Migration, stress and the challenges of accessing food: An exploratory study of the experience of recent afghan women refugees in adelaide, Australia

Foorough Kavian, Kaye Mehta, Eileen Willis, Lillian Mwanri, Paul Ward, Sue Booth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This study explored the migration and food experiences of Afghani women refugees residing in Adelaide, South Australia for 2 years or less. In-depth semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 10 women between May and September 2017. The data were thematically analysed, and the Social Determinants of Health Framework was used to discuss the findings. Five key themes emerged from the data. In the transition country (Iran/Pakistan), respondents experienced (i) trauma, discrimination and exclusion and (ii) familiar food culture, but food stress. In the destination country (Adelaide, Australia) respondents experienced (iii) a sense of precariousness, (iv) unfamiliar food culture and (v) challenges in accessing halal food. Afghani refugees experienced considerable stressors both in the transition and the final destination country but for different reasons. In the transition country, stresses related to the lack of social services and support, discrimination, racism and poverty seemed to have affected their ability to afford food. In Australia stressors pertaining to socioeconomic, housing and employment precariousness, as well as difficulties in accessing halal foods were identified as challenges. Furthermore, food stress in Australia was associated with the cultural appropriateness of food, the complexity of the food system, and the women’s lack of skills and experiences in navigating the food system. With increasing refugee and immigration flows globally, it is necessary to acknowledge how food and social determinants intersect for refugee immigrants to ensure positive health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1379
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited


  • Refugees
  • Afghani Women
  • Migration
  • Food Access
  • Afghani women
  • Food access


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