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Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) is a widespread livelihood in low- and middle-income countries, however many in ASM communities face high levels of poverty and malnutrition. The food environments in ASM communities have non-agricultural rural characteristics that differ from those in urban and subsistence rural areas examined in much existing food environment literature.
We examine these complex external and personal food environments in ASM communities via a study using qualitative and quantitative methods. Market surveys and a cross-sectional household survey, plus qualitative mining site non-participant observations and in-depth structured interviews, were conducted in three waves.
Eighteen study sites in ASM communities in northern Guinea.
Surveys covered mothers in mining households with young children (n=613); in-depth interviews engaged mothers of young children (n=45), food vendors (n=40), and young single miners (n=15); observations focused on mothers of young children (n=25).
The external food environment in these ASM communities combines widespread availability of commercially-processed and staple-heavy foods with lower availability and higher prices for more nutritious, non-staple foods. Within the personal food environment, miners are constrained in their food choices by considerable variability in daily cash income and limited time for acquisition and preparation.
We demonstrate that ASM communities have characteristics of both urban and rural populations and argue for greater nuance and appreciation of complexity in food environment research and resultant policy and programming.
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