Discipline: Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
Subcategory: Social Sciences/Psychology/Economics
Oacia Fair - Michigan State University
Co-Author(s): Mia Bosankic, Michigan State University East Lansing, Michigan; Ezekiel Sigala, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania; Ashley Greenleaf, Michigan State University East Lansing, Michigan; and Steven Gray, Michigan State University East Lansing, Michigan.
Naitolia is a rural Maasai village located in northern Tanzania. This community consists of pastoralists, where livestock are reared for both meat and milk production. More recently, this community has transitioned to include subsistence farming of maize and legumes. We used the four pillars of food security (availability, access, utilization, and stability) to evaluate food-related issues. There has not been a project implemented related to food security and pastoralism so this research represents an ideal opportunity to evaluate challenges and identify feasible solutions.
Challenges Naitolians face include: climate change, conflict with wildlife, access to water, disease, etc. We formulated four research objectives to identify the challenges of food security Naitolians face; Evaluate the level of knowledge of the people on food security issues, assess eating habits and identify dietary needs using the four pillars of food security, identify challenges to food security and pastoralism in Naitolia, and determine efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable solutions to challenges of food security and pastoralism.
In addition, we came up with four research questions that corresponds to our objects: What do Naitolians know about food security issues? What are local eating habits (i.e., number and composition of meals) and what are their dietary needs as far as the four pillars of food security are concerned? What are the challenges of food security and pastoralism in Naitolia? What are some ideal solutions supported by locals that can combat challenges to food security and pastoralism?
We conducted three focus groups discussions, consisting of men, women, and the local animal health committee to generate baseline information on the challenges facing various aspects of food security and pastoralism. Using that information, we developed an open-ended questionnaire relating to pastoralism and the four pillars of food security to gather quantitative and qualitative data from 25 local stakeholders. Quantitative questions included items such as the daily number of meals, livestock loss, herd size, etc. Qualitative questions included livestock/crop disease, composition of meals, what factors lead to livestock loss, etc.
Most Naitolians explained climate was the greatest challenge to food availability. Others suggested income, cost, wildlife conflict, and infrastructure. For access, price and income were the most common challenges to access and one responded climate. For utilization, insects are a major threat to storing grains and most of the participants stated costly insecticides is the biggest challenge. Food instability is due tp inaccessible insecticides, physical and microbial injuries (grain-borers and fungi), low rainfall, wildlife conflict, and costly fertilizers. The greatest challenges to food instability is income, climate, pests, insecticide access, and storage. Nearly half reported the single greatest challenge to food security is income. The most common solution is governmental assistance including food aid, environmental protection and restoration, protection against wildlife, accessible water reserves, and employment opportunities. Other solutions were accessible and affordable insecticides, electricity to store food, food storage education, higher income, capital to start businesses, and more small businesses in the area to supplement their needs.
The most common challenges to pastoralism is diseases, water access, grazing land, and animal conflict. The common diseases include viral diseases, bacterial diseases, and parasitic diseases. Water access is a major issue as it takes an average of 7 km to obtain water for livestock during the dry season (1 km wet season). Pastoralists lose an average of 10 livestock per year to dehydration. In the dry season, distance to grazing access averaged 10.5 km and dry season varied from .5-1 km. The average amount of livestock lost was 11. For pastoralists, a common threat is depredation of livestock by wildlife. Solutions to these challenges is increasing access to water and grazing land, affordable livestock medication, fences and wildlife containment, and education access.
Environmental and economic barriers hinder the success of agropastoralists in Naitolia and changing climate and sporadic rainfall interferes with Naitolian quality of life. Loss of livestock due to wildlife conflict and disease threaten Naitolian livelihoods. Low income makes it difficult to attain resources needed to maintain a consistent and balanced diet.
There are some future research questions we would like to ask Naitolians. Since we know their challenges, what research projects would be the most beneficial to eliminate food insecurity? For previous projects, have researchers used Naitolia’s local knowledge for assistance? Since it?s illegal to kill wildlife that destroys livestock and crops, what other measures should be used to prevent conflict?
Funder Acknowledgement(s): Tanzania Partnership Program Michigan State Univeristy Sokoine University of Agriculture University of Dar es Salaam Aga Khan Foundation
Faculty Advisor: Jonathon Choti, email@example.com
Role: I collaborated with all my team members and wrote questionnaires and surveys for all three focus groups and interviewees at the bomas. I helped to seek research questions and objectives for our project. I traveled with a translator to ask questions regarding food security and pastoralism in Naitolians households. I assisted in coming up with solutions to their challenges as well as recommendations. In addition, we all wrote a proposal to the Tanzania Partnership Program to be incorporated for another research project.