Increasing food security and community development in Ethekweni through urban agriculture : an evaluative case study of Cato Manor.
Banks, Wade Cameron.
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The world’s population continues to grow exponentially along with the share of the population living in urban areas. In 2014, there were 7,176,023,055 people living on the planet. Current demographic estimates indicate that by the year 2050 this figure would have grown to 9,376,416,975 persons (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, International Database). The idea of the megalopolis or multi-city conurbation, which has been considered science fiction in the decade of the 1970s, is a potential challenge faced by town planners today. More than half of all people on earth now live in cities or urban settlements. These cities require vast land cover and massive amounts of resources to function. This trend poses the question, if more and more people are living in urban areas, at what point will there be too few farmers, too little fertile land, and too few resources available to those farms that invariably feed our mega cities? Furthermore, how will the growing urban poor become food secure? Will the solutions made by politicians be safe for consumers? The answer to this question when considered together with present development challenges such as the shortage of oil, poverty, and environmental issues, places us in situation where the security of food provision and access is no longer a given. Food security is very much an urban challenge because they rely on outside rural farms for their food supply. The need for a safe and secure food supply is a concern, which agriculturists, development planners, and governments throughout the world need to deal with. In the Developing South where a rapid urbanisation trend is apparent, this has become a fundamental concern for urban management and rural farming. The literature shows that many cities and communities in South Africa have high percentages of people living food insecure (Caesar et al, 2013; Rudolph et al, 2012 and Battersby, 2011). A step away from our modern food system, towards a more primitive and basic form of securing our own food source, taking control of our own lives, may be what is needed. Urban agriculture could be this step. Urban agriculture is a modern term to describe an ancient practice. People have been growing food near or within the city walls since ancient times, and many still do it today. It has been proven possible that a family can grow enough food at home to sustain themselves, and to produce a surplus to sell for a profit. As a by-product of this localised activity, they contribute to the greening our cities and contribute to sustainability. This dissertation will be looking deeper into the concept of urban agriculture, into its potentials and into its constraints. The focus of this dissertation is on how this practice can up-lift a community, and how it can provide those involved with improved food security, while remaining sustainable and beneficial for the natural environment. The community of Cato Manor and those living around the Mandene Sports Club have been used as the case study for this dissertation. The research for this dissertation involved many site visits, interview surveys with 60 local residents (30 from the informal settlement area and 30 from the formal housing area), interviews with six professionals in related fields and an interview with a former member of the Cato Manor Development Association. The aim was to prove that urban agriculture in its various forms would be beneficial for the community of Cato Manor and assist in improving food security for those involved. The introduction of an ‘urban agricultural hub’, which makes use of various forms of urban agriculture, will be beneficial for the uplifting of the Cato Manor community, and assist in providing local residents with farming/ gardening knowledge, fresh and healthy food, and ultimately increasing their food security. The research provided evidence that the introduction of an urban agricultural hub would be possible in the Cato Manor study area, and that this can be used as a tool to uplift the community and increase food security. This research showed that people are interested in participating in urban agricultural activities, including participating in a community garden. It also showed that people in the area are already practicing urban agriculture in various forms.