Experiential Household Food Insecurity in an Urban Underserved Slum of North India
Agarwal S, Sethi V, Gupta P, Jha M, Agnihotri A, Nord M. Experiential household food insecurity in an urban underserved slum of North India. Food Sec 2009;1: 239–50. DOI 10.1007/s12571-009-0034-y
12 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2016
Date Written: August 4, 2009
One-third of India’s urban population resides in extreme poverty, in slums and squatters. Food insecurity remains a visible reality among this segment. Yet, it is scarcely documented.This paper describes levels and determinants of experiential household food insecurity (HFI) in an underserved urban slum of Delhi (India) and reports the internal validity and reliability of the measure used to assess experiential HFI. A four item scale was adapted from the U.S. six-item short form food security scale and was administered in Hindi through household interviews with 410 female adults.
Association of HFI with household economic and sociodemographic characteristics were examined using multiple logistic regression. Cronbach’s alpha and Rasch model-based item fit statistics were used to assess reliability and internal validity. Fifty-one percent of households were food insecure. Significant HFI predictors were unemployed to employed family members’ ratio of >3:1 (Odds Ratio 2.1, Confidence Interval 1.2-3.4) and low household standard of living (OR 4.9, C.I. 2.7-8.9).
Cronbach’s alpha was 0.8. Item severities as estimated under Rasch model assumptions spanned 9.7 logits. Item infit statistics (0.77-1.07) indicated that the Rasch model fit the data well. Item outfit statistics suggested that one item was inconsistently understood by a small proportion of respondents.
Extent of household food insecurity Two-thirds (65.8%) of households reported that they sometimes or often could not afford to eat balanced meals in the 12 months preceding the survey. Similarly, 51.7% households sometimes or often faced the problem of ‘food not lasting for the purchased period and having no money at hand to buy more food’. ‘Cutting size of meals or skipping meals’ was sometimes or often faced by 23.9% households. Few (14.7%) households ever faced a condition wherein ‘one or more family members were hungry but family could not afford to buy food’. A total of 135 households (32.9%) never faced any of the above 4 conditions. Overall, 51% households were ‘food-insecure’ (27.1% food-insecure without hunger and 23.9% and food-insecure with hunger). The remaining (49%) households were ‘food-secure’.
Factors that emerged as determinants of household insecurity included i) illiteracy level of head of household, ii) family size of 7 or more, iii) high unemployment of family members, iv) low food spending - families whose MPCE on food was reported less than INR 580 were more likely to be food insecure.
For improving HFI among the urban poor, in addition to improving behaviors/entitlement access, programs should consider linkage of urban poor to existing employment schemes, upgrading of their skills and linkage to potential employers. The adapted scale was reliable and easy to administer. However, being a subjective assessment, its sensitivity to social expectation and its association with nutrition security require examination.
Keywords: Urban poor, Household food insecurity, Slums, India, North India, Delhi
JEL Classification: D1, D10, D60, D63, I1, I10, I11, I12, I18, I19, I3, I21, I30, I31, J13, J18, H41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation