A qualitative pilot study of food insecurity among Maasai women in Tanzania
Background: Food insecurity is an ongoing threat in rural sub-Saharan Africa and is complicated by cultural practices, the rise of chronic
conditions such as HIV and land use availability. In order to develop a successful food security intervention program, it is important to be informed of the realities and needs of the target population. The purpose of this study was to pilot a qualitative method to understand food insecurity based on the lived experience of women of the Maasai population in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area of Tanzania.
Methods: Short semi-structured qualitative interviews with 4 Maasai women.
Results: Food insecurity was present in the Maasai community: the participants revealed that they did not always have access to safe and nutritious food that met the needs of themselves and their families. Themes that emerged from the data fell into three categories: Current practices (food sources, planning for enough, food preparation, and food preservation), food Insecurity (lack of food, emotions, coping strategies, and possible solutions), and division (co-wives, food distribution, and community relationships).
Conclusion:This pilot study suggested the presence of food insecurity in the Maasai community. Larger sample studies are needed to clarify the extent and severity of food insecurity among this population. Having a detailed understanding of the various aspects of the food insecurity lived experience could inform a targeted intervention program.
Key words: Food security, food supply, human rights, qualitative research, Eastern Africa