New movie: Trading food across West African borders

West African countries depend on food imported from the global market and on intra-regional trade to supplement national food supplies such as food produced within city regions. However, barriers on the road and at borders make cross-border trade challenging and expensive.

Find out more about cross-border trade in West Africa, the formal and informal barriers, and why traders and transporters of food produced and consumed in the region are affected more by these barriers than others. This documentary summarises findings from a road trip on a truck from the port in Tema, Ghana, to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

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Road trip from Tema, Ghana, to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, February 2018

The port in Tema, the starting point of the trip
The research team on the Accra-Kumasi highway

To better understand social and organisational factors influencing food trade across borders, Edmund K. Akoto-Danso (SP2) and Hanna Karg (SP8) travelled with an articulated truck carrying rice, originally from India, from the port in Tema, Ghana, to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The trip took place from 21 - 26 February, 2018. The team spent four days on the road and two days at the Ghana – Burkina border and faced various challenges, including delays caused by equipment malfunction and numerous checkpoints on the route most of which are managed by the Police Service and Customs. For the journey of 920 km, they counted about 108 checkpoints, the large majority in Ghana, run by these institutions as well as various tollbooths (12) and weighing bridges (10). Informal interviews revealed that drivers employed by transporting companies or organised in drivers’ unions experience far less harassment than drivers transporting local goods who are not backed by a powerful institution. The difficulties that local food transporters face affect cross-border trade in the ECOWAS region, a sector with a high potential of offering employment along the entire supply chain.

A report and a documentary of the trip will be uploaded soon!

Global Food Security Conference, Cape Town, December 2017


Some research results generated in the UrbanFoodPlus project were presented to a wide audience at the Global Food Security Conference in Cape Town from 3-6 December 2017. Edmund K. Akoto-Danso (SP2), Carla Swertz, Tobias Thürer, Christina Seeger (all SP7), and Hanna Karg (SP8) presented their findings on consumers' willingness to pay for certified safe vegetables, cost-of-illness among urban farm households, urban food provisioning and virtual water flows.

Food/Feed/Wood Surveys

In March and September 2017, Louis Amprako and Hanna Karg from the University of Kassel travelled to Bamenda to carry out two Food/Feed/Wood Surveys covering the late dry season and the rainy season. In close collaboration with the local project partner SHUMAS, the team conducted a road and a market survey. A third survey will follow later this year, covering the early dry season.

In Bamako, a third Food/Feed/Wood Survey was conducted in August by Edmund K. Akoto Danso, Hanna Karg and Louis Amprako. The survey was supported by the Institute d’Economie Rurale (IER).

Data collection at the checkpoint on the Bello road

March 2015 UrbanFoodPlus members invited to FAO

Hanna Karg and Johannes Schlesinger were invited to participate in an expert consultation on city region food systems (CRFS) at FAO headquarters in Rome. Based on their experience in the fields of GIS/remote sensing and food flow surveys, they will contribute to the establishment of a standardized assessment methodology for CRFS.

January 2015 Hidden Hunger Conference

Takemore Chagomoka was awarded a stipend to attend the 2nd International Congress on Hidden Hunger, taking place from 3 – 6 March 2015 in Stuttgart. He was invited to give an oral presentation of his paper titled: Women dietary diversity scores and anthropometric measurements as indices of nutrition security along the urban – rural continuum in Northern Ghana.

December 2014 Three master students graduate after conducting research within the project

Three master students from Freiburg University recently graduated after successfully conducting their research within the project. Lea Bartels wrote her thesis about “Vegetable Production in the city of Tamale. An analysis of land tenure and irrigation in dry season horticulture”. Sophie Unger investigated the topic of “Food insecurity and coping strategies in the urban, periurban and rural areas of Tamale, Ghana”, while Rafael Hologa did his research on “Degrees of urbanity and respective settlement types in Tamale, Ghana”.

October 2014 New PhD candidate joins the team

The UrbanFoodPlus team was joined by the PhD candidate Jasmin Marston. She will have a closer look at past as well as recent agricultural policies in Ghana and their impact on the household level.

September 2014 Two Master student support research activities in Tamale and Ouagadougou

Lea Deißinger and Mitja Thomas from Freiburg University joined the core research team to carry out their master thesis research. Lea looked into food access in different urban and periurban communities in Tamale. Mitja examined degrees of urbanity in Ouagadougou and surrounding settlements.

September 2014 UrbanFoodPlus scientists present at the Tropentag 2014

The UrbanFoodPlus team was given the opportunity to present preliminary findings of the baseline survey at an international conference in Prague. The annual Tropentag is one of the major conferences in the field of tropical agriculture.

April 2014 Municipal administration trained in the use of GIS

A total of ten members of staff of the municipal administration of Tamale were trained in the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), a software optimised for the handling, analysis, and visualisation of geodata by members of SP8. Attendants of the one-day workshop came from different sections of the Town and Country Planning Department, the Roads Planning Department, and staff of the municipal administration of Savelugu.

March 2014 Project team uses drone to collect high-resolution land cover data

The project team recently applied an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) – commonly known as “drone” – for the collection of current land cover data. A total of 18 agricultural production sites were covered, high-resolution aerial images were taken and digital surface models were created. The data allows for a detailed quantification of area under cultivation, crop distribution and crop height.

February 2014 Three bachelor students graduate after conducting research within the project

Recently, three bachelor students graduated from Freiburg University after doing their research in the field of remote sensing based approaches for land use classification in Tamale and Ouagadougou. Their work will contribute to the quantification of urban expansion in both study sites.

November 2013 First Food Flow survey

Hanna Karg and Edmund Kyei Akoto-Danso conducted the first food flow survey in Tamale. The survey will be repeated three more times in Tamale and twice in Ouagadougou and cover both peak and lean season.