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Foodsheds and City Region Food Systems in Two West African Cities

Physical Geography, Institute of Environmental Social Sciences and Geography, University of Freiburg, 79085 Freiburg, Germany
International Water Management Institute, Battaramulla 10120, Sri Lanka
Organic Plant Production & Agroecosystems Research in the Tropics and Subtropics, Universität Kassel, 37213 Witzenhausen, Germany
Faculty of Agriculture, University for Development Studies, Tamale, Ghana
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Han Wiskerke
Sustainability 2016, 8(12), 1175;
Received: 17 August 2016 / Revised: 4 November 2016 / Accepted: 7 November 2016 / Published: 25 November 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue City Region Foodscapes)
PDF [35466 KB, uploaded 13 December 2016]


In response to changing urban food systems, short supply chains have been advocated to meet urban food needs while building more sustainable urban food systems. Despite an increasing interest in urban food supply and the flows of food from production to consumption, there is a lack of empirical studies and methodologies which systematically analyse the actual proportion and nutritional significance of local and regional food supplied to urban markets. The aim of this empirical study therefore was to compare the geographical sources supplying food to the urban population (“foodsheds”) in Tamale, Ghana and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, to record the supplied quantities and to assess the level of interaction between the sources and the respective city. The study was conducted over two years, covering the seasons of abundant and short supply, via traffic surveys on the access roads to the two cities, and in the Tamale markets, resulting altogether in more than 40,000 records of food flow. Results indicated that food sources were highly crop- and season-specific, ranging from one-dimensional to multi-dimensional foodsheds with diverse sources across seasons. Across the commodity-specific foodsheds, city region boundaries were established. Within the proposed city region a relatively large proportion of smallholders contributed to urban food supply, taking advantage of the proximity to urban markets. While food provided from within the city region offers certain place-based benefits, like the provision of fresh perishable crops, a larger geographical diversity of foodsheds appeared to enhance the resilience of urban food systems, such as against climate related production failures. View Full-Text
Keywords: urban food systems; foodsheds; city region food systems; food flows; urban food supply; spatial analysis; GIS mapping; climate change urban food systems; foodsheds; city region food systems; food flows; urban food supply; spatial analysis; GIS mapping; climate change

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Karg, H.; Drechsel, P.; Akoto-Danso, E.K.; Glaser, R.; Nyarko, G.; Buerkert, A. Foodsheds and City Region Food Systems in Two West African Cities. Sustainability 2016, 8, 1175.

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