Sub-Saharan Africa is urbanizing rapidly, but this urbanization process is not well understood, in intermediate or secondary cities in particular. Secondary cities will be home to the majority of future urban residents (Fox & Beall, 2012; Satterthwaite & Mitlin, 2013; UN-DESA 2018). This chapter recognizes the contestation over described trends in rates of urban growth, the associated patterns of poverty and inequality and their relationship to public policy (McGranahan et al., 2008; Potts, 2012), appreciating the challenges associated with using nationally derived demographic figures. Part of the challenge with inadequate demographic data has been a general disregard for African cities in global development and national political processes, as argued previously: “until fairly recently Africanists largely ignored, or were openly hostile to, almost all aspects of a wider urban agenda, focusing instead on issues such as the peasantry, agriculture, natural resource use or national sovereignty. The anti-urban bias is fast receding, ushered out by evidence of the rate and scale of urbanisation” (Pieterse et al., 2018, p. 3).

The urbanization trajectory and the renewed interest in the intersections between food and urbanization have resulted in “new” concepts and approaches that seek to understand these intersections. There is emerging interest in the urban food system (and not just food insecurity or hunger) that seeks to better understand the interactions between the household and the city scale (Frayne et al., 2010). Other, more universal, food system trends, such as enquiry into the nature and form of food retail in the urban environment, both formal and informal (Reardon et al., 2003), are also evident in African secondary cities. These trends all intersect with wider governance considerations that have emerged as a result of recent global governance agreements embedded within the processes of the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda (Battersby, 2017).

Rapidly growing African urban areas encounter multiple and, at times, mutually reinforcing development realities related to food, including food insecurity, food systems transformation, the growth of supermarkets and the nutrition transition. When these food system-related transitions intersect with other transitions, such as increased poverty and inequality, increased climatic variability, global geopolitical shifts and global economic contraction, and watershed events such as pest infestations (often driven by climatic changes) and global health crises, urban areas face significant development and governance challenges. Urbanization across Africa is not taking place in a uniform manner and the implications of these changes, and the policy solutions, vary across contexts. This chapter starts with a brief overview of Africa’s urbanization trajectory, reflecting on the different stages of urbanization and the differing trends, across regions and urban typologies. The chapter then draws on food systems studies carried out in three secondary African cities to call for far greater focus on the specificities of the different types of secondary cities. The case studies reviewed represent three different secondary city typologies: the trunk city; the satellite city; and the resource city.

The case studies are from the Consuming Urban Poverty (CUP) research project (Battersby & Watson, 2019; CUP, 2021a, 2021b; Joubert et al., 2018). CUP was a three-year research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and carried out in collaboration among the African Centre for Cities, Copperbelt University (Zambia), the University of Zimbabwe and the Kisumu Local Interaction Platform—a research and policy knowledge hub facilitating urban research in Kisumu, Kenya. The overarching objective of the project was to understand what the urban food systems in the case study cities reveal about the dynamics of urban poverty and its governance, yielding lessons for generic poverty reduction. Conceptually the CUP project viewed food poverty as being determined by household-scale conditions—a failure of entitlements, as per Amartya Sen (1981)—and wider systemic challenges in the food system (Ericksen, 2008). The CUP project approached food poverty as a form of social exclusion determined by failures and deficiencies in food market structure and food system governance priorities, and specific priorities at the urban scale (Barling et al., 2002; Haysom & Fuseini, 2019; Smit, 2016).

A central feature of the CUP work was its alignment with the typological differentiation suggested by Lily Song (2013) and Brian Roberts (2014, p. 37), which extends the debate on secondary cities by proposing different secondary city typologies. This chapter suggests that conventional assessments of secondary cities, informed by questions of size and proximity to rural areas, are insufficient measures that fail to adequately capture the diversity of secondary cities, specifically in respect of food systems governance. Understanding the different city typologies offers new ways of describing secondary cities, less by way of location or size and more by the city’s function. Three specific forms, which correspond to the three case studies in the CUP project, are evident:

  • subnational urban centres of administration, manufacturing, agriculture or resource development and resource extractive areas in particular (Kitwe, Zambia);

  • metropolitan clustered secondary cities, which develop on the periphery of metropolitan or urban regions and take the form of new towns, spillover growth centres and linear cities that could also include migrant and refugee cities, satellite towns or cities and often labour pool areas (Epworth, Zimbabwe); and

  • corridor secondary cities, which develop as growth poles along major transportation or trade corridors, and are often sites where different modes of transport intersect (Kisumu, Kenya).

