Food coping strategies in northern Ghana. A socio‑spatial analysis along the urban–rural continuum
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Background: Food insecurity is a worrying challenge worldwide, with sub-Sahara Africa most affected. Literature reveals that in developing countries, food insecurity is a largely ‘‘managed process’’, meaning people are active participants in responding to the risks they face in life. This paper focuses on how households cope with food shortages and how these food coping strategies vary along the urban–rural continuum. A transect approach was used to guide data collection in and around the city of Tamale in northern Ghana. A total of 19 Focus Group discussions, having eight participants each (four women, four men), were conducted between March and May 2014. Additionally, three qualitative in-depth interviews were also conducted, one each in the urban, periurban and rural area. Results: In periurban and rural areas, gathering of wild food and selling of charcoal was widely practised, while in urban areas, most households tended to reduce the number of meals as a more frequent coping strategy. The study identified five coping strategies along the urban–rural continuum as the most severe in times of food insecurity, namely skipping a whole day without food, borrowing, buying food on credit, consuming seed stock and restricting adult intake in favour of children. Hunting, consuming less preferred food, taking occasional jobs and engaging in small trading were considered as not severe. Conclusions: Study results reveal that food coping strategies vary from one spatial entity to another in terms of frequency, severity and coping strategy indices along the urban–rural continuum. This information is useful for indicators to predict crisis (early warning), to understand shortfalls in access to adequate food (assessment), to allocate resources (targeting) or to track the impact of interventions (monitoring and evaluation).
- Agriculture