Food for Cities group: Conversations about Covid 19
It is impossible not to think about the influence the coronavirus pandemic has and could have on food systems and the relationships between urban and rural areas. A great deal of proactive, critical and inspiring discussion is underway between academics, practitioners, policymakers and activists worldwide. It reflects the urgency to fight against food insecurity and hunger and – ultimately – to rethink our current food systems. Our own recent thoughts in relation to the desirability of distributed and evenly spread food systems and productive urban landscapes can be found here.
One of the most useful forms for this debate is the Food for Cities mailing group. This group is hosted by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation, and one can sign up to become a member via this link. Participants in the group have been involved in issues related to food security, equitable food systems and the planning and design of cities to accommodate them.
One of the group’s recent emails included a link to an article from the 9th of April by Léandre Guigma about how stakeholders in the informal settlement Bissighin on the outskirts of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital, are dealing with social distancing and food security. It describes the establishment of a new distributed network of small market stalls selling food now that central markets have been closed down to ensure social distancing. The wider point made in the article is about how the community has dealt with the pandemic in a way that respects the need for distancing and the realities of a densely-packed informal settlement while retaining ‘humanity and a joie de vivre‘. The article (in French) concludes:
‘Face aux mesures de protection contre le COVID-19, nous avons fait le constat dans un quartier non loti de la ville de Ouagadougou, Bissighin. Contrairement aux clichées qui se font sur ces zones pas assez structurées, c’est plutôt une vie conviviale et une organisation rigoureuse contre le COVID-19 qui ressortent dans ce reportage. […] Cette solidarité, cette résilience renouvelée, cette humanité et cette joie de vivre des résidents du non-loti, ne pourraient-elles pas inspirer d’autres citadins de Ouagadougou, d’autres citoyens du Burkina Faso, de l’Afrique et du monde, pour faire face au COVID-19, aux autres maladies et aux attaques terroristes qui sévissent malheureusement encore en Afrique et dans le monde?’
Burkina Faso has been on Bohn&Viljoen’s radar for some time since, in 2013, the municipality in its second city, Bobo-Dioulasso, developed a demonstration project for ‘Trames Vertes [Greenways]’ explicitly referencing the CPUL concept.
The article was published in the online journal Sidwaya and is titled COVID-19 : Leçons de résilience d’un non-loti de Ouagadougou and can be found here.
For further information about the ‘Trames Vertes’ in Bobo-Dioulasso see here.
Image: The ‘Trames Vertes’, a mosaic connecting green spaces in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, based on the CPUL concept (source: Hamidou Baguian Municipality of Bobo-Dioulasso 2013)