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

L. W. Gichaga United States of America
30.10.2013
L. W.

Excited to find this intriguing topic on #FoodSecurity and #SocialRelations:

First, reading through the intro, I notice that just as food has been important to all generations, the means to acquire food may not have fundamentally changed but instead, there has been replacement of the means of exchange and acquisition of food by individuals and families. 

On social relations and networks in food and nutritional security, I’ll throw the gender factor that is quite apparent! There has been a lot of talk of women being the main producers of food as small scale farmers but there is more to that. I can argue that a household’s food security and nutrition is managed by the one who controls food acquisition, food storage, food portions (think nutrition, obesity …), recycling, and controlling wastage. For example, I recall that there used to be local training for mothers about food security and nutrition and it literally changed our diet at home and the nature of our kitchen garden. My recollection of first learning about food groups and nutrition began then when my mom got involved with such a local group. Food wastage habits that we had earlier - say eating an entire banana bunch of 20 at one occasion, ceased with education that we could stretch them to provide [[new term then!]] fruit/vitamin for an entire week. This applies to many other areas like meat portions, storage ideas, recycling.

Point: Since the lady of the house is the most influential figure in decisions about food usage, strong social relations supported by education in general and specifically by what I call ‘food-literacy’ has an impact on household food security and by extension a nation’s.

Stability in social relations is crucial to strengthen the roles in the household for attaining and maintaining food security and nutrition.  The male and female contributions are daily synchronized roles that are both crucial. The reverse will reveal the depth of this idea. Instability in social relations through external (read political) and internal conflict (read family) will stifle food availability, and nutritional planning for a healthy life, or introduce wastage, wrong choices, then depreciate to higher vulnerability, the story goes on …

 Challenges facing social relations and networks in food and nutritional security are all related to poverty. Land ownership, literacy, purchasing power … Lowering a household vulnerability through elevating the family’s’ lifestyle is a regional and national mandate, as well as individual household mandate through seeking self-improvement avenues. The civil society and private sector must be sensitized to the issue of food security and nutrition through FSN-supportive health campaigns and government policy (from food standards, safety, prices protection….), so as to make it a cultural priority to defend the individual household’s FSN.

Great forum. Thanks.