JUNE 7, 2024 | Colombo Urban Lab
Methodology for Mapping Urban Food Environments

The Institute of Development Studies and Colombo Urban Lab led part of FRESH in Sri Lanka and sought to understand how working class communities in two areas of the capital city of Colombo experience their food environment. Mapping food vendors was one part of an integrated approach  which also featured interviews with households and vendors and participatory photography. Mapping food vendors is an important method to capture availability, accessibility and diversity of food environments.

This report details the methodology used to map food vendors in these urban sites and explores the reasons behind the development of this methodology. It provides practical insights into the implementation of field-based vendor mapping, discussing both the challenges encountered and the lessons learned. There is a notable lack of research on food environments in lower and middle-income countries (LMIC), especially in South Asia. Existing methodologies from the global North often prove unsuitable for these contexts due to the lack of digitised data and the informal nature of retail environments. This document aims to serve as a foundational guide for future projects seeking to understand and study food environments in the cities of the global south.

Read the full report here.

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