Coping with household food insecurity : a longitudinal and seasonal study among the Otammari in North - Western Benin

M.J. van Liere

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


<p>A longitudinal and seasonal study was designed to examine the relationships between, at one hand, coping with food insecurity and socio-economic characteristics at household level and, at the other hand, food consumption, time allocation and nutritional status at individual level in a unimodal climate in north-western Benin.</p><p>Body weight of men and women was frequently measured during two consecutive years. Body weight fluctuations of 5-6% occurred but variation in seasonal body weight fluctuation could not be explained by socio-econornic household characteristics. Neither a relationship was found between household cereal stock, indicating the level of household food security, and individual seasonal body weight fluctuation. It appeared that households with sufficient and insufficient cereal stock differed in their coping behaviour pattern. However this was not reflected in differences in seasonal body weight loss. Households with insufficient cereal stock made more use of coping behaviour such as gathering wild foods, selling livestock, seasonal migration and reduction of number of meals or fasting. Dietary changes at individual level during the preharvest period were characterized by a decreased cereal intake, an increased consumption of pulses and tubers and an increased consumption of food gifts, purchased foods and wild foods. Children seemed to be protected in times of seasonal food insecurity by a more favourable food allocation. Gender differences in subsistence task distribution showed more working hours for women compared to men, combining home production with field production tasks. Men were mainly responsible for food production and assistance at work parties. In times of seasonal food insecurity women were more engaged in coping with this adverse situation than men.</p><p>It may be concluded that household food insecurity does not necessarily lead to food insecurity at individual level since it can be favourably counterbalanced by local coping behaviour. Ibis conclusion confirms that development projects to promote household food security should take seriously into consideration an enforcement of existing local coping behaviour patterns rather than a replacement by innovations from outside.</p>
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Hautvast, J.G.A.J., Promotor
  • den Hartog, A.P., Promotor, External person
Award date19 Nov 1993
Place of PublicationS.l.
Print ISBNs9789054851752
Publication statusPublished - 1993


  • feeding habits
  • food hygiene
  • nutritional state
  • consumption patterns
  • foods
  • food production
  • food
  • meals
  • female labour
  • women workers
  • women
  • work
  • employment
  • Benin
  • famine
  • food shortages
  • shortage


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