Adaptive governance and market heterogeneity: An institutional analysis of an urban food system in sub-Saharan Africa

Jordan Blekking, Cascade Tuholske, Tom Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


African cities face immense challenges over the coming decades. As countries urbanize, African cities must maintain service provision for rapidly increasing populations, yet with limited resources. In particular, urban food systems must be able to cope with regional food shortages and catalyze (or at least enable) the distribution of food from diverse sources in order to ensure that the cost of food remains affordable for all of the segments of a city's population. Food systems in most African cities are composed of wholesale sellers, formal markets, street vendors, shops, and increasingly large-scale international stores, creating an evolving landscape of food sources. At the same time, urban population growth can result in rapid changes in urban structure with new periurban development and transitions in socioeconomic status within existing areas. Governance plays an important role in the creation and coordination of formal and informal actors across different types of food providers. At the municipal level, new markets must be approved to keep pace with urban expansion. Within residential areas, market management committees must work to maintain traditional markets in the context of increasing competition from large-scale grocers and small-scale street vendors. We use household and market-level data that was collected in Lusaka, Zambia, to conduct an institutional analysis of residential areas to examine the interplay between households, public markets, and street vendors. Analysis of the city's food system identifies a complex network of relationships featuring formal and informal governance arrangements, which may affect food system functionality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2191
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number12
StatePublished - Nov 27 2017


  • Food system governance
  • Institutions
  • Urban food security
  • Urban food systems
  • Zambia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Adaptive governance and market heterogeneity: An institutional analysis of an urban food system in sub-Saharan Africa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this