Mental models of food security in rural Mali

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10

Change history

  • 28 March 2018

    The original version of this article unfortunately contained an error. The acknowledgement section is inadvertently omitted. The missing acknowledgement is given below.

Notes

  1. 1.

    Lucidchart is an online model creation software package that allows multiple individuals to work on the same model collectively or individually.

References

  1. Aberman N, Ali S, Behrman JA, Bryan E, Davis P, Donnelly A, Gathaara V, Kone D, Nganga T, Ngugi J, Okoba B, Roncoli C (2015) Climate change adaptation assets and group-based approaches: gendered perceptions from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Mali, and Kenya. http://ebrary.ifpri.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15738coll2/id/128950. Accessed 19 April 2017

  2. Adams A (1993) Food insecurity in Mali: exploring the role of the moral economy. IDS Bull 24(4):41–51

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Adger WN (2010) Climate change, human well-being and insecurity. New Political Econ 15(2):275–292

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Adger WN, Barnett J, Brown K, Marshall N, O’Brien K (2013) Cultural dimensions of climate change impacts and adaptation. Nat Clim Change 3:112–117

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Alliance R (2009). Adaptive capacity

  6. Allen CD, Savage M, Falk DA, Suckling KF, Swetnam TW, Schulke T, Stacey PB, Morgan P, Hoffman M, Klingel JT (2002) Ecological restoration of southwestern ponderosa pine ecosystems: a broad perspective. Ecol Appl 12:1418–1433

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Barrett CB (2010) Measuring food insecurity. Science 327:825–828. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1182768

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Becker LC (1990) The collapse of the family farm in West Africa? Evidence from Mali. Geogr J 156:313–322

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Benjaminsen TA, Aune JB, Sidibé D (2010) A critical political ecology of cotton and soil fertility in Mali. Geoforum 41:647–656

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Biernacki P, Waldorf D (1981) Snowball sampling: problems and techniques of chain referral sampling. Soc Methods Res 10:141–163

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Bingen RJ, Robinson D, Staatz JM (2000) Democracy and development in Mali. Michigan State University Press, East Lansing. https://doi.org/10.14321/j.ctt15hvwv2

    Google Scholar 

  12. Brooks N (2004) Drought in the African Sahel: long term perspectives and future prospects. Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, Norwich, Working Paper, No. 61, p. 31

  13. Brown ME, Funk CC (2008) Food security under climate change. Science 319:580–581

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Butt TA, McCarl BA, Angerer J, Dyke PT, Stuth JW (2005) The economic and food security implications of climate change in Mali. Clim Change 68:355–378

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Cannon-Bowers JA, Salas E, Converse SA (1993) Shared mental models in expert team decision making. In: Castellan NJ Jr (ed) Current issues in individual and group decision making. Psychology Press, New York, pp 221–246

    Google Scholar 

  16. Craik K (1943) The nature of explanation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  17. de Haen H, Stephan Klasen S, Matin Qaim M (2011) What do we really know? Metrics for food insecurity and undernutrition. Food Policy 36:760–769

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. de Suarez JM, Suarez P, Bachofen C, Fortugno N, Goentzel J, Gonçalves P, Grist N, Macklin C, Pfeifer K, Schweizer S, van Aalst M, Virji H (2012) Games for a new climate: experiencing the complexity of future risks. Pardee Center Task Force Report

  19. European Commission’s Directorate—General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (2016) ECHO factsheet—Sahel: food & nutrition crisis. http://ec.europa.eu/echo/files/aid/countries/factsheets/sahel_en.pdf. Accessed 19 April 2017

  20. FAO (2009) Declaration of the world summit on food security: FAO. http://www.fao.org/wsfs/world-summit/en/?no_cache=1. Accessed 24 August 2017

  21. FAO, IFAD, WFP (2013) The state of food Insecurity in the world 2013: the multiple dimensions of food security. http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3434e/i3434e.pdf. Accessed 19 April 2017

  22. Fisher-Vanden K, Wing IS, Lanzi E, Popp D (2013) Modeling climate change feedbacks and adaptation responses: recent approaches and shortcomings. Clim Change 117(3):481–495

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Gentner D (1983) Structure-mapping: a theoretical framework for analogy. Cognit Sci 7:155–170

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Grothmann T, Patt A (2005) Adaptive capacity and human cognition: the process of individual adaptation to climate change. Glob Environ Chang 15(3):199–213

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Hanjra MA, Qureshi ME (2010) Global water crisis and future food security in an era of climate change. Food Policy 35:365–377

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Hatløy A, Hallund J, Diarra MM, Oshaug A (2000) Food variety, socioeconomic status and nutritional status in urban and rural areas in Koutiala (Mali). Public Health Nutr 3:57–65

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Holling CS (1973) Resilience and stability of ecological systems. Ann Rev Ecol Evol Syst 4(1):1–23

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Hussein K (2002) Food security: rights, livelihoods and the World Food Summit—five years later. Soc Policy Adm 36:626–647

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Johns T, Sthapit BR (2004) Biocultural diversity in the sustainability of developing-country food systems. Food Nut Bul 25:143–155

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Jolly CM, Gadbois M (1996) The effect of animal traction on labour productivity and food self-sufficiency: the case of Mali. Agric Syst 51:453–467

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Kuyvenhoven A (2004) Creating an enabling environment: policy conditions for less-favored areas. Food Policy 29:407–429

