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Unravelling community clustering in Chad

This is a summary of the following report: Luc G, Keita M, Houssoube F et al (2023) Community Clustering of Food Insecurity and Malnutrition Associated with Systemic Drivers in Chad. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 44, 2, S69–S82. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/03795721231189970

 

This study focuses on agropastoral communities in Chad's Sahelian belt experiencing prolonged hunger, high food insecurity, and wasting.

The researchers conducted this mixed method study to understand the spatial distribution of child wasting and household food insecurity and systemic drivers (including conflict, livelihoods, vegetation, and cultural norms), as well as to better understand the relationship between child wasting and household food insecurity, with the goal of improving linkages in programming and targeting. A cross-sectional randomised cluster survey was conducted in August and September 2021 in Kanem and Bahr-el-Ghazal regions across 86 villages, reaching 7,002 households and 6,136 children to collect data on child anthropometry, household food security, and livelihoods. These primary data were then triangulated with secondary geospatial data on the local vegetation index and conflicts, as well as with qualitative interviews with local actors. Analysis was conducted using comparison tests and linear and logistic crude and adjusted models, as well as looking at the design effect as a measure of clustering of outcomes at the community level.

Results at regional level showed that malnutrition was worse in Bahr-el-Ghazal, while food insecurity was worse in Kanem. The authors also found weak associations between food security and malnutrition indicators in both regions. Geospatial analysis showed the distribution of both child wasting and food insecurity were highly clustered, and that communities with a high prevalence of child wasting were not the same as those with the highest levels of food insecurity. Except for conflict and natural resources, which were associated with both outcomes, the origins of malnutrition and food security had generally different pathways. The drivers of food insecurity were linked with poverty and shocks (surface cultivated, sources of income, multidimensional poverty, conflict, and rainfall). The drivers of malnutrition were linked with greater livestock ownership at the community level and proximity to seasonal rivers, with no relationship to food insecurity. This could potentially indicate greater household use of non-potable water (given community preference and use of seasonal rivers) as well as increased sharing between animals and humans.

The authors note that, despite the clear clustering of the outcomes at the community level, few studies – particularly few quantitative studies – analyse food insecurity or malnutrition at the community level. Both study design and data collection tend to be focused on individual and household characteristics, potentially missing key community drivers but also more basic causes of these outcomes. The report argues that participatory processes that involve communities all along the project cycle are critical to making sure activities are context sensitive. Funding mechanisms should support sustainable and sequenced investments to respond to protracted crises. The authors conclude that community-level and systemic drivers require greater consideration from the start in research design and data collection. There is a need for better integrated humanitarian, development, and peace-building interventions to address the persistent high prevalence of food insecurity and child wasting.

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Unravelling community clustering in Chad. Field Exchange 72, April 2024. p37. www.ennonline.net/fex/72/unravelling-community-clustering-in-chad

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