Food systems can be considered complex socio-ecological systems. They comprise interactions between the social and biophysical world that determine a set of activities from production through to consumption, and outcomes such as food security, social welfare and environmental impacts. Food systems are dominated by human needs and priorities, with food security as the desired normative outcome. The combination of high societal vulnerability and the extreme 2015/16 El Niño led to the widespread collapse of many remote food systems throughout Papua New Guinea. Communities exposed to drought and/or frost in addition to being isolated, geographically and politically, were most likely to suffer from severe food insecurity. Mimicking previous El Niño responses (e.g., 1971/2, 1982/3, 1996/7), an emergency food assistance distribution took place in the form of in-kind rice. This research endeavours to understand the causal vulnerability of two geographically and culturally distinct food systems to hazards and to examine how emergency food assistance has affected underlying vulnerability of these food systems to respond to future disaster events at different temporal and spatial scales.

Advisors:  Dr  Bradd Witt, Dr Karen McNamara

Project members

Guy Jackson


PhD candidate