Urban agriculture, food security and poverty alleviation in sub-Saharan Africa


Contact Dr Martin Dallimer to discuss this project further informally.

Project description

Over half the world’s population now lives in towns and cities, a proportion that is predicted to increase to approximately 70% by the middle of the century. The majority of this future urban expansion will occur in low-income regions, with Africa urbanising faster than any other continent. In 2009, 395 million Africans (~40%) lived in cities, and this is expected to triple to 1.23 billion by 2050. 

Urban poverty is higher in Africa than in any other continent. 43% of urban Africans live in extreme poverty. For sub-Saharan Africa, where informal settlements account for 65% of the urban population, there is a particularly urgent need to understand and quantify how the design and management of urban areas and their green spaces can better address the needs of the poor 

As cities expand, one of their most pressing requirements is the security of food supply. High levels of urban income poverty paired with rising food prices, however, often make the formal urban food supply system unaffordable to the urban poor. An informal supply system, often with urban agriculture at its core, therefore sits alongside established food supply networks. Indeed, worldwide, an area the size of the European Union is devoted to agriculture within towns and cities and urban agriculture, therefore, could have an important role to play in improving food security and ameliorating poverty. To date, however, there has been little examination of how urban agriculture might serve to improve multiple dimensions of poverty and food security for Africa’s urban poor. This studentship would seek to redress this balance. 

The student would have the opportunity to work with a range of contacts and partners already known to the supervisory team in sub-Saharan Africa. Potential study cities might include those located in Senegal, Togo, São Tomé and Príncipe, Ethiopia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa. 

Entry requirements

Applications are invited from candidates with or expecting a minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree (2:1), and/or a Master's degree in the relevant subject area.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University’s minimum English Language requirements.

Additional staff contact

Supervisor:  Professor Andy Dougill

How to apply

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the university's website. Please state clearly in the research information section that the PhD you wish to be considered for is the ‘Urban agriculture, food security and poverty alleviation in sub-Saharan Africa' as well as Dr Martin Dallimer as your proposed supervisor.

We welcome scholarship applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.

If you require any further information please contact the Graduate School Office e: apply-phd@see.leeds.ac.uk, t: +44 (0)113 343 1634.