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Laris P, Foltz JD, Voorhees B (2015) Taking from cotton to grow maize: the shifting practices of small-holder farmers in the cotton belt of Mali. Agric Syst 133:1–13

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Menezes F (2001) Food sovereignty: a vital requirement for food security in the context of globalization. Development 44(4):29–33

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Mertz O, Mbow C, Reenberg A, Diouf A (2009) Farmers’ perceptions of climate change and agricultural adaptation strategies in rural Sahel. Environ Manag 43:804–816

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Miller F, Osbahr H, Boyd E, Thomalla F, Bharwani S, Ziervogel G, Walker B, Birkmann J, Van der Leeuw S, Rockström J, Hinkel J, Downing T, Folke C, Nelson D (2010) Resilience and vulnerability: complementary or conflicting concepts? Ecol Soc 15(3):1–25

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Morgan MG, Fischhoff B, Bostrom A, Atman CJ (2002) Risk communication: a mental models approach. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  37. Nicholson SE, Tucker CJ, Ba MB (1998) Desertification, drought, and surface vegetation: an example from the West African Sahel. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 79(5):815–829

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Nielsen JØ, Reenberg A (2010) Cultural barriers to climate change adaptation: a case study from Northern Burkina Faso. Glob Environ Chang 10:142–152

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Osbahr H, Twyman C, Adger WN, Thomas DS (2008) Effective livelihood adaptation to climate change disturbance: scale dimensions of practice in Mozambique. Geoforum 39(6):1951–1964

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Pelling M, High C (2005) Social learning and adaptation to climate change. Benfield Hazard Research Centre, Disaster Studies Working Paper, No. 11, pp. 1–19

  41. Richards P (1990) Local strategies for coping with hunger: central Sierra Leone and Northern Nigeria compared. Afr Aff 89:265–275

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Roudier P, Sultan B, Quirion P, Berg A (2011) The impact of future climate change on West African crop yields: what does the recent literature say? Glob Environ Change 21(3):1073–1083

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Staatz JM (1994) The strategic role of food and agricultural systems in fighting hunger through fostering sustainable economic growth. Michigan State University. http://fsg.afre.msu.edu/scans/mali/sp%2094-39.pdf. Accessed 19 April 2017

  44. Staatz JM, D’Agostino VC, Sundberg S (1990) Measuring food security in Africa: conceptual, empirical, and policy issues. Am J Agric Econ 72:1311–1317

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Sultan B, Roudier P, Quirion P, Alhassane A, Muller B, Dingkuhn M, Ciais P, Guimberteau M, Traore S, Baron C (2013) Assessing climate change impacts on sorghum and millet yields in the Sudanian and Sahelian savannas of West Africa. Environ Res Lett 8:1–9

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Sylla MB, Elguindi N, Giorgi F, Wisser D (2016) Projected robust shift of climate zones over West Africa in response to anthropogenic climate change for the late 21st century. Clim Change 134:241–253

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Tappan G, McGahuey M (2007) Tracking environmental dynamics and agricultural intensification in southern Mali. Agric Syst 94:38–51

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Torheim LE, Ouattara F, Diarra MM, Thiam FD, Barikmo I, Hatløy A, Oshaug A (2004) Nutrient adequacy and dietary diversity in rural Mali: association and determinants. Eur J Clin Nutr 58:594–604

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Traore B, Corbeels M, van Wijk MT, Rufino MC, Giller KE (2013) Effects of climate variability and climate change on crop production in southern Mali. Eur J Agron 49:115–125

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Tschakert P (2007) Views from the vulnerable: understanding climatic and other stressors in the Sahel. Glob Environ Change 17:381–396

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. UN-OCHA (2012) Office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs (OCHA) annual report. https://www.unocha.org/publication/ocha-annual-report/ocha-annual-report-2012

  52. Walker B, Holling CS, Carpenter S, Kinzig A (2004) Resilience, adaptability and transformability in social–ecological systems. Ecol Soc. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-00650-090205

    Google Scholar 

  53. von Winterfeldt D, Edwards W (2007) Advances in decisanalysis: from foundations to applications. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  54. Whitley CT, Rivers III L, Mattes S Marquart-Pyatt ST, Ligmann-Zielinska A, Olabisi LS, Du J (2017) Climate-induced migration: using mental models to explore aggregate and individual decision-making. J Risk Res 20:1–17

  55. Wittig R, König K, Schmidt M, Szarzynski J (2007) A study of climate change and anthropogenic impacts in West Africa. Environ Sci Pollut Res 14:182–189

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Wood MD, Bostrom A, Bridges T, Linkov I (2012) Cognitive mapping tools: review and risk management needs. Risk Anal 32:1333–1348

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Wooten S (2003) Women, men, and market gardens: gender relations and income generation in rural Mali. Hum Organ 62:166–177

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Zaksek M, Arvai JL (2004) Toward improved iommunication about wildland fire: mental models research to identify information needs for natural resource management. Risk Anal 24:1503–1514

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Louie Rivers III.

Ethics declarations

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Additional information

A correction to this article is available online at https://doi.org/10.1007/s10669-018-9682-9.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Rivers III, L., Sanga, U., Sidibe, A. et al. Mental models of food security in rural Mali. Environ Syst Decis 38, 33–51 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10669-017-9669-y

Download citation

Keywords

  • Mental models
  • Food security
  • Climate change
  • Agriculture
  • Mali