What about human behavior? The case of urbanization and rice in Africa

De Vos, K., Janssens, C., Jacobs, L., Campforts, B., Boere, E., Kozicka, M. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2323-3689, Havlik, P. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5551-5085, Hemerijckx, L.-M., et al. (2023). What about human behavior? The case of urbanization and rice in Africa. In: EGU General Assembly 2023, 23-28 April 2023, Vienna.

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Concurrent with an extensive population growth, the African continent has experienced a vast urbanization trend over the last decades. In 2000, around 35% of the population resided in urban areas. By 2020, this share has increased to around 44% and is projected to increase even further by 2050 following the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSP) scenarios. Besides an important effect on local land use through urban expansion, this also affects food systems by shifting dietary patterns away from traditional diets towards imported or convenient goods. This is particularly the case for rice, which is predominantly imported from Southeast Asia, India, or Pakistan, and is gaining in popularity in African urban diets because of the low effort needed for cooking or storage – giving it a strong advantage over other staple crops. This dietary shift will alter trade dynamics, increase the pressure on local resources such as land, water, and fertilizer use, and subsequently also on biodiversity. In studies investigating the influence of urbanization, either the direct effect of urban expansion on land cover or the effects of dietary changes on demands are investigated, but rarely a combination or comparison of both. Particularly in impact studies or applications that focus on the synergy between water, land, and food-related issues, the dimension of human behavior, such as consumer preferences, is often overlooked.

In this study, we provide an initial projection of the expected future effects of both sprawl and shifting preferences for rice caused by urbanization on rice availability, land – and input use, rice-specific emissions, and trade dynamics. By combining micro-level data from household surveys stemming from the Living Standards Measurements Study (LSMS) with the partial equilibrium Global Biosphere Management Model (GLOBIOM) at an African scale, we were able to identify the relative contribution of land cover effects stemming directly from urban expansion and indirectly from dietary shifts caused by rural-urban migration and a divergence in income between urban and rural areas.

We indicate that while urban expansion only has a limited effect at the continental scale, the omission of any dietary shifts caused by urbanization substantially underestimates projections of African rice demand (by around 8% under an SSP2-scenario). This also results in subsequent underestimations of impacts on land use, trade dynamics, and rice-specific methane emissions. By this, our study exemplifies that consumer preferences are an essential component to understanding urbanization impacts, and that, by extension, human behavior is important to consider in impact and nexus studies.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Programs: Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR)
Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR) > Integrated Biosphere Futures (IBF)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2023 15:51
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2023 15:51
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/18744

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