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Altered social cohesion and adverse psychological experiences with chronic food insecurity in the non-market economy and complex households of Burkina Faso


  • Nanama, Siméon
  • Frongillo, Edward A.


Food insecurity negatively impacts outcomes in adults and children including parenting practices, child development, educational achievement, school performance, diet, and nutritional status. Ethnographic and quantitative research suggests that food insecurity affects well-being not only through the lack food, poor diet, and hunger, but also through social and psychological consequences that are closely linked to it. These studies are limited in number, and have mostly been carried out in contexts with market economies where household access to food depends almost solely on income. This study considers the social and psychological experiences closely linked to food insecurity in northern Burkina Faso, a context marked by subsistence farming, chronic food insecurity with a strong seasonal pattern, and a complex social structure. A total of 33 men and women from ten households were interviewed in February 2001 using semi-structured interview guides. Data were analyzed following the principles of thematic analysis. Food insecurity is closely linked with consequences such as concern, worries, and anxiety that ultimately lead to weight and sleep loss. Food insecurity results in feelings of alienation (e.g., shame) and deprivation (e.g., guilt), and alters household cohesion leading to disputes and difficulties keeping children at home. Decisions made by household members to manage and cope with food insecurity are shaped by their fear of alienation and other cultural and social norms. These findings, although derived from data collected 10 years ago before the 2008 food and fuel crises, remain valid in the study context, and emphasize the importance of social and psychological consequences closely linked to food insecurity and their negative impact on the well-being at both individual and household levels in contexts of non-market economy and chronic food insecurity. Attention to these non-nutritional consequences will improve the design, implementation, and evaluation of food insecurity programs in this and similar contexts.

Suggested Citation

  • 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, vol. 74(3), pages 444-451.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:74:y:2012:i:3:p:444-451 DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.11.009

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Tsai, Alexander C. & Bangsberg, David R. & Frongillo, Edward A. & Hunt, Peter W. & Muzoora, Conrad & Martin, Jeffrey N. & Weiser, Sheri D., 2012. "Food insecurity, depression and the modifying role of social support among people living with HIV/AIDS in rural Uganda," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(12), pages 2012-2019.
    2. Muzi Na & Alden L. Gross & Lee S. F. Wu & Bess L. Caswell & Sameera A. Talegawkar & Amanda C. Palmer, 2016. "Internal validity of the Food Access Survey Tool in assessing household food insecurity in rural Zambia," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 8(3), pages 679-688, June.


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