As with most typology uses, the clear typological classification may not always be possible, with some cities representing more than one such typology or new typologies that would expand this list. How cities are described and discussed at a particular time of engagement or food policy formulation, and the use of more refined typologies, can aid in the development of locally appropriate and sustainable policies. While specific typological classifications will not offer governance clarity, typological classification offers a tool to bring difference and contextual variations to the fore.

Africa’s Urbanization Profile

In much of the academic and policy discourse on cities in Africa, primary cities dominate. The focus on the large metropolitan areas also dominates how urbanization in Africa is typically imagined. Mentions of the African city conjure up images of traffic chaos in Cairo, the complexity of governance in Lagos, the slums of Nairobi (with Kibera holding almost mythical status) and the crime and lawlessness of downtown Johannesburg, to mention just a few. Secondary cities have not received the same level of political, governance or popular focus. A possible reason for the focus on the primary, and mostly capital, cities is political. As Simon Bekker and Göran Therborn (2012, p. 1) have pointed out, “Capital cities have always played a central role in nation building and state building. These processes are both a symbolic movement and a quest to establish and maintain power. The nation state projects its power through the urban landscape and spatial layout of the capital city. This power is manifested in the capital’s architecture, in its public monuments and the names of its streets and public spaces”.

In his earlier work, David Satterthwaite dispelled “popular myths” about urbanization, the first being the supposed continued expansion of large megacities (Satterthwaite, 2007). Satterthwaite also challenged the notion of an urban bias in both academic and policy positions, suggesting that there is no evidence to support such claims (Satterthwaite, 2007). Satterthwaite suggests that in the context of urban growth, the challenges experienced are not caused by growth but by the inability of national and local institutions to adapt to the challenges presented by urban growth (Satterthwaite, 2007). These calls, made more than 10 years ago, have direct implications when engaging issues of urban food security and urban food systems governance.

African secondary cities face a number of key intersecting challenges. The first is the question of internal urban growth and increased net urban residents. This urban growth is not uniform and has clear contextual and historical trajectories. This difference is evident in the fact that settlements founded as a result of earlier resource booms often have far greater endogenous growth than those linked to trends associated with consolidation in agriculture or climate- and conflict-related migrations. The second challenge is governance and the fact that city size generally determines the skills, budgets and resourcing needed to effectively govern these secondary cities. Third, and perhaps less obvious, is that base infrastructure and existing form often dictate the nature of the expansion trajectory: the original form may have enabled some efficiency, informed by the needs of that population, but as the foundation for expansion this base is woefully inadequate. This challenge is particularly evident in a number of secondary cities in Africa that were founded during colonial periods as either resource extractive centres or regional administrative and trade centres. In these instances, the infrastructure provision was focused on a small, often white, elite, disregarding the needs of the wider population, or future needs (Duminy, 2018).

UN-DESA (2018) reports that Africa is 43% urbanized, countering the often held view that Africa is a predominantly rural continent. A further contextual consideration is the fact that, regionally, Africa is also urbanizing in different ways. Africa’s urban profile is varied, specifically in terms of where the bulk of Africa’s urban dwellers reside. From a governance perspective, the essential question needs to be: Where will the urban growth take place? Trends suggest that this will be in areas such as West, East and Central Africa. These are also the most populous regions, accounting for more than 320 million current urban African residents (more than 70% of all urban Africans). Combined, the scale of Africa’s urban growth, the regional distribution of that growth and the typology of its growing cities, mostly secondary cities, present a significant governance challenge. This variability requires greater nuance and contextual appreciation. Current approaches and classifications of secondary cities do not provide this nuance.

Classifying Secondary Cities

The absence of nuance and contextual specificity means that governance and developmental responses based on generalizations of African urbanization miss key local trends, needs and trajectories. From a planning and development perspective, such an oversight means that development plans run the risk of effectively casting current misconceptions, and flawed policy understandings about future needs, into concrete. Developments built today will impact supply chains, infrastructure profiles and governance for the next 50 to 100 years (Pieterse et al., 2015).

