Considerations for food security interventions
Vanegas, Sarahi de los Ángeles Morales
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The current state of food insecurity worldwide has driven resources, research, and interventions into addressing the problem. It is considered one of the biggest challenges in the world (World Economic Forum, 2016). More knowledge is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of assistance programs aiming to address food insecurity, how interventions can be more effective by taking into account the population, and what cultural aspects can influence food security. This dissertation sought to explore existing interventions aiming to reduce food insecurity in two developing countries: South Africa and Honduras. The UNICEF conceptual framework of malnutrition (UNICEF, 1990) was used as the umbrella framework for understanding possible implications for food security interventions. The first study sought to investigate the role of traditional leaders in the implementation of food security projects in South Africa by understanding their role and how they influence projects in rural areas. In this study, the basic cause of the sociocultural context was examined. The observance of traditional leadership is part of the traditions followed in rural South Africa (Van Kessel & Oomen, 1997). In South Africa that involvement requires understanding the people’s traditions. The involvement of chiefs is fundamental to achieve success in interventions. Their approval and support facilitate the implementation of activities with the community and consequently contributes to advancing community food security. The second and third studies focused on assessing the food security impact of reopening a slaughterhouse in a rural area of Honduras, and evaluating the food groups consumed of the abattoir employees. In the first study, households assessed consistently reported experiencing food insecurity and conducting coping strategies that most likely hinder their nutritional status. Based on this, participants’ income contributes to increase the likelihood of experiencing food security by less than 1%. Meaning there are still a wide spectrum of factors that may be influencing the abattoir employees’ experience of food insecurity. In the second study, the dietary pattern of households assessed in Honduras was similar to previous findings in the country (Mejia-Arita, 2013; Menchú & Méndez, 2012). But the richest households reported a higher frequency of consuming all food groups and are likely to consume one additional food group. This higher frequency and additional food group may represent an important source of macro and micro nutrients. Dietary diversity was found to increase by owning a refrigerator and increasing household income. But, it declines as household size increases. The studies conducted in Honduras provide a snapshot of an agricultural intervention aiming to enhance productivity while reducing poverty and unemployment, and increasing food security. The findings in both studies suggest agricultural investments provide an increased access to income. This may reduce some of the food insecurity experience. The increased income does not necessarily translate into an increase in dietary diversity.