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Mobile technology and food access

Agricultural Communications Documentation Center (ACDC)
Wantchekon, Leonard (main author), Riaz, Zara (author)
Online journal article
Publication Date:
USA: Science Direct
Agricultural Communications Documentation Center, Funk Library, University of Illinois
Subject Term:
communication analysis, food security, government, information flow, information needs, infrastructure, politics, rural communication, social networks, mobile communication, survey research, information communication technology, mobile technology, food crisis, food access, Sub-Saharan Africa, political participation, communication flows
13 pages., Via online journal., Access to food is a basic pillar of human development. It is therefore unsurprising that it features so centrally on global development agendas and that a robust, interdisciplinary literature seeks to examine its determinants. This study focuses on the relationship between mobile technology and food access. Specifically, we ask whether mobile technology can strengthen the relationship between food access and certain social and political factors such as remittance flows and political participation. We use Afrobarometer surveys and highly disaggregated data on 2G network coverage to estimate a multilevel model testing how increased connectivity measured by mobile technology influences food access. We show that mobile phone use and higher frequency of use are significantly and positively correlated with food access, but we do not find evidence that remittances and political participation levels can explain the mechanisms linking mobile technology and food access. The study highlights that connectivity can play a powerful role in shaping food outcomes even when controlling for commonly identified impediments such as income constraints or physical isolation. These findings suggest that policies aimed at improving food access should devote attention to strengthening both communication and physical infrastructure.