Enhancing the resilience of alternative food systems in informal settings in Latin America and the Caribbean through bottom-up initiatives
In Latin America and the Caribbean, as elsewhere, low-income and marginalized communities have seen their vulnerability exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. They are experiencing greater food insecurity and are suffering more from the cascading impacts of natural hazards and climate change. Yet every day, they produce informal, bottom-up solutions to these problems, transforming public spaces, housing, and urban conditions at the margins of the authorities’ influences and plans. These bottom-up solutions are still not fully understood, and little is known about how conditions of urban informality — where infrastructure and services are scarce, land tenure is disputed, governance structures are fragile, and housing conditions are poor — influence the emergence, sustainability, and scaling of alternative food systems. These are food systems that are local, healthy, equitable, inclusive, and culturally relevant.
This project seeks to explore: (a) how bottom-up informal solutions interact with food systems and contribute to making them more resilient to shocks such as climate change and pandemics; (b) how urban systems such as infrastructure and housing in informal settlements influence the resilience and vulnerability of alternative food systems and, by doing so, how they influence people’s capacity to deal with climate change impacts; and (c) the conditions for scaling impact, transferring results, and overcoming implementation barriers towards resilient alternative food systems in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The aim is to use such knowledge to support on-the-ground, locally specific efforts to strengthen alternative food systems, as well as to generate and practice lessons related to the food system, with a view to reducing vulnerabilities and building resilience. The project will involve research, training, and implementation activities in four countries: Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, and Cuba. It will also include networking and sharing of activities among the four countries as well as other countries of the Dry Corridor of Central America. It will produce new knowledge and yield policy changes through innovative explorations that combine empirical research, action research, and design. These activities will help enhance local capacity and interaction among community leaders, public officials, and academic partners, and better equip communities and institutions to address the challenges of food insecurity and natural hazards in the coming years.