Food security and the urban informal economy in South Africa: The state of knowledge and perspectives from street-food traders in Khayelitsha

Even-Zahav, Etai (2016-03)

Thesis (MPA)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY: An emerging body of research suggests acute levels of food insecurity in urban informal areas (See Naicker et al 2015; Crush & Caesar 2014; Rudolph et al 2012; Battersby 2011; Frayne et al 2009; de Wet et al 2008). Simultaneously, available research indicates substantial reliance on the informal economy to satisfy daily/weekly food needs of urban informal residents (See Crush & Frayne 2011; Battersby 2011; Frayne et al 2009). Nevertheless, the food security contribution of the informal food economy on the margins of South Africa’s cities, particularly of street-foods, is poorly conceived and supported. By systematically reviewing the contemporary literature (2009-2014), this research maps out the present state of knowledge about the informal food economy and its contribution to food (in)security. It explores the illusive nature of the ‘invisible crisis’1 of urban food insecurity and what is known about the role played by the informal economy in this regard. Building on the results and gaps from the systematic review, fieldwork findings – in the form of in-depth immersive ‘apprenticeships’ with two street-food traders in Khayelitsha township – are then presented and discussed. The findings reveal an informal economy that trades not only in food commodities but also in the provision of other socially invaluable services: of kinship, reciprocity, tradition and nostalgia. Contrary to mainstream theories, traders were neither forced into the informal economy, nor do they wish to formalise. Food security literature was found to focus on techno-scientific food-centric perspectives of the informal economy, which, while valuable, is largely divorced from the lived realities, means and concerns of workers in the informal food economy. The thesis concludes that, in the absence of human-centred, trader-centric accounts of the informal food economy, there is little prospect for appropriate prescriptions and successful interventions.

AFRIKAANS OPSOMMING: Navorsing wys dat vlakke van voedsel insekuriteit in stedelike informele areas vinnig toeneem (sien Naicker et al 2015; Crush & Caesar 2014; Rudolph et al 2012; Battersby 2011; Frayne et al 2009; de Wet et al 2008). Gelyktydig wys navorsing dat inwoners van informele areas daagliks en weekliks swaar staat maak op die informele ekonomie vir voeding (sien Crush & Frayne 2011; Battersby 2011; Frayne et al 2009). Tog is die informele ekonomie (en veral die straatkosekonomie) se poging om kos op die stedelike rande aan te wend swak verstaan en ondersteun. Deur die kontemporere literature (2009- 2014) sorgvuldig en sistematies te evalueer meen hierdie navorsing om die informele kosekonomie se heidige staat van kennis en aanwending na stedelike voedselsekuriteit to exploreer. Dit vertolk die vaë natuur van die ‘onsigbare krisis’ van voedselsekuriteit, en wat te wete is oor die rol van die informele voedselekonomie. Veldwerk bevindings in die vorm van leerskapp met twee informelestraatkosverkopers in Khayelitsha word geoffer en bespreek. Die tesis wys dat die informelekosekonomie nie alleenlik in kos handel nie, maar ook ander kosbare sosiale dienste aanwend – van bloedverwantskap, wederkerigheid, tradisie en nostalgie. In kontras met hoofstroom teorie, was straatverkoopers nie ná hulle werk geforseer nie – en hulle wil nie formaliseer nie. Dit word gewys hoedat die voedselsekuriteit literatuur tekno-wetenskaplik, kos-sentriese perspektiewe versprei wat, ten spyte van die waarde hiervan, nie die lewende realiteit, hulpbronne en ondernemings van verkoopers in ag neem nie. Die tesis beslis dat, in die afwesigheid van mens en verkooper-gesentreerde navorsing, die moontlikheid van toegewyde en gepaste ingrypings verswak is.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/98571
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