Re: What is the role of social relations and networks in household food security and nutrition?


A view from one of them members in Group 4. 

I once heard a statement by a lecturer of mine that goes something like this “change is inevitable; everything changes, the only thing that doesn’t change is change itself”. The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, also said it brilliantly: “change alone is unchanging”.

Social relations as one of the most important contributors in obtaining nutritional food types is and has been pervasive mostly, if not only, in the rural areas.  It dates back to the era of bartering where economic animals survived from what was and still is known as subsistence farming and bartering. Obtaining nutritional foods through social relations differs, however, from bartering.  It is a cultural act that has the main trait, generosity, imbedded in it. Generosity in the sense that one does not contribute to ones nutritional diet with expecting a likely return as would be the case of bartering but by gaining self satisfaction from the act. This way of living, however, has been altered by the introduction of money and the likelihood of one being able to profit from selling a good at a higher value than its cost.  As a result of profit seeking, the pervasiveness of this cultural and generous act has depleted.

One of the main factors in Guyana that has been observed that is responsible for this change in behavior with regards to social relations as mentioned above is that of profit seeking. Often times it is the extra units beyond ones need that is ‘given’ to others through whatever social relations that may exist among the parties, but with the increase of information of the markets these surplus have been shifted from being ‘given’ to sold at a profit.  The demand for the surpluses is mostly attributed to the urban areas. As we move from a rural setting to a more urban setting, social relations tend to decrease and in order for one to survive and have a nutritional diet one must purchase those foods from supermarkets and the like as would have been brought out in the examples given by Group 7. The increase in urban settlers therefore increases the demand for agricultural produce and other nutritional foods produced in rural areas resulting in a decrease in the surplus that was once shared through social relations. Farmers in rural areas have now up their production in an effort to capitalize on the increase demand for their produce in urban cities.

Living in a community (Strathavon, Cane Grove; located in Region 4, Guyana) where social relations have been altered by those that are now seeking profits it still does not have a significant impact on the community as a whole. One still benefits at harvest time from receiving fruits and vegetables from neighbors. Even meats such as fish and even live chickens are shared among residents. It is a community where the social relations is so strong that at any point a neighbor or even a resident from a street away can send  and request  and obtain any required seasoning for their meal, fruits and the like from other residents at no cost to the recipient. The generosity has been present for years and is still present today primarily because it is a small community and everyone interacts on a regular basis. Rural areas are more likely to have high social relations among its members due to their small numbers and ever so often interactions. In contrast, urban areas are known to have large amount of settlers who have little time to interact with their surrounding people. Their social relations with others in close proximity tend to be less and thus produce a burden on them in regards to obtaining nutritional foods at low costs.


Likely soultions will follow