The Cali Metropolitan Area, the third-largest city in Colombia with 2.5 million inhabitants, boasts a diversified and thriving economy. However, its agri-food system grapples with significant challenges, including marked inequalities, limited food diversity, restricted access to healthy options, malnutrition concerns (both hunger and overweight), a heavy reliance on imported food, and vulnerability to climate change impacts.

Most of the population is under 40, with high unemployment (18 percent) and poverty rates (45 percent) among individuals aged 15 to 24. Approximately 54 percent of the population faces food insecurity, coexisting with a high prevalence of overweight or obesity. Only 38 percent of households can afford a healthy diet, and merely 33 out of every 100 children have a minimally acceptable diet.

There are several programs in Cali aimed at reducing youth unemployment and increasing food security. The development plan ‘Cali united for life’ 2020-2023 includes a specific program for food security, including waste management, ecological footprint reduction and a circular economy. And the Cali city-region coalition supports a multi-actor platform on food security.

Fondation Botnar is funding the project: ‘Vivo mi Calle’ implemented by Fundación DESPACIO, SENSATA and WRI. Urban Futures is also working with the lead of Fundación SIDOC, convening powerful local players such as Cali Como Vamos, PROPacífico, Plataforma Juventudes Cali, COLSemillas, the Cali Agro Ecological Gardens Network, and Compromiso Valle, among others.