Panel 11

Livestock moving into cities – goods and bads in the rural-urban linkage

Panel organisers: Sofia Boqvist, Carl-Johan Lagerkvist and Ulf Magnusson, Swedish University of agricultural sciences (SLU).


Ten years ago the number of people in urban areas equaled the numbers in rural areas. Before we reach half-way through this century it is estimated that the urban population will be twice as large as the rural population. By 2050 Africa’s population will be double that of today with the number of individuals living in Africa’s urban areas expected to rise from 400 million in 2010 to 1.26 billion in 2050. Along with the fast urbanization, there is also a rapid growth in demand of more varied diets including animal source food, contributing to increased urban livestock keeping.

The objectives of this session are: i. to identify the inter-linkages and assess the inter-plays of the “coupled systems” from resilience and adaptedness criteria focusing on livestock sector in urban environments, and ii. to discuss important food security and nutrition challenges in relation to livestock production. Livestock contribute substantially to food security in Africa, particularly to the poor and under-nourished groups. Livestock systems in Africa are dynamic and characterized by rapid change due to the increasing demand for livestock source food (LSF) in response to human population growth, income growth and urbanization. The supply response of livestock systems will increasingly be affected by competition for natural resources, particularly land and water, competition between food and feed and by the need to operate in a carbon-constrained economy. Several countries in Africa will therefore have to face significant adjustment pressures while poverty becomes increasingly urbanized, demand for urban LSF grows, and cities exert greater influence on peri-urban and rural livelihoods and environments. Accordingly, there is significant uncertainty about both how livestock systems might evolve to meet the increased demand for LSF and what the socioeconomic and environmental consequences of these changes will be. This panel will be organized by the AgriFoSe2030 programme (

Approved abstracts panel 11

1. Urbanization, Livestock Systems and Food Security in Developing Countries: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Authors: Abu Hatab & C.J. Lagerkvist, Department of Economics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden.

Urbanization is occurring most quickly in developing countries, adding significant challenges to tackling hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition. The literature suggests that many solutions to challenges facing food production and consumption in developing countries lie in how livestock production systems (LPSs) are managed, and in their ability to build sustainable crop and LPSs that foster food security to meet the needs of a massive population surge. Nevertheless, the expansion of the geographic extent of cities have considerable impacts on LPSs, influenced both by supply-side shifts in natural resource use and market-led demand changes. Thus, there are increasing uncertainties about how LPSs in developing countries might evolve under rapid urbanization to meet the food security needs.

The present study systematically reviews the peer-reviewed literature on livestock production and food security in urbanizing environments in developing countries to characterize and synthesize the current understanding on these issues and identify priorities for future research. An explicit, rigorous and transparent literature search was undertaken using the PubMed, ISI Web of Science and Scopus databases over the period 1980-2017, resulting in 72 articles that were included in the final review.

The preliminary results of the review reveal that there is limited knowledge about the interactions of urbanization with other drivers of change in LPSs and their impacts onto food and nutritional security. Another general weakness in the literature is that attempts to analyze the relationship between livestock production, urbanization and food security are still highly hypothetical and rely on questionable assumptions and qualitative methods. Moreover, the analyses of livestock value chains concentrates on either production and/or consumption, largely ignoring other nodes and actors along the value chain that may have an influential impact on LPSs and food security. Furthermore, the reviewed literature focuses primarily on the “availability” and supply of livestock products, widely neglecting other dimensions of food security. Special attention is clearly needed to issues of distribution, access and quality and utilization in LPSs, thus promoting an integrated course of action to deal with all dimensions of food security.

2. Urban livestock – contributor to livelihoods or a potential health hazard? The case of Cambodia

Authors: Gunilla Ström1, Sofia Boqvist2, Ann Albihn2,3, Agnes Andersson Djurfeldt4, Seng Sokerya5, Ulf Magnusson1

1Department of Clinical Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences  (SLU), Uppsala, Sweden; 2Department of Biomedical Sciences and Veterinary Public Health, SLU, Uppsala, Sweden; 3Department of Chemistry, Environment and Feed Hygiene, National Veterinary Institute (SVA), Uppsala, Sweden; 4Department of Human Geography, Lund University, Lund, Sweden; 5Centre for Livestock and Agriculture Development, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.



Cambodia is currently experiencing a rapid urbanization of its population where people are relocating to urban areas in search for better employment opportunities and improved livelihoods. Concomitantly, the demand for animal-source foods has increased rapidly which creates great market opportunities for livestock keepers and has contributed to an increased relocation of livestock production to the vicinity of urban areas. Keeping animals in densely populated areas, however, may add to pollution and an increased incidence of diseases transferring between animals and humans (zoonoses).


This study included 204 households keeping pigs, cattle and chickens in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Semi-structured questionnaires were used to gather information on household characteristics, disease awareness, manure management and livestock practices in the households.


In the majority of the households, livestock production was considered to be of great importance for livelihoods and many households reported keeping livestock as part of an integrated production system, where residues from food, rice and rice wine production were used as animal feed. More than 40%, however, reported that they did not use the manure which was then discharged behind the pens or into lakes and rivers close to the house. Nearly half of the households (47%) did not use any sanitary precautions when being in contact with the animals or the manure and around 45% did not think that diseases could transmit from animals to humans.


Keeping livestock enables an important extra income and may hence contribute to improved livelihoods and food security for urban households. However, household practices applied among the farmers pose serious risks for zoonotic transmission and interventions are needed to develop sustainable urban livestock systems with special regard to manure and waste management if livestock keeping is to continue in urban areas in Cambodia.

3. Turning a liability into an asset: The development of Harare’s City Council’s Cattle’s Project to 2000

Authors: Sibanenga Ncube, University of Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa & Pius Nyambara, Department of Economic History, University of Zimbabwe.

The research examines the City of Harare’s cattle project between 1960 and 2000 when its herd reached 10 000 cattle. The project was a response to an ecological disaster developing in Lake Mcllwaine, Salisbury’s major source of water. Initially, the project was designed to prevent pollution of the lake by effluent from sewage works. The mineral rich effluent resulted in the eutrophication of the lake leading to the deterioration of water quality resulting in deaths of aquatic life. To fix the problem, the council diverted the sewage into irrigation of adjacent farm pastures so that the lake polluting minerals were absorbed by the special grass planted on the irrigated farms and cattle were introduced on the pastures, allowing for further absorption of more minerals by the recovering pastures resulting in water finding its way to the lake through seepage, but in a purer form. Increased human population after Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980 rendered the sewage diversion programme inadequate for effluent treatment. The Bardepho process was introduced which entailed the chemical removal of the water polluting nitrogen and phosphate elements without the need for effluent diversion. The expanded cattle project served a double function of generating income for the city and pollution control. The need for more residential space resulted in encroachment onto cattle farms. Using primarily council records, the study examines city-residents relations created by the proximity of residential areas to cattle farms. Cases of stock theft, calves being attacked by stray dogs and cattle straying into residents’ maize and garden plots created conflicts, yet the sale of organic manure to small scale urban farmers also highlights the co-existence dynamic. The study locates the project within the urban environmental and socio-economic ecosystem highlighting its positive and negative aspects in order to find common ground for the good of the city.

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