THE increased number in modern supermarkets and shopping malls in Zambia has deprived local residents of the much-needed access to local markets that sell relatively affordable and more nutritious foods, says CUTS International.
According to the CUTS’ newly-launched Lusaka Food Security Initiative, put together by the Lusaka Food Policy Council, local markets have been replaced by expensive supermarkets, which may not stock all the varieties of local foods with the same nutritional value.
The Initiative equally revealed that food consumption patterns in Zambia were poor and influenced by low food availability and accessibility.
“Although most markets in Zambia are informal, Lusaka has, in recent years, been experiencing centrifugation at very fast rates leading to a proliferation of supermarkets that in some cases tend to replace local markets. Unfortunately, the desire to build modern supermarkets and malls has in some cases happened at the expense of local township markets, which have tended to be replaced. The implication of this is that residents are deprived of the much-needed access to local markets that sell relatively affordable and more nutritious foods. These local markets are replaced by supermarkets that are relatively expensive and may not stock all the varieties of local foods with the same nutritional value. With this background, it would be good to have larger markets like Soweto at different in-lead roads of Lusaka that can help farmers, retailers, and consumers access nutritious and local foods much easier. The supermarkets that are replacing local markets also tends to stock imported foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, as the aggregation and supply chain system for these crops are not well developed,” the policy brief read.
However, a lack of adequate and regular income remained a major source of food and nutritional insecurity, according to the brief.
“About 79 per cent of residents in Lusaka live in low-income, high density areas. These households are the most adversely affected by food and nutritional insecurity. Further, seasonal variations in food supply and unstable pricing negatively impacts the food and nutritional security of low-income households. The major reason for food and nutritional insecurity for all socio-economic classes is a lack of adequate and regular income. Social safety nets (which include Social Cash Transfer and agriculture input support programmes) all seek to enhance food security, but seem poorly administered and are inadequate to curb high nutritional economic insecurity. Additionally, most interventions for the poor that can help curb food insecurities, including school feeding programmes, tend to target rural areas leaving the urban poor to face food insecurities. This means that most Lusaka residents are struggling to access food even when it is available in the markets as a result of high poverty levels,” the brief added.
“The policy notes that incomes for most Zambians have declined over the last two decades due to inflation, while prices of essential goods and services, including food, have risen and continue to do so. Rising unemployment in the country also means that people do not have access to regular earnings. This has affected people’s ability to procure food. For urban dwellers who must buy most of their food, urban food security depends mostly on whether the household can afford to buy food, given the high prices and low incomes. This concern implies that there is need to investigate food pricing in order to ensure citizens in rural and urban areas can have access to affordable food.”
And it stated that the food consumption patterns in Zambia were poor and influenced by low food availability and accessibility.
“The policy observes that food consumption patterns in Zambia are poor. Generally, there is a low frequency of food consumption of usually one to two meals per day, lack of variety in the diet, (about 70 per cent of the energy is from the staple maize) and consumption of low nutrient dense foods. The low consumption of food is influenced most by low food availability and accessibility. This situation means that there is more that needs to be done in order to improve food consumption patterns at national level,” stated the brief.
The Food Security Initiative is a policy document that highlights the challenges in the food system and provides solutions through its operational plan to be housed under the Lusaka City Council (LCC).