Different theorists apply different terms to categorize cities. In the 1980s, a primate city was defined as “the leading city in its country or region, disproportionately larger than any others in the urban hierarchy” (Goodall, 1987). These cities were, and generally remain to this day, leading political or economic hubs in a region or country (see also Bekker & Therborn, 2012). In 1983, Dennis Rondinelli, drawing on the literature of the time, argued that secondary cities were critical for national development. Rondinelli’s argument was that secondary cities were necessary to diffuse the urbanization that was mostly taking place in the primary cities at that time. Rondinelli argued that policies supporting the development of secondary cities would achieve several objectives, including: reversing polarization; alleviating primate city problems; reducing regional inequalities; stimulating rural economies; and reducing poverty in the urban sector generally (Fuchs, 1983; Rondinelli, 1983). Given the timing of Rondinelli’s arguments, informed by evidence collected in the years prior, many of these primate cities had experienced the removal of colonial-imposed movement restrictions for local (essentially non-European) country residents, resulting in large numbers of internal migrants to cities, generally the primate city.

In the framing of secondary cities and the intersections between these and governance questions, the historical use of the term is also important. UN-Habitat has framed secondary cities as “an urban area generally having a population of between 100,000 and 500,000” (1996, p. 13). But as Roberts (2014) argues, the population levels informing this classification require constant revision as cities grow; based on his model in 2021, a secondary city could technically be a city with a population of several million people. Song (2013) has suggested that in Southeast Asia, secondary cities range from cities with populations of between 100,000 and three million inhabitants. There is, however, no universally agreed definition for the term “secondary city” (Roberts, 2014).

Today, secondary cities play a variety of different roles in addition to those envisioned by Rondinelli. In the race for prestige aligned to primary and capital cities, secondary cities have been forgotten, or disregarded, in terms of research and governance theorization and practice, even though these are the sites of Africa’s future, as many are yet to be fully built. Secondary cities will be the engines of Africa’s development trajectory. Primary and capital cities will remain important, but it will be the secondary African cities that enable, or inhibit, the attainment of Africa’s potential demographic dividend (Pieterse, 2008).

This issue is increasingly important for urban food systems. In much of the food systems literature, secondary cities have been largely framed as demonstrating uniform functions and facing the same developmental challenges as larger cities. Secondary cities have also been predominantly framed as rural hubs or extensions of a rural agrarian economy. Drawing largely on demographic data, James Tefft and Marketa Jonasova (2020, p. 55) present a useful starting point in a provisional typology of cities in relation to their food systems. This differentiation addresses the need for practitioners and policymakers to tailor programme and policy recommendations in accordance with socio-economic, demographic and food system characteristics. Tefft and Jonasova (2020, p. 55) suggest three categories: agricultural towns or cities (C1) are “smaller but fast-growing populations and are in agricultural production areas with a key role in the rural economy”; medium and large secondary cities (C2) are “challenged to modernize food system architecture and strengthen food businesses to cater to the needs of diverse consumers”; and global megacities (C3) are “served by vibrant modern, traditional and informal food systems that are challenged to operate in congested environments, many in need of upgrading”. Within this framework, secondary cities are key sites where new regional formations may emerge, often informed by the notion that these cities have more direct local links, to production in particular (Tefft & Jonasova, 2020). This view is inadequate in light of the CUP typologies because it perpetuates a rural framing of most secondary cities, implicitly casting them all in the role of agricultural market centres. The World Bank framing of secondary cities as “agro-cities (agricultural towns and cities with under 1 million people)” (Tefft et al., 2017, p. 84) and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network framing, detailing smaller cities, generally those of less than one million, as cities with strong agricultural links, provide further evidence of this often repeated assumption.

Roberts’ (2014) framework is used in this chapter as a way of overcoming the implicit ruralization of secondary cities and assumption that secondary city economies are inherently agricultural. It is also versatile in different national contexts in that it draws focus on the different types and political, economic and even structural reasons for the development of certain types of settlements and not primarily the city’s location or size. Despite the recent interest in food systems governance of secondary cities, the approaches continue to perpetuate the ruralized, “provincial” view of secondary cities, missing the depth of nuance required to see how secondary cities function, across typologies, regions and political systems. Drawing on the city’s function and typology suggested by Roberts (2014), the CUP research sought to understand the food systems of different types of secondary cities.

