Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)
Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

Urbanization, livestock systems and food security in developing countries: A systematic review of the literature

Abu Hatab, Assem; Cavinato, Maria Eduarda Rigo; Lagerkvist, Carl Johan


This study systematically reviews the peer-reviewed literature on livestock production and food security in urbanizing environments of developing countries to synthesize the existing evidence and identify priorities for future research. Specifically, a systematic literature review was undertaken using PubMed, ISI Web of Science and Scopus databases over the period 1980-2017, resulting in a final number of 72 articles meeting our selection criteria. The results revealed a fragmentation in the literature, which draws from a very small number of studies, and is positioned in widely varied research areas, environments, livestock systems and consumption patterns. With such heterogeneity, drawing generalizations from the literature may be unreachable. Furthermore, the literature is largely qualitative in nature, with very few comprehensive models to capture and integrate empirical evidence. Food security was typically found to be narrowly defined, focusing primarily on interlinks with livestock supply. Considerably less attention has been given to other relevant dimensions of food security, such as accessibility, utilization and stability. Another important finding of relevance to food security is a need to address the missing middle in livestock value chains since the literature has customarily concentrated extensively on the two ends of the livestock value chain, i.e., on production and consumption, while widely ignoring other elements and actors along the value chain. A further focus on the interrelationships between livestock production, food security and urbanization in developing countries through a holistic and interdisciplinary approach is recommended. Particularly, future research aiming to understand livestock systems in the context of rapid urbanization should put more emphasis on addressing the full continuum of the livestock value chain and the four dimensions that drive food security in developing countries and how they possibly interrelate.


Urban sprawl; Peri-urban; Sustainable livestock production; Animal-source food; Livelihood

Published in

Food Security
2019, Volume: 11, number: 2, pages: 279-299
Publisher: SPRINGER

      SLU Authors

      • Associated SLU-program


        Sustainable Development Goals

        SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities
        SDG2 Zero hunger
        SDG17 Partnerships for the goals

        UKÄ Subject classification

        Food Science
        Animal and Dairy Science

        Publication identifier


        Permanent link to this page (URI)