project is funded by: Formas

Duration of the project: 2016-2020

Principal Investigator: Eva-Charlotte Ekström, Uppsala university

Other contributors: Magnus Jirström, Lund university; Beatrix Alsanius, SLU; Yemane Berhane, ACIPH