His and Hers, time and income: How intra-household dynamics impact nutrition in agricultural households

Date: 01/2017 to 12/2018
Location: Guatemala

This project aims to examine how household dietary diversity is impacted by income and information through intra-household decision-making processes related to food consumption and time allocation. In particular, the focus lies on:

  1. How income incentives and nutrition information impact the allocation of time of household members across off-farm, on-farm, household care, and recreational activities
  2. How income incentives and nutrition information impact family members’ allocation of income to specific foods
  3. Analyzing whether households where women have more decision-making power systematically differ in their actual consumption patterns from households where men’s preferences are more highly represented in decision-making.

As indicated by the third objective, gender is a central consideration of this study. Decision-making processes within the household, and especially those among the principal couple/adults, determine household nutritional status, so it is important to understand these gender relations.

Although this research is relevant across low and middle income countries, this new methodology is implemented in Guatemala, which provides an interesting case of the double burden of malnutrition. According to the World Food Programme, Guatemala has the fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world and the highest in Latin America; with almost half of the children under the age of 5 chronically undernourished. On the other hand, about 50% of Guatemalan women of reproductive age are affected by obesity. Besides this double burden of malnutrition, recent studies in the country have shown that rather than lack of food availability, intra-household inequalities in the access and use of money to purchase nutritious foods are the major drivers of malnutrition, as well as improper use of foods due to lack of knowledge of their nutritional value.

The basic impact pathway for this project is the idea that household crop income, wages, and access to nutrition information all impact household decisions related to food consumption and care-time, which in turn impact nutritional intake of the household members. This project tests these hypotheses and the results will provide a better understanding of how household decision-making processes impact nutritional intake.

The final aim is to disseminate the resulting information and knowledge to key stakeholders/next users with the expectation of changing attitudes and skills and ultimately informing agriculture for nutrition programs and policies. By utilizing CIAT’s existing network of agricultural and nutrition partners, results will be spread in ways that consider how to best achieve development outcomes. Specifically, the results generated from the research will be targeted to program designers in development organizations and international research programs and institutions; and policy makers in Guatemala.


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