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On April 2021, the Scientific Group of the United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021 published the paper Secondary Cities as Catalysts for Nutritious Diets in Low- and Middle-Income Countries written by Kesso Gabrielle van Zutphen, Dominique Barjolle, Sophie van den Berg, Breda Gavin-Smith, Klaus Kraemer, Capucine Musard, Helen Prytherch, Johan Six, Simon Winter, and Kris Woltering.


This paper discusses the challenge of the growing triple burden of malnutrition in urban contexts and advocates for the role of secondary cities as game-changers to transform city region food systems. Secondary cities are introduced as emerging players in pioneering nutrition-centered food systems interventions, and in monitoring and evaluating their impacts for later improvements and out-scaling.

Against the context of many of the challenges raised in this paper, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation has initiated and provides funding for a project starting in 2021, that aims to improve nutrition in secondary cities in three countries. The Nutrition in City Ecosystems (NICE) project works with selected secondary cities in Bangladesh (Dinajpur and Rangpur), Kenya (Bungomaand and Busia) and Rwanda (Rubavu and Rusizi) and places a particular focus on women, youth and vulnerable groups in city regions. Key elements of NICE are to: strengthen the supply of and demand for agroecologically-produced, local and nutritious foods; foster multisectoral governance; stimulate greater public and private sector engagement for resilient food systems and improved nutrition outcomes.

NICE is co-financed and implemented by a Swiss consortium comprised of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Zurich (Sustainable Agroecosystems & Food Processing Groups and World Food System Centre), Sight and Life, and the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture. NICE aims to achieve its goals by focusing on four outcome areas: 1) participatory governance and systems, 2) production and availability of agroecological and locally produced foods 3) knowledge and demand generation for nutritious and agroecologically produced food and 4) policy and advocacy.

Click here to read the full paper published by the Scientific Group of the United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021.