Empowered Women, Social Networks and the Contribution of Qualitative Research: Broadening our Understanding of Underlying Causes for Food and Nutrition Insecurity.

Stefanie Lemke, Fanie Jansen van Rensburg, Hester Hendrina Vorster, Joachim Ziche

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    44 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Objective: To investigate underlying causes for food and nutrition insecurity in black
    South African households and to gain understanding of the factors contributing to
    better nutrition security, with emphasis on household organisation, gender and intrahousehold
    dynamics and social networks.
    Design, setting and subjects: Within a larger cross-sectional survey that investigated
    the impact of urbanisation on the health of black South Africans, 166 people, mostly
    women, were interviewed on household food security. Methods used were structured
    face-to-face interviews, in-depth interviews, observation, interviews with key
    informants and a sociodemographic questionnaire. Information was collected from
    1998 to 2000 in 15 rural and urban areas of the North West Province, South Africa.
    Results: Three-quarters of households in this sample are chronically food-insecure.
    Families are disrupted, due to migrant work, poverty and increasing societal violence,
    and half of households are female-headed. Certain categories of female-headed
    households and households based on partnership relationships, despite more limited
    resources, achieve a better or an equal economic status and better nutrition security
    than those households led by men, with the latter often being considered an
    economic liability. The reliance on and fostering of social ties and networks appear to
    be of central significance.
    Conclusion: Gender and intra-household relations, as well as social networks and
    income from informal sector activities, are often not uncovered by conventional
    statistical methods. Qualitative research can reveal the unexpected and furthermore
    empowers people, as their voices are heard.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)759-764
    Number of pages6
    JournalPublic Health Nutrition
    Volume8
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2003

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