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Urban Forum

pp 1–21 | Cite as

The Enabling Environment for Informal Food Traders in Nigeria’s Secondary Cities

  • Danielle ResnickEmail author
  • Bhavna Sivasubramanian
  • Idiong Christopher Idiong
  • Michael Akindele Ojo
  • Likita Tanko
Article

Abstract

Informal vendors are a critical source of food security for urban residents in African cities. However, the livelihoods of these traders, and the governance constraints they encounter, are not well-understood outside of the region’s capital and primate cities. This study focuses on two distinct secondary cities in Nigeria, Calabar in the South-South geopolitical zone of the country and Minna in the Middle Belt region. Interviews were collected with local and state officials in each city on the legal, institutional, and oversight functions they provide within the informal food sector. This was complemented with a survey of approximately 1097 traders across the two cities to assess their demographic profile, contributions to food security, key challenges they face for profitability, engagement with government actors, and degree of access to services in the markets. The analysis highlights two main findings. First, informal traders report less harassment by government actors than has been observed in larger Nigerian cities. At the same time, however, the enabling environment is characterized by benign neglect whereby government-mandated oversight functions are not comprehensively implemented and service delivery gaps remain a major hindrance to food safety. Second, there are important differences in the needs of traders across cities, suggesting that policies focused on food safety and improving the livelihoods of this constituency more broadly need to be properly nuanced even at the subnational level.

Keywords

Informal economy Nigeria Secondary cities Street vending Urban food security 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful for funding for this research from the USAID Nigerian Agricultural Productivity Project (NAPP) and from CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). They also thank the CLEEN Foundation and NoiPolls Nigeria for their implementation of the surveys with informal traders in Calabar and Minna. Mekamu Kedir provided excellent research assistance by developing maps of the survey locations. All errors remain those of the authors alone.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Food Policy Research InstituteWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.University of CalabarCalabarNigeria
  3. 3.Federal Technical University of MinnaMinnaNigeria

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