Understanding food environment relevance for improved individual dietary diversity in rural Burundi


Food environment overview
The food environment, which is often defined as the context in which the concerned households lead their lives and choose what different foods play an important role in individual dieatry dieversity (Downs, Ahmed, Fanzo, & Herforth, 2020). For urbanized areas, the food environment depends on exogenous factors such as food availability, food affordability (Herforth & Ahmed, 2015). For the case of our study which carried out in a rural area, the food environment is defined as the natural environment which includes both the potential agricultural production and the possibility to find wild food from the bush.

Linkage of food environment, dietary diversity and nutrition security
Dietary diversity being defined as the number of food groups that an individual or a household consumes during a given period (often in the 24 hours preceding data collection), theoretically dietary diversity can be associated with the food environment because in an some situation, households or individuals can only consume food found at their reach, therefore what is food found in the environment around them.

Ensuring individual dietary diversity (at the household level) is key in the fight against malnutrition as it can contribute to guaranteeing nutritional security (Ruel, 2003). In the processes of studies, dietary diversity has been considered in a given food environment for understanding the linkage that exist between different factors that could contribute to diversify individual diets.

The food environment is understood as all the factors involved in human diet, activities, facilities and orientations related to access to ideally healthy food. Thus, the set of conditions in which households or communities find food constitutes the food environment and is specific to a locality.

In the case of Burundi, the majority of households live in rural areas and live mainly from agriculture and livestock (90% of the Burundian population) through subsistence agriculture. From the conducted researches, we learnt that even if agricultural diversity can predict a varied food consumption, it is more linked with the level of off-farm income generated by household members. Thus, the household environment should give opportunity for off-farm activities to improving the household member diet.

  • Lessons learnt from an agri-food system analysis in Burundi, in 2 provinces (Ngozi and Muyinga)
  • The 2 provinces are located in humid central and eastern plateau :
  • The study targeted women and children in households for understanding the relationship between dietary diversity and food environment settings.

Focus group discussion with women of childbearing age around ‘the dietary diversity topic’ within rural community.

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