Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Saving lives, preserving livelihoods: Understanding risk, decision-making and child health in a food crisis


Author Info

  • Hampshire, Katherine Rebecca
  • Panter-Brick, Catherine
  • Kilpatrick, Kate
  • Casiday, Rachel E.
Registered author(s):


    The purpose of this paper is to analyse household decision-making regarding resource allocation in the aftermath of a food crisis in rural Niger. International attention had resulted in humanitarian agencies launching emergency nutrition programmes to alleviate persistently high levels of acute child malnutrition. We conducted participant observation, 93 in-depth interviews, 15 focus groups, 44 feeding and illness histories for children under 5, and debriefing sessions with local humanitarian staff. The impetus for this study came from observations of marked intra-household differences in child growth and health status, despite the caregivers' ethos of treating children equally. Egalitarian input, however, does not always result in equal outcomes: vulnerable children become "victims of non-discrimination" through a form of benign neglect engendered by pervasive poverty. The ethos and practices of equal investment in children are rooted in a need to balance the perceived risks to children with the preservation of long-term livelihoods. We discuss the mismatch of views between external interventions, which focus on saving individual children's lives, and local priorities, aimed at spreading risk. This mismatch is rooted in the different ways in which humanitarian agencies and local communities weigh up risks and vulnerabilities in matters of child health.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 68 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 4 (February)
    Pages: 758-765

    as in new window
    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:68:y:2009:i:4:p:758-765

    Contact details of provider:
    Web page:

    Order Information:

    Related research

    Keywords: Intervention Child health Famine Risk Vulnerability Intra-household allocation Humanitarian aid Poverty Niger;


    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as in new window

    Cited by:
    1. Hadley, Craig & Linzer, Drew A. & Belachew, Tefera & Mariam, Abebe Gebre & Tessema, Fasil & Lindstrom, David, 2011. "Household capacities, vulnerabilities and food insecurity: Shifts in food insecurity in urban and rural Ethiopia during the 2008 food crisis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 73(10), pages 1534-1542.
    2. Piperata, Barbara A. & Schmeer, Kammi K. & Hadley, Craig & Ritchie-Ewing, Genevieve, 2013. "Dietary inequalities of mother–child pairs in the rural Amazon: Evidence of maternal-child buffering?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 183-191.
    3. Nanama, Siméon & Frongillo, Edward A., 2012. "Altered social cohesion and adverse psychological experiences with chronic food insecurity in the non-market economy and complex households of Burkina Faso," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 444-451.
    4. Richards, Esther & Theobald, Sally & George, Asha & Kim, Julia C. & Rudert, Christiane & Jehan, Kate & Tolhurst, Rachel, 2013. "Going beyond the surface: Gendered intra-household bargaining as a social determinant of child health and nutrition in low and middle income countries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 24-33.


    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


    Access and download statistics


    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:68:y:2009:i:4:p:758-765. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.