Assessing seasonal dietary variability and vulnerability in the Kilombero Valley

Open Access
Spangler, Kaitlyn Anita
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Larry James Gorenflo, Thesis Supervisor
  • Timothy Michael Ryan, Honors Advisor
  • Food security
  • subsistence livelihoods
  • resource variability
  • vulnerability
  • nutritional assessment
Food security is one of the most important considerations in assessing sustainable livelihoods, whereby enough safe, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food is a necessary condition for improving overall wellbeing. Yet, small-scale subsistence agriculturalists are particularly vulnerable to environmental, economic, and social issues across a globalizing world, and food security is increasingly difficult to achieve. Seasonal variability of harvest yields, unpredictability of climate patterns, and poor access to external markets pose substantial obstacles for these populations to achieve a sustainable way of living. This research project focuses on household food security and seasonal resource variability among small-scale agricultural villages adjacent to Udzungwa Mountains National Park (UMNP), Tanzania. The study will analyze Income and Expenditure Diary data on produced and purchased items for 119 households in the village of Mang’ula B over a 12-month period, review Household Survey Questionnaire data, take a closer look at the experience of individual households, assess the nutritional status of local dietary and consumption patterns, and use supplementary data from key informants. Food security is gleaned through the domains of dietary quantity and quality from season to season for subsistence households in the village of Mang’ula B in the Kilombero Valley. The aim of this analysis is to identify household-level seasonal vulnerability in livelihood strategies and assess overall community nutritional status, considering implications for the protection of UMNP. More specifically, it examines (1) what people are eating from season to season, and (2) what nutritional patterns, if any, exist in times of extreme shortage and vulnerability. These questions seek to explain how and to what extent the community members’ dietary needs are being met in order to maintain or increase their quality of life without ultimately compromising the protection of biological diversity in UMNP.