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University of Amsterdam (2013)

A food plate in transition : implications for food and nutrition security in rural Southwest Kenya

Noack A.-L.

Titre : A food plate in transition : implications for food and nutrition security in rural Southwest Kenya

Auteur : Noack A.-L.

Université de soutenance : University of Amsterdam

Grade : Master International Development Studies 2013

Résumé
Food security and malnutrition are often lauded as crises that threaten to compromise human and ecological health and to exacerbate economic and social inequalities within and between developing and developed countries. Despite being integrated, multi-disciplinary, and multi-scalar issues, they are often tackled in isolation through single-sector interventions to maximize immediate impact and cost-efficiency - e.g. production-based agricultural interventions to curb macro nutrient deficiencies and health programs that distribute supplements to reduce micro nutrient deficiencies. These technical approaches reflect a simplified conceptualization of food and nutrition security as micro and macro nutrient deficiencies largely ignoring the social dynamics and historical trends that often underlay the immediate causes and effects of food and nutrition insecurity. Due to the continued prevalence of under-nutrition in sub-Saharan Africa, where twenty-seven percent of the population is deemed undernourished (FAO, 2012), integrated food-based and nutrition-sensitive approaches are increasingly recognized and imperative ; furthermore, this thesis calls for a socially-cognizant approach. Drawing on five-months field-research in 2012 in Luchululo sub-location among a population of poor smallholder farmers in rural Southwest Kenya, this study is framed by the Human Wellbeing Approach to capture the social dynamics of food (in)security in an area where the food plate is rapidly narrowing towards a high-calorie low nutrient diet and where over 80% of households experience food shortages at least once a year. Conclusions suggest that conventional approaches inadequately capture the social significance of food preferences and underestimate how the local function of food and the practices that emerge therefrom (e.g. food conservation measures) can affect the regularity of meals and their composition. The findings allow us to re-examine the concept of food security and to complement emerging research and program development for a more cohesive approach to tackle food and nutrition insecurity.

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