Ethnography of Household cultural feeding practices ofchildren under five years in rural northern Ghana

by Margaret Wekem Kukeba

Institution: University of Manchester
Year: 2017
Keywords: Culture; childfeeding; ethnography; under fives
Posted: 02/01/2018
Record ID: 2155153
Full text PDF: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/escholar/uk-ac-man-scw:308627


An ethnographic study of Household cultural feedingpractices of children under five years in rural NorthernGhanaBackground: Appropriate child feeding prevents nutrientdeficiencies, diseases, and deaths in children. However, only 13.3%of children aged 6-23 months in Ghana receive the minimumacceptable diet. Thus, undernutrition remains high in ruralnorthern Ghana, especially among under-fives. This is showing noimprovement despite economic development and implementation ofglobally recommended nutrition & feeding interventions. Thereis limited context specific evidence about child feeding in ruralnorthern Ghana.Aim:To examine how culture might impact upon thefeeding of children under five years of age in rural northernGhana.Methods: A qualitative ethnographic study was completedbetween October 2014 and May 2015. Data were collected in a ruralGhanaian community via participant observation and sixty-oneethnographic interviews with mothers, fathers, and grandparents in15 households, and spiritual leaders are known as diviners.Themes were developed through inductive analysis of field notes andverbatim transcribed interviews using a framework approach.Results: The content of a child's diet and the pattern of feedingwere found to be influenced by the community's notion of food,taboos, and beliefs which originated in a traditional Africanreligion. Shared household responsibility for feeding children andthe gendered and age related hierarchy of household decision makingalso influenced child feeding. Discussion: This study has shownmultifaceted taken-for-granted social and cultural influences onchild feeding. Whilst mothers are the main recipients of theofficial public health nutrition and child feeding advice, thecommunal structures, living arrangements and social interactionssupport, enhance, and reinforce the community inclined practicesthat limit mothers independent decision making.Conclusion:Toeffect community change and promote uptake of public healthnutrition recommendations, a community wide nutrition interventionapproach may be more beneficial than the current approach whichtargets mothers. Furthermore, community and cultural influencesmust be understood and considered by health professionals if suchinterventions are to succeed. Not applicaable Not applicableAdvisors/Committee Members: FALLON, DEBORAH D, Callery, Peter, Fallon, Deborah.