Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)

Founded in 1995 at the University of the Western Cape, in Cape Town, South Africa, PLAAS has developed a proven track record of high-quality research on land reform, poverty and natural resource management in the Southern African region. PLAAS also undertakes training, provides advisory, facilitation and evaluation services and is active in the field of national policy development. http://www.plaas.org.za/

Library Articles

Informal Sector's Role in Food Security A Missing Link in Policy Debates

"This paper aims to review what is currently known about the role played by the informal sector in general and informal retailers in particular, in the accessibility of food in South Africa. The review seeks to identify policy relevant research gaps. Drawing on Statistics South Africa data, we show that the informal sector is an important source of employment, dominated by informal trade...

Lusaka's Local Food Geographies A Gendered Reading of Every Day Food Insecurity in Mtendere, Lusaka

"Little is known about how individual abilities and food security determinants - at the scale of everyday life - connect to formal and informal value chains, and broader urban structural systems in which daily processes are embedded. Structural inequalities in urban systems make it difficult to translate economic development into improved food security at different city, household or...

Local Food Geographies The Nature and Extent of Food Insecurity in South Africa

"Food insecurity is a challenge for most countries in the Global South. South Africa is no exception - a significant proportion of its population still remains in poverty and is therefore vulnerable to food insecurity. This paper argues that although South Africa is food secure at national level, such security is only true of caloric and not nutrient requirements. A section of the country...

Understanding South African Food and Agricultural Policy Implications for Agri-Food Value Chains, Regulation and Formal and Informal Livelihoods

"In order to create credibility and sustainability between policies, to avoid political confusion and to reassure “investor confidence”, a clear agri-food policy package needs to be in place. To achieve this, policy packages should be constructed to give coherence, with an explicit goal and set of objectives, underscoring accountability to delivery. Considering current policy debates, the...

Deflating the Fallacy of Food Deserts Local Food Geographies in Orange Farm and Inner City Johannesburg

"The availability and accessibility of food is constrained by the environments where people live, work and purchase goods, and the pathways which they use to traverse these. This recognition has given rise to innovative conceptual frameworks including “food environments” and “food deserts”. These concepts add a spatial dimension to food security research that could inform food systems...

Saving Africa's Vanishing Wildlife: How Civil Society can Help Turn the Tide

"Conservation in Africa is failing. An upsurge in poaching and wildlife trafficking has made headlines, but comparatively little attention has been paid to the wider, systematic decline of many large mammal populations across large areas.1 There are many underlying drivers of this decline, but poor wildlife governance is a common, critical factor.2 Strong local and national civil society...

Foodways of the Poor in South Africa How Value-Chain Consolidation, Poverty and Cultures of Consumption Feed Each Other

"South African food systems are in a dynamic process of transition due to changes in food value chain regimes which have major impacts on the poor. However, these transitions are also shaped by demandside drivers emerging from the 'foodways of the poor' - the ways poor people access food, what kinds of food they purchase, how they are consumed, and the culturally-conditioned...

Systematic Review of Literature on 'Informal Economy' and 'Food Security' South Africa 2009 - 2014

"Despite the importance of the informal food economy in fulfilling the daily and weekly food needs of a large proportion of South Africa’s low-income population, it appears little research exists on the exact nature of the relationship between the informal food economy and food security. This paper performed the first qualitative systematic review of research from South Africa that addresses...

Food Environments, Health and Nutrition in South Africa Mapping the Research and Policy Terrain

"The aim of this paper was to review existing research and policies related to food environments so as to identify research gaps towards a research agenda for the new Centre of Excellence in Food Security. Food environments influence food choices and nutritional status. Significant changes have taken place in the South African consumer food environments since the mid-1990s accompanied by...

Alternative Food Networks and Food Insecurity in South Africa

"Food security remains a persistent global challenge. Inequality means that food insecurity is disproportionately experienced. Despite positive shifts in the state of food security at a global scale, recent reports from the Food and Agricultural Organisation suggest that in Africa the total number of undernourished people continues to increase. The paper argues that there is a certain “...

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