Assessment and characterization of food types consumed by hadzabe hunter-gatherer nomads in northern Tanzania

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Sokoine University of Agriculture


The aim of this study was to assess and characterize the food types consumed by Hadzabe hunter-gatherer nomads in Karatu and Meatu districts, northern Tanzania. A total of 259 respondents from the target districts were involved in the study. Through cross-sectional study design, the data were collected using structured and semi-structured questionnaires to investigate the temporal patterns for the availability of food types consumed. Micronutrients (Cadmium, Copper, Chromium