Work Package 5: Understanding and influencing agency and behavior change

Contacts: Sarah Freed (Alliance Bioversity-CIAT), Anne Rietveld (Alliance Bioversity-CIAT) 

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The WP5 team developed an innovation to identify agency and behavior change entry points for agri-food system transformation (the agri-food system transformation or ACT framework) and applied it to synthesize key lessons on the change process that can drive agroecological transitions (Kenya, Peru, Tunisia, and Zimbabwe published briefs), building on the findings from past initiatives in ALL countries. A report is due in 2024 and will expand on lessons to achieve change:

  • All country initiatives were found to be targeting producers for behavior change, most often through technical assistance, training, demonstrations, and other approaches focused on individuals.
  • However, 46% of initiatives were perceived to have missed key entry points, thus impeding the intended behavior changes.
  • The behaviors of consumers and governance system actors were least often targeted and systemic approaches to influence agency and behavior change were least often applied, which is an avenue for future initiative work with work packages 3 and 4.
  • Ensuring market and value chain linkages, quality of partner and institutional support, social learning and collaboration among food system actors, and efforts to address power and agency in multi-stakeholder engagement were perceived to be key factors in achieving change.
Building food systems that provide healthy diets, based on local resources, food culture, gender equity: the case of fresh milk processing in Burkina Faso. Credit: E. Vall / CIRAD

Agroecological innovations were prioritized in eight countries through the vision-to-action exercise in collaboration with WP1. Five countries (Burkina Faso, Peru, Kenya, Tunisia, and Zimbabwe) have undertaken substantial research to understand food system actors’ agency, experiences, and behaviors in the agroecology transition, with data analysis still in progress. Related to this, Burkina Faso analyzed food system actors’ space for initiative.

The WP5 team is also focusing on understanding the different capacity and agency that actors in the ALLs possess because of their individual and collective identities and resource base which interlink with formal and informal institutions such as land inheritance laws and gender norms. Examples include participatory research on empowerment and agency among youth in agri-food systems (in Kenya, Zimbabwe, India, Peru, and Tunisia) and a study on the role of the foodscape, with a focus on food consumers, in sustainable and nutritious diets for rural farming communities (in Tunisia).

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