Understanding the nature of urban food insecurity in Nepal and the prospective role of US foreign aid

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University of Delaware
Today, more than half of the world’s population resides in urban areas. This has profound implications on all aspects of life, including food security. Food security issues are especially concerning in Asia, where at least half of all food is consumed in cities, and urbanization is shifting poverty from rural to urban areas. This dissertation investigates the nature of urban food insecurity in one of the fastest urbanizing nations in South Asia- Nepal. Current food security research and policies of Nepal are completely rural-centric, leaving a significant gap in the literature and existing policies. This gap exists not only at the domestic level but also in foreign assistance from donor agencies and foreign governments. This includes the United States and the United Nations, which have primarily focused on rural regions, leaving urban areas an unexplored territory for food assistance intervention, albeit increasing urban food insecurity. Therefore, this study addresses two significant gaps in the literature and policy. First, it investigates urban food insecurity in Nepal in its most densely populated region- Kathmandu Valley. Second, it explores the potential role of US foreign assistance in mitigating urban food insecurity in Nepal. Several global food security programs have attempted to tackle hunger through international aid and domestic policies for decades. This research explores US foreign aid as a potential resource for addressing hunger and food insecurity in urban areas of the global South. Using the Rights-Based theory, it frames food as a fundamental human rights issue and expands the theoretical framework of the Right to Adequate Food by including the role of governance. The findings of the dissertation project reflect the unique and urgent nature of urban food insecurity and outline key actors in the governance of urban food systems that have the potential to serve as development partners in US food assistance to Nepal. Ultimately, the dissertation sets the foundation for donors, academics, and the Nepal government to expand their food security research and intervention programs in urban areas of the global South.
Food security, Nepal, Urban food security, US food assistance, US foreign aid