Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 879–892 | Cite as

Actor-specific risk perceptions and strategies for resilience building in different food systems in Kenya and Bolivia

  • Johanna JacobiEmail author
  • Stellah Mukhovi
  • Aymara Llanque
  • Daniela Toledo
  • Chinwe Ifejika Speranza
  • Fabian Käser
  • Horacio Augstburger
  • José Manuel Freddy Delgado
  • Boniface P. Kiteme
  • Stephan Rist
Original Article


Food system sustainability depends, among other aspects, on the resilience of different components of food systems. By resilience, we mean the ability of a food system to withstand stress and shocks, recover, and adapt to change. In this study, we examined the resilience of food systems, firstly, by compiling the risks perceived by different food system actors in the Santa Cruz Department, Bolivia, and the northwestern Mount Kenya Region, Kenya—two regions that are important to their respective national food supply. Secondly, we evaluated whether and under what circumstances these perceptions translate into adaptive or preventive strategies that benefit food system resilience. Among all actors, the most frequently perceived risks relate to production levels. Further, the many (sometimes contradictory) perceptions of risk and uncertainty among different actor groups do not necessarily translate into adaptation strategies. Reasons for this include structural factors as well as the “risk perception paradox”, particularly regarding preventive strategies. However, we also observed many implicit strategies illustrating how different actors develop responses within their possibilities. However, most such strategies were insufficient to mitigate, much less to adapt to, the perceived risks. To build resilience, existing innovative policies need to be enforced in both countries. These include disaster risk reduction programs and programs to reduce the vulnerability of marginalized groups who are crucial to food systems, such as smallholder farmers, pastoralists, and food workers.


Food systems Resilience Risk perceptions Strategies Bolivia Kenya 



The authors wish to thank all the participating food system actors, and Anu Lannen for language editing.

Funding information

This work was carried out within the Swiss Programme for Global Issues on Development (r4d programme) funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) [Grant number 400540_152033].

Supplementary material

10113_2018_1448_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (218 kb)
Online Resource 1 Food system actors studied in Bolivia (PDF 217 kb)
10113_2018_1448_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (221 kb)
Online Resource 2 Food system actors studied in Kenya (PDF 220 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johanna Jacobi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stellah Mukhovi
    • 2
  • Aymara Llanque
    • 3
  • Daniela Toledo
    • 4
  • Chinwe Ifejika Speranza
    • 1
    • 5
  • Fabian Käser
    • 6
  • Horacio Augstburger
    • 1
  • José Manuel Freddy Delgado
    • 3
  • Boniface P. Kiteme
    • 7
  • Stephan Rist
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)University of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Environmental StudiesUniversity of NairobiNairobiKenya
  3. 3.AgrucoUniversidad Mayor de San SimónCochabambaBolivia
  4. 4.Instituto de Antropología y ArqueologíaUniversidad Mayor de San AndrésLa PazBolivia
  5. 5.Institute of GeographyUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  6. 6.Institute of Social AnthropologyUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  7. 7.Centre for Training and Integrated Research in Arid and Semi-Arid Land DevelopmentNanyukiKenya

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