TCRU Lunchtime Seminar, 16th June 2015: “I cannot attend class properly if I am hungry, so it affects my schooling”: Food and hunger in children’s everyday lives in Ethiopia: evidence from Young Lives

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Virginia Morrow, Young Lives, University of Oxford,
16th June 2015, 1-2pm, TCRU Library, 27-28 Woburn Square WC1H 0AA

This paper explores how food insecurity affects children’s daily lives in Ethiopia, drawing on four rounds of longitudinal qualitative research with 50 children collected from 2007 to 2014 as part of Young Lives (www.younglives.org.uk). Access to enough good quality food is fundamental to well-being for children and caregivers. Children’s descriptions of food and hunger are expressed in a range of qualitative methods, including drawings used in a well-being/ill-being exercise, interviews, and group discussions. The paper will explore the following:

(a) how food and hunger affects children over time, influencing decision-making about time-use and work, and movement of children between households, including early marriage;
(b) children’s descriptions of the quantity and quality of meals and the linkages to economic ‘shocks’ such as illness, death, loss of employment, drought and inflation;
(c) gendered dimensions of food preparation;
(d) implications for children’s diets of social protection schemes aimed at alleviating poverty, such as the Productive Safety Net Programme (which provides cash or food grain for work).

Qualitative analysis will be contextualised within descriptive statistics illustrating access to public programmes and dietary diversity from the most recent round (2013) of Young Lives survey. Theoretically, the paper emphasises the importance of understanding food practices holistically, in relation to other aspects of children’s lives, emphasising their (constrained) agency in responding to hunger in poverty situations. The paper contributes to the broader literature on Ethiopia on food insecurity, and to childhood and youth studies by bringing empirical evidence to bear on a hitherto under-researched topic.

Ginny Morrow is Senior Research Officer and Deputy Director of Young Lives. She is a sociologist, and her research focuses on children’s work, sociological approaches to the study of childhood and children’s rights, ethics of social research with children, children’s understandings of family, and children and ‘social capital’. She is a co-editor of Childhood: A Journal of Global Child Research.

Please email tcru@ioe.ac.uk with enquiries and to register attendance.

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