Good Food for Cities

Building sustainable and resilient 'Food Hubs' in Lima and Quito

March 21, 2024

Everyone has the right to healthy, sustainable and culturally appropriate food. Yet many people still can't call this their reality. Rikolto and a consortium of organisations, Ecosad, the FUNSAD Foundation and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) are working to change this through a participatory and collaborative research project. Their objective is to explore the potential of 'food hubs' or 'neighbourhoods' in creating resilient urban food systems in Quito and Lima.

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Quito, Ecuador: neighbourhoods of Quitumbe and Eloy Alfaro. In Lima, Peru: the districts of Lurín, Pachacámac and Carabayllo, especially the valleys of Lurín and Chillón.

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Participatory action research project to understand how food hubs work and their potential to contribute to improving the resilience of the food production, distribution and access system.

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2021- 2023


In broader discussions about food systems, we often overlook the importance of local neighbourhoods. It's within these neighbourhoods that we see actors and dynamics at play that often go unnoticed when we focus solely at the city or national level. In this context, urban gardens, market stalls and community cooking initiatives become increasingly important when we consider their role in providing proximity and accessibility to food.  

For example, through these urban gardens or community cooking initiatives, local markets, fairs and participatory platforms, thousands of people in Quito and Lima found access to food during the Covid 19 pandemic. This responded to widespread fears that food would become scarce. In some cases, however, food access in these initiatives didn't always translate into healthy options.

In the cities of Lima and Quito, people faced new challenges during the pandemic, adding to existing problems of restricted mobility due to quarantine and overcrowded markets. Such challenges, such as the availability of and access to healthy food for every citizen, reflected a mix of emerging problems and deeper, more structural issues. Metropolitan areas had experienced significant disruptions before. Roadblocks, strikes, landslides or earthquakes had affected food availability and access. But nothing compared to the scale of disruption caused by the pandemic...

Our approach

This participatory action research project aims to understand how "food hubs" work and their potential to create linkages between "food hubs" that can potentially contribute to improving the resilience of the food production, distribution and accessibility to healthy, nutrititous and sustainable food.

What are 'food hubs'?

In this context, we use the concept of 'food hubs', which are walkable spaces (15 blocks) configured around a food centrality (e.g. a food market) and connected by neighbours' relationships with food, regardless of the city's administrative areas. They reflect the link between food supply and demand in the urban area. A neighbourhood can include a district, part of a district or several districts.

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Expected results

Food hubs have the potential to create collaborative systems between producers and consumers around healthy food. These collaborations could increase the resilience and sustainability of the city's food system. Through this project we hope to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Understanding urban food systems' response to pandemic: We aim to gain a deeper understanding of how urban food systems adapted during the pandemic, with a focus on ensuring access to nutritious food for the most vulnerable populations.
  • Identify and advocate for systemic improvements: Our goal is to identify areas for improvement in the responsiveness of food systems, not only to the challenges posed by Covid-19, but also to potential future crises resulting from various disruptions.
  • Engage and empower urban and peri-urban stakeholders: We seek to engage and support urban and peri-urban farmers, consumers and local authorities in the development of food fubs that facilitate healthier diets for residents.
  • Assessing the potential and constraints of food hubs: We will assess the feasibility and limitations of food hubs, while exploring opportunities for networking and exploring other innovative solutions.
  • Effective communication of results: We aim to disseminate research findings to both the scientific community and the wider public. We also aim to translate these findings into actionable policy proposals that promote informed governance of food systems.
Food hubs" are walkable spaces (15 blocks) that are configured around a food centrality (e.g. a food market).

"The contribution of projects like this lies both in the possibility of drafting a municipal ordinance - which is a valuable precedent for further political advocacy - and in creating formal (alliances) or informal (collectives, networks) spaces for organisations and people who share the same vision and mutual trust to promote deeper transformations."

Alain Santandreu - project coordinator.

Who do we work with?

Impact and network of partners

A network of allied agencies and organisationsis implementing the project in Lima and Quito, includes:

  • Sub Gerencia de Desarrollo Productivo de la Municipalidad Metropolitana de Lima.
  • Peruvian Network of OrganicAgriculture (RAE Peru).
  • Peruvian Agroecological Consortium (CAP).
  • Secretariat for Productive Development and Competitiveness of the Metropolitan Municipality of Quito.
  • General Planning Secretariat of theMunicipality of the Metropolitan District of Quito (Secretaría General dePlanificación del Municipio del Distrito Metropolitano de Quito)
  • Quito Economic Promotion Agency (Conquito)
  • Cooperativa Sur Siendo Redes y Sabores (Cooperative Sur Siendo Redes y Sabores).


Mariela Wismann

Good Food for Cities programme director in Latin America | Regional director

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