Urban food and nutrition security. Participatory approaches for community nutrition
Urban Food and Nutrition security is a growing concern in Europe. Rapid urbanization creates new demands for food and nutrition, especial in low- and middle-income countries. This poses new challenges to food and nutrition intervention programmes. The rapid process of urbanization has led to the so-called double burden of nutrition, a situation where nutritional deficiencies exist side by side with the emergence of over nutrition among vulnerable groups in urban areas. This paper examines the applicability of participatory approaches as a tool for planning intervention programmes, and suggests guidelines for a participatory approach to address urban food and nutrition insecurity. Traditionally, nutrition programmes are designed using “top down” approaches. In contrast, community approaches argue that large-scale behavioural change can only be achieved by mobilization of the community. During the 1980’s and 1990’s a large number of participatory approaches have been developed with the intent of mobilizing rural communities to analyse their situation and take action to make improvements. Participatory approaches provide a valuable framework for enabling people to identify, analyse and mobilize resources within the community to overcome their problems. However, certain problems exist including the type and quantity of data collected and if it can be utilized by decision-makers. In addition, experience of practitioners suggest that participatory approaches are applicable in urban areas, but special attention is needed to address the differences between urban and rural communities.