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Insights and opportunities for equitable food systems: Urban lockdown lessons

The coronavirus pandemic has been a warning bell for urban resilience in South Africa. South African municipalities are facing unprecedented challenges in the face of Covid-19. On the one hand, municipalities have been at the forefront of dealing with the immediate effects of the pandemic. On the other, they are facing additional and unexpected expenditure on public health responses, declining revenues due to the economic slowdown induced by lockdowns and restrictions to manage the spread of the virus, and reduced transfers from the national government.

The pandemic has also brought urban food systems into sharp focus as well as pandemic-related challenges to managing public transport in our spatially unequal cities. More positively, it has afforded us an opportunity to think differently about our cities and towns and planning for their future resilience, spotlighting solutions that can support an equitable and green recovery.

This report focuses on the sphere of local government, which in South Africa has no discrete formal mandate to address food-security issues. It is a first attempt to assist local governments in developing a coordinated and equitable approach to optimising food systems, by providing a snapshot of the difficulties that come with this “absent policy mandate” for urban responses towards the current and future impacts of global climate change on our urban food systems.

The report also sketches the impact of Covid-19 on urban food systems, zones in on issues of equity in a climate-compromised world, highlights the features of the urban geography, food-system governance, and the importance of municipal mandates. It concludes with a set of recommendations for consideration within local governments and broader policy change.

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Lockdown lessons: Insights and opportunities for equitable food systems

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