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Participatory evaluation of food and nutritional security through sustainability indicators in a highland peasant system in Guatemala

Arnés, Esperanza, Astier, Marta, Marín González, Omar, Hernández Díaz-Ambrona, Carlos G.
Agroecology and sustainable food systems 2019 v.43 no.5 pp. 482-513
farmers, food security, household surveys, least squares, malnutrition, peasantry, rural areas, sustainable development, Guatemala
Food and Nutritional Security (FNS) is still an outstanding problem, and rural areas of Guatemala demonstrate this by an increase in the undernourished population from 1.4 million in 1991 to 2.5 million in 2014. Some FNS programs were developed in the past, and our research evaluates the following: (1) the critical points perceived by farmers related to the sustainability of their systems, (2) the performance of FNS program through a set of 7 indicators, and (3) how the FNS levels are related to sustainability indicators among hamlets. We used mixed methods (participatory rural appraisals and 64 semi-structured household surveys) across six hamlets. The most robust 15 indicators were selected through correlation analysis. Two series of five least squares regression models determined that the critical points had significant impacts on economic disparities but failed to explain malnutrition levels. Consequently, we compared two contrasting hamlets according to their energy and protein supply. The results showed that FNS is linked to sustainability as the more self-reliant and equitable community exhibited higher food security. However, FNS depends upon a complex array of self-sufficiency strategies that remain linked to individual household idiosyncrasies.