Environment & Urbanization

World leading environmental and urban studies journal

Atlas of West African Urban Food Systems: Examples from Ghana and Burkina Faso

Hanna Karg, Pay Drechsel

International Water Management Institute



Atlas of West African Urban Food Systems is a snapshot of the food systems of Tamale, Ghana and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. These are changing amidst a transition from subsistence to commercial food production, increasing concern with food contamination, and a shift in urban diets toward more rice and meat. The report emerged from the UrbanFoodPlus project funded by the German government, which brings together research partners from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Cameroon, Mali, Nigeria and Germany.

The report contains plenty of large aerial photographs and other images that help to visualize the spatial layout of food production in the study sites. It also includes vignettes from a variety of authors, on topics such as soil management in urban agriculture. While short, these sections pack in a lot of content, such as a description of food flows into Tamale and Ouagadougou that stems from recording all the ways that food was transported into the cities. Overall, this content addresses the linked issues of nutrition, livelihoods, environment, and poverty – all from the angles of food access and provision.

The report reaches some key recommendations how to better understand and support these food systems, including:

• Transparently address conflicts between traditional and modern land rights

• Train farmers in alternatives to pesticides • Improve opportunities to sell manure

• Consider the nutritional benefits of urban fruit trees in urban planning

• Work with local NGOs to tackle farming-related issues

• Diversify the geographical areas that provide food, to reduce the risk of disruptions


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Related short film available from:



Further reading:

Korbéogo, Gabin (2017), “Ordering urban agriculture: farmers, experts, the state and the collective management of resources in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso”, Environment and Urbanization Vol 30, No 1, pages 283–300, available at https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0956247817738201.

Kuusaana, E D and J A Eledi (2015), “As the city grows, where do the farmers go? Understanding peri-urbanization and food systems in Ghana - Evidence from the Tamale Metropolis”, Urban Forum Vol 26, No 4, pages 443–465, available at https://www.academia.edu/14382924/As_the_city_grows_where_do_the_farmers....

Stage, Jesper, Jørn Stage and Gordon McGranahan (2010), “Is urbanization contributing to higher food prices?”, Environment and Urbanization Vol 22, No 1, pages 199–215, available at https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0956247809359644.


Book note prepared by Christine Ro

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