Background to the Case Study Cities

The first of the three CUP case studies, Kisumu, Kenya, started as a regional trading centre, with its name being a Dholuo derivative meaning “a place to find food” (UN-Habitat, 2005). Kisumu is located on Lake Victoria, at the intersection of different trading routes. Historically, Kisumu was an important and strategic trading point for the Maragoli, Nandi and Luo people, long before the site was selected as a colonial commercial centre in 1898 (Nodalis Conseil, 2013; UN-Habitat, 2005). Given the strategic location of Kisumu, the British colonial government established a railroad terminus and port at the existing settlement. In 2006, Kisumu had a population of about 500,000 and an estimated growth rate of 2.8% per year (Geissler, 2013; UN-Habitat 2006). It is estimated that the daily population of the city sometimes increases to around one million as a result of trade and transit processes. Kisumu is the third largest city in Kenya, after Nairobi and Mombasa, and one of the country’s fastest-growing cities (Gutberlet et al., 2017).

The second city is Kitwe, Zambia. From as early as 1924, when Northern Rhodesia was declared a British Protectorate, the colonial government began to remove the Copperbelt’s established residents to native reserves to make way for the mines and farms staked out by the British South Africa Company (Siegel, 1989). For those who did not leave the land, the imposition of punitive taxes further forced the local residents into a cash economy and necessitated their search for employment. The primary economy of Kitwe was linked to its copper mines and related mining industries, with agriculture being an important secondary economic sector. The formal colonial town was founded in the 1930s, and in 1936 a town management board was established. In 1953, Kitwe’s governance structure became a municipal council and in 1967 Kitwe was officially declared a city (Hampwaye, 2008). Following trade liberalization in the early 1990s, many Kitwe residents lost employment. By the early 2000s, 45% of Kitwe’s labour force was unemployed (Smart et al., 2015). Since this time, new non-mining investments have diversified the city’s economy and Kitwe’s population has grown, with the 2010 census recording a population of 517,543 in Kitwe District (Central Statistical Office, 2012).

The third case study city is Epworth, Zimbabwe. Located outside the capital city’s municipal boundary, Epworth is a satellite town of Harare. Epworth, originally the site of two villages of subsistence farmers, was claimed by the colonial British South Africa Company. This land was donated to the Wesleyan Methodist Mission Trust in 1892 (Butcher, 1988; Rakodi, 1985). Due to the Wesleyan Methodist Mission governance of the land and unlike other colonial management of urban areas, the area had no government-imposed movement or development restrictions (Dialogue on Shelter 2009; Nyamvura & Brown, 1999). The church’s opening up of the area during the peak of the Zimbabwean liberation war (between 1966 and 1979) to welcome refugees fleeing conflict in the rural areas, resulted in the area’s rapid growth in the late 1970s (Rakodi, 1985). With independence in 1980, racial restrictions on movement to urban areas were lifted (Tibaijuka, 2005). Epworth, with its lack of formal development, provided an easy destination for new arrivals, further increasing the settlement’s population (Butcher, 1988). This sudden growth in Epworth’s population was beyond the administrative capacity of the Methodist Church, which donated part of its land to the government in 1986. The Epworth Local Board was then established as a local authority (Chirisa, 2010) and governs Epworth today. At the time of the 2012 census, Epworth had a population of 167,462 (ZIMSTAT, 2012).

Food Systems and Food Security Findings

The case study cities aligned with the various secondary city typologies. Despite imagined local benefits from rural linkages, and access to local food supplies, food insecurity levels in each case study city were high. Seventy-one percent of surveyed households in Kisumu were moderately or severely food insecure, as well as 88% of the surveyed households in Epworth and 90% in the sample in Kitwe (the Kitwe sample focused on poor neighbourhoods only) (Battersby & Watson, 2019). This supports other analyses of levels of food insecurity in African cities, including the low income areas targeted by the African Food Security Urban Network (AFSUN) surveys, which, using the same food security indicator (Household Food Insecurity Access Prevalence [HFIAP]), found high levels of food insecurity across a range of cities (Crush et al., 2012). The Household Dietary Diversity Score (HDDS) is a complementary measure, where HDDS scores of six food groups or fewer serve as a proxy indicator for under-nutrition.

