Title

Leveraging Smallholder Livestock Production to Reduce Anemia: A Qualitative Study of Three Agroecological Zones in Ghana

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

7-19-2018

Keywords

Animal-source foods, Anemia, Nutrition, Livestock production and management, Infectious diseases, Ghana

Organizational Units

College of Natual Science and Mathematics, Geography and the Environment

Abstract

Livestock production and Animal-Source Foods (ASFs) like meat, milk, and eggs are excellent sources of essential micronutrients, including iron and zinc. There is evidence that encouraging increased access to and consumption of these ASFs may either positively or negatively impact anemia, or have no nutritional effects. Drawing upon first-hand experiences in Ghana, this study sought to: (1) identify the main motivations for raising livestock in Ghana; (2) describe the major barriers to consuming ASFs, especially among women of reproductive age (WRA); and (3) explore the feasibility of different livestock-centered interventions to reduce anemia. Key informant interviews and focus group discussions were held with relevant stakeholders at different geographical scales - the national, regional, district, and community levels. The results suggest that livestock enable savings, allow resource-poor households to accumulate assets, and help finance planned and unplanned expenditures (e.g., school fees and illness). Due to these multiple and often pressing uses, direct consumption of home-reared ASFs is not a major priority, especially for poor households. Even when ASFs are consumed, intra-household allocation does not favor women and adolescent girls, demographic groups with particularly high micronutrient requirements. The study participants discussed possible interventions to address these challenges, including (1) increasing livestock ownership through in-kind credit; (2) encouraging nutrition-related behavior change; (3) improving livestock housing; and (4) hatchery management. The paper discusses these interventions based upon potential acceptance, feasibility, cost effectiveness, and sustainability in the Ghanaian context.

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