Child self provisioning in a marginal urban environment
Lee, Sarah Elisabeth
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The project presented in this dissertation investigates how children’s investments in food- and other resource-seeking behaviors external to the household influence their dietary quality. The three articles represent aspects of the same issue concerning children’s ability to function in a marginal urban environment. I document child foraging in an urban environment, measuring and describing children’s foraging activities. Urban children forage without adult supervision and in groups. Both boys and girls forage, but boys allocate more time to foraging, and girls were more frequently engaged in sibling care activities. Urban children share foraged food with their household and with siblings and peers. Children contribute to the household by engaging in childcare, housework, provisioning activities (including foraging, working for food or money and begging). Children’s monetary contributions to the household are many times their own food budget (if calculate household food budget by number of people in the household). I test the idea that children’s food- and other resource-seeking behaviors might make a difference to their nutritional wellbeing under the extremely marginal conditions associated with urban poverty in many developing world regions. However, provisioning status was not associated with variation in either longer-run (height-for-age) or shorter run (weight-for-age) nutritional status. A comparison of provisioning and non-provisioning children showed that they had similar mean weight for age z-scores and mean height for age z-scores. Both foraging and other provisioning failed to predict the presence of anemia in children. The hypothesis that provisioning status will not greatly affect anthropometric markers of generalized caloric and protein sufficiency was supported. There was no significant difference between groups for any measures of dietary quality (including Dietary Diversity Score, Food Variety Score and caloric intake).