In all three case study cities, the household diversity scores were recorded as being well below six, pointing to current and future developmental and health-related challenges. The HDDS and HFIAP provide some sense of urban food related challenges, but measuring multidimensional poverty offers insights into how food system challenges intersect with the wider urban system. The CUP research used the Lived Poverty Index (LPI). The LPI score ranges along a five-point scale from 0 (which can be thought of as no lived poverty) to 4 (which would reflect a constant absence of all basic necessities). Table 2.1 considers respondents who scored between 0 and 1, generally those experiencing little or no deprivation. By implication, this means that for Epworth, 63% experienced deprivation; for Kitwe, 58%; and for Kisumu, 26%.

Table 2.1 Comparison of FANTA and LPI scores across case study cities

Figure 2.1 provides insights into the scale and levels of lived poverty as measured through the LPI. While the absence of food and the absence of income are key drivers of lived poverty, other drivers also perpetuate lived poverty, specifically the absence of adequate energy to cook food, clean water and electricity. All impact food system outcomes. The provision of these services is predominantly the responsibility of city governments and intersects directly with the food system.

Fig. 2.1
figure 1

Lived Poverty Index in case study sites

In all case study cities, poor urban residents were purchasing food from supermarkets (for further detail about Epworth, see Tawodzera in this volume). However, the main and most frequent sources of food remained markets and traders (mostly informal) within their immediate neighbourhoods. Supermarkets were far from the most important source of food. In Kisumu, more than half the consumers surveyed bought less than 25% of their food at supermarkets. This suggests that although supermarkets are an important part of the changing food retail environment, the largely informal or traditional market areas remain dominant, with frequent purchases from the local markets and less frequent large purchases from a more central location or central market.

There is evidence that supermarkets are changing the nature of the food retail sector. In the case of Kitwe, a number of smaller traders were using the supermarkets as their wholesaler. Items entering the city through the supermarket’s supply chain, mostly items imported from South Africa by South African-owned supermarkets, are resold in the informal sector. From an urban food governance perspective, little attention has been paid to the role of local government in supporting the expansion of supermarkets through centralized planning that favours such expansion. By facilitating the construction of supermarkets, these planning policies have unintended consequences of altering the food supply chains into the city. In Kisumu and Kitwe, shopping malls and the supermarkets that occupy them are seen by local government as symbols of modernization and economic opportunity (Battersby & Watson, 2019). Figure 2.2, drawing on the Kisumu case specifically, demonstrates the varied food access use from the full sample of 841 households in the city. The frequency of use of local kiosks or house-shops is markedly different from the frequency of use of local markets (mostly weekly) and supermarkets. Kiosks and house-shops are used for daily purchases of key essentials, often in smaller quantities. Bulk buying of key staples (dry goods and processed foods) is often done on a monthly basis from supermarkets. On the other hand, weekly trips are made to local markets and butchers for the purchase of fresh produce.

Fig. 2.2
figure 2

(Source Adapted from Opiyo et al. [2018, p. 26])

Frequency of use by type of food retail outlet in Kisumu

A further contribution of the CUP project was its mapping of the sources of food coming into the city. These findings challenge some of the assumptions held within the emerging promotion of the City Region Food Systems concept led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the RUAF Foundation, ICLEI and others. The food systems for the three case study secondary cities were far more globally connected than the literature suggests, with fish in Kitwe and Kisumu travelling from China, eggs at the wholesale market in Kisumu coming from Uganda, and vegetables at the Chisokone Market in Kitwe coming from South Africa. These global connections were not limited to modern, formal supply chains, but were a central part of informal sector activities. Importantly, different food types were found to have very different supply chains and import networks. Most types of food vendors were adept at negotiating these international supply chains. Importantly, during the CUP research, an FAO project sought to understand the Kitwe supply chains, asking farmers where their food was sold. The majority of this food went to Kitwe, reflecting a largely city/region food system (Mwitwa et al., 2016). The CUP research asked vendors where their foods were sourced and noted distinctly international supply chains active in the city. These different entry points to similar questions pose deeply challenging governance questions.

Food Governance Issues Arising from Typological Analysis

In the case of secondary cities, typologies provide an important link between governance structure, policy and food security outcomes. As a satellite town, Epworth was found to have very little formal food retail, with no shopping mall or other large, formal food retail outlets. However, as a dormitory type of secondary city, food purchases made by the residents of Epworth remained varied, with most formal purchases being made in the primary city of Harare and other food purchases made via a variety of informal food vending typologies (see Tawodzera, this volume). The dormitory town of Epworth required a very specific type of food system governance, one that accounted for the symbiotic relationship between Epworth and Harare, and where governance actors from both municipalities worked in conjunction with one another. Mbare Musika, the main wholesale market in downtown Harare, was a primary source of food for most informal vendors in Epworth, and thus of households from Epworth.

