Mental models of food security in rural Mali uri icon


  • Recent estimates indicate that 12% of the global population is likely to have suffered from chronic hunger, due to lack of enough food for an active and healthy life. West Africa, specifically across the Sahel countries, is acutely vulnerable to food insecurity concerns. Mail is emblematic of this problem with approximately 4.6 million citizens considered food insecure. Food security poses formidable challenges. Studies have shown that in order to understand food insecurity and identify steps for effective intervention, there is a need to apprehend the food systems and food in/security in a holistic way beyond production alone. Understanding the behavioral aspects of food security is critical in the African context where agriculture, while oriented toward basic subsistence, remains embedded in social system including the social dynamics of households, extended families, and communities. This exploratory work focuses on developing a nuanced understanding of food security and adaptive behaviors to current challenges to food security at the household level with a distinct focus on inter- and intra-family behavioral dynamics in rural, southern Mali. Using mental models methodology, we developed two influence diagrams and a set of sub-models that represent rural households? mental models of food security under traditional conditions and under conditions of external pressures. These models suggest that food security in rural Mali is at considerable risk due to the influence of external challenges, such as climate change, on traditional behaviors and a lack of easily accessible corresponding behavioral adaptations

publication date

  • 2017
  • 2018