Research project

The migration-food insecurity nexus in contexts of precarious arrival: challenges and barriers of food security for forced migrants in Panama and Honduras

Project overview

Food insecurity levels and hunger among migrants, and forced migrants in particular, create new, and exacerbate existing, vulnerabilities of populations in displacement, while seriously undermining conditions for meeting SDG goals and the human rights of forced migrants and refugees. This is even more the case in developing countries in the South that recently faced a new and fast-growing migration flow, particularly from Venezuela. Previous research conducted by Riggirozzi and colleagues in Latin America shows that humanitarian policies and programmes at reception centres and areas of arrival (after experiencing often dangerous conditions through irregular crossings) tend to focus on immediate shelter and emergency healthcare but less on redressing issues of food insecurity. Most food provided by state and non-state organisations actually tends to be packed and ready-made, and not necessarily nutritionally balanced nor culturally-sensitive (Riggirozzi et al 2023). Yet, restrictive migration policies and precarity in arrival and settlement contexts can compound with other cultural, social, political, and economic conditions to affect negatively the food security and health of displaced persons.
This project explores the migration-food (in)security among displaced populations across two different border settings, the Centre for Attention to Returned Migrants (CAMR) in Omoa, Honduras, where forced returned migrants arrive by land from Mexico; and Las Lajas where forced migrants arrive in Panama from Colombia after crossing the Darien gap.
The proposed project extends current work produced by the ESRC funded project ReGHID, which focused on health inequalities in migration in Latin America and build from current political and humanitarian pressures identified in order to conduct exploratory work with a focus on food insecurity. A ReGHID survey conducted between 2021-2022 with 2012 migrant women in Brazil and with 1535 in Central America reported hunger, gender-based violence, the collapse of health services, and poverty as main reasons for fleeing in Latin America. Qualitative and quantitative research in the context of that research led to the identification of health needs and barriers to access to healthcare during displacement, at border reception and in settlement. We now want to follow up to explore food insecurity and its intersection with health inequalities for humanitarian and policy responses.
Food insecurity among migrant populations has been an emerging focus of attention in high-income nations (Maynard et al 2019), yet the migration-food security nexus is still under researched in ODA countries in South-South corridors of migration (Crawley 2021). This project will conduct exploratory research to begin to fill this gap


Lead researcher

Professor Pia Riggirozzi

Head of Department

Research interests

  • Political economy of development
  • Global governance and international development
  • Rights-based approaches to health and welfare
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Other researchers

Dr Natalia Cintra

Research Fellow

Research interests

  • Forced Migration
  • Latin America
  • Race
Connect with Natalia

Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups

Research outputs