Meeting the urban challenge? Urban agriculture and food security in post-conflict Freetown, Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone has recently emerged from a long period of political instability and is ranked among the world's poorest countries. During the decade-long civil war of the 1990s, widespread forced out-migration left much of the countryside abandoned, as rural residents fled to the safety of the capital city, Freetown. Consequently, food production became severely dislocated and, in the post-conflict era, the state of the agricultural sector has become a major concern to governmental and non-governmental development agencies. Focussing on the question of urban food security in Freetown, this paper examines the incidence, dynamics and significance of urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) among households, at a crucial point in Sierra Leone's post-conflict reconstruction phase. Drawing on recent field-based data, the paper contributes to the growing debate concerning how urban planning and development might be reconciled with the promotion of an ‘enabling environment’ in which UPA is encouraged and supported. It is argued that in the case of Freetown, a detailed evaluation of UPA is urgently needed to determine how agricultural activities can fit in with urban structure, urban problems and the livelihoods of a wide range of actors in and around the city. The paper concludes that not only is UPA a vital element in ensuring household food security, but it could potentially play a fundamental role in safeguarding the urban food continuum and promoting sustainable urbanization in the post-conflict period and beyond. âº An analysis of urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) in post-conflict Freetown. âº During the war internally displaced persons put pressure on city food security. âº The paper uses a multi-method approach to study UPA in post-conflict Freetown. âº A farmer survey found cultivation is key income source, but much land pressure. âº Cultivation associations are important to urban farmers, especially young farmers.