Call edition 2012

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Household food security in rural Tanzania (Kilosa District)

Ine MAENHOUT student laureate

°1977 Belgium
Bio-engineer agricultural sciences, Universiteit Gent, Belgium, 2001

Voedselzekerheid op huishoudelijk niveau in ruraal Tanzania (Kilosa District)

Ine Maenhout studied the household food security in the village of Ilonga. The objective of her thesis was twofold. On the one hand, the research was to be framed within the broader project: " Iron bioavailability and nutritional evaluation of an optimised complementary food in Tanzania (Kilosa district)". On the other, the study had to provide a conceptual contribution to the design and improvement of actions for sustainable development in Third World countries.
The concept of food security, as formulated by the World Bank, was Ine Maenhout’s starting point: access by all people at all times to enough food for an active and healthy life. This definition clearly defines the basic elements of food security, not its testability, however. Therefore, Ine Maenhout suggested a personal and interdisciplinary approach. She developed a causal model in order to identify the source mechanisms of the problems. The central focus of the model is on the nutritive conditions of young children. This aspect is beyond the scope of this thesis, however, and Ine Maenhout concentrates on the subject of food security conditions among families in Ilonga. Six essential food sources were predominantly investigated: production, stocks, purchase, hunt, barter and donations.
Indicators for each of the aspects are either found in the literature or obtained from own inquiries. It goes without saying that agriculture is the backbone of the activities, the major part being subsistence agriculture to provide for oneself. Ine Maenhout concludes that the production of a larger part of the population is insufficient to reach the next harvest; 80 % of the population faces this problem. These people are poorly educated, and do not generally earn a fixed income. Food consumption data revealed shortage of fat, which could be remedied by additional sunflower oil.
Undoubtedly, food security is problematic for the studied families. The effect of poor revenues is highest during the pre-harvest periods, when a majority of the stocks is exhausted. Yields that are too low result from lacking manpower, capital and education, as well as from significant losses during storage of the products. Ine Maenhout states this should be improved. She also strongly recommends the consumption of additional food. This can be realized through an awareness campaign among the local population, since major components of additional food, such as millet or peanuts, are but exceptionally harvested in that area.
The thesis gives evidence of a sound scientific approach, personal devotion and initiative and lots of enthusiasm.

report by Prof. Dr. L. Goeyens, Scientific Institute for Public Health, Brussels, Belgium