Is Women’s Undernutrition Synonymous with Household Food Insufficiency? Evidence from Northern Ghana
Background: Policy making in Sub-Saharan Africa commonly assume that food and nutrition security programs that target food insecure households would most likely impact on malnourished individuals. This is despite the compelling evidence from elsewhere in the developing world that show a food distribution pattern that is discriminatory against women and girls in particular. Objectives: We attempt to examine the extent of the association between measures of women nutritional attainment and household food (in)security, where we determine whether distributional analysis of people’s nutrition can reliably predict women’s individual nutritional well-being from measures of household level food access. Secondly, we ask whether all malnourished women, or at least a large bulk of them are located within food insecure households, such that they can be reliably targeted through household level food security interventions. Results: A Spearman Correlation analysis between women’s nutritional attainment and household level food (in)security show a positive association at aggregate level; and among households that are considered to be food secure but not among households facing food crisis. We further adopt the use of concentration curves and Indices, as well as joint and conditional probabilities to establish a pattern of distribution on malnourished women across different levels of household food (in)security. Our results show that though a larger proportion of malnourished women are located within food insecure households; there is still considerable evidence of a wide dispersion of incidences of women undernutrition, where an average of 30% of malnourished women were located outside of 40% of the households whose food insecurity status was most severe. Conditional probabilities show more or less equal chances of women being malnourished irrespective of food security level of households within which they are located.