In Kitwe, a regional centre for commerce and services, South African supermarket chains were developing rapidly to service the city and its surrounding region. The chains were expanding their footprint in traditional business districts, but also in new shopping malls. However, most residents still frequented a wide variety of informal vendors, with the use of the traditional downtown market, Chisokone Market, still dominating purchasing patterns. Kitwe, with its extractive industry history, was highly susceptible to price and other market-related shifts in its primary resource endowment, copper. Fluctuations in the international copper price had a direct impact on the prosperity (and, as a result, food system viability) of the city. This single commodity reliance severely undermined the resilience of the city, exposing many to a highly variable economy. Planning and governing for these boom-and-bust cycles is a key food system consideration. Relying on local food systems is one thing, but when employment fails, food might be available yet not always accessible.

Kisumu, a corridor hub since its inception, was facing a similar supermarket expansion trend, with new malls being developed in a variety of locations and supermarket tenants occupying these sites as anchor tenants, despite significant challenges for the supermarket sector at the time of the research. Kisumu’s role as a trunk city meant that there were direct transport routes that enabled access to produce from different regions. Eggs sold in Kisumu were found to be from Uganda, an easy trip across a nearby border, but transport was less important than the fact that poultry production was subsidized differently in Uganda than in Kenya, making eggs from Uganda more affordable. Fish caught in Lake Victoria could attract a better price in the capital, Nairobi, enabled by the trunk typology of Kisumu. However, that same trunk system ensured that fish vendors on the shores of Lake Victoria were able to import fish from China and sell it at affordable prices.

In both Kitwe and Kisumu, discussions were taking place to relocate central city markets into new “trader malls” or upgraded markets on the periphery of the city. These market upgrades were often funded by international development agencies and were seen by local officials as a vehicle to clear streets of unwanted informal traders. In the view of local officials, these traders occupy a very different position from that of shopping malls and the supermarkets that occupy them, which “hold a position in the local government as symbols of modernization and economic opportunity” (Battersby & Watson, 2019, p. 6). The role of international development agents in this process requires far greater attention and critique (Battersby & Watson, 2019).

These few examples demonstrate the central importance of urban food governance, including the importance of fully understanding the typology of the specific secondary city in applying essential urban governance approaches and determining where development attention is focused. In the CUP cities, it was found that there was generally weak governance of the urban food system, with no clear mandate for local government and limited financial and personnel capacity within local government. This meant that many governance decisions that shaped the food system, such as decisions on traders, market sites and mall development, were made outside the context of a consideration of their food system impact (Battersby & Watson, 2019). The relatively limited capacity of the state meant that key policy and planning decisions were strongly informed by national governments, large international donor agencies and private-sector actors. These governance capacity issues are particularly evident in secondary cities, urban areas with the most pressing development challenges, vulnerable economic bases and the worst access to up-to-date, accurate data on which to make governance decisions (Battersby & Watson, 2019).


Despite the varied food access options open to households in all three case study cities, food insecurity was still extremely high. This indicates that neither the formal supermarket system nor the informal system is enabling adequate access to food. Relying on the market systems to ensure food access is not adequate to enable health, prosperity and inclusive development in these secondary cities. The LPI results highlighted the scale and multidimensional nature of the deprivations, and the intersections between food deprivation and the wider urban system. Governing food can no longer be left to agricultural ministries and the market. City managers, politicians and officials need to play a far more active role in urban food systems governance.

The development interventions planned and decided on in the next decade will have a direct impact on the development outcomes across Africa, in both urban and rural areas, over the next 50 to 100 years. Ignoring the changes that will take place in the food systems of these urban spaces will have a profound impact on Africa’s overall development outcomes. Key to ensuring that these outcomes are positive, pro-poor and health enhancing is food systems governance at the urban scale. Africa’s secondary city food system transformation is seldom considered, but requires urgent attention.

The current view of secondary cities being embedded within, and reliant on, a regional food system requires far greater interrogation and critique. Generalized approaches run the risk of missing important contextual needs and nuance. An important approach in refining urban food governance considerations in secondary African cities is to take seriously the different secondary city typologies and use them as a means to support local food systems governance planning and policy actions.