Why Culture is Key in Tackling Malnutrition in Africa

To protect our food supply and prevent malnutrition in the face of climate change, the degradation of our planet, and diseases such as Covid-19, researchers from Israel and the United Kingdom have released a new report detailing how we need "radical changes to the food system". The report urges radical dietary changes to help prevent malnutrition amid climate change but such changes would need to consider culture and affordability.

In many African countries such as Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, and Tanzania, many low-income families struggle to afford healthy diets, even in their cheapest form. In some cultures, men eat before women and children. And boys may eat before girls. But if women cook, serve food to the men and children first, and get to eat at the end when everyone else has had their fill, not everyone benefits equally.

In Western Kenya, certain foods such as chicken gizzard are forbidden for women as they are reserved for men. In Sub-Saharan Africa, pregnant women are forbidden from eating protein-rich foods such as eggs and snails for several reasons including the fear that the child may develop bad habits. Consider culture when making radical dietary changes to aid food supply amid climate change, writes Mercy Lung'aho for SciDev.Net.

InFocus

At a food fair in Luwingu, Zambia women display items they regularly forage and cultivate. Forest foods are diverse and nutrient-rich (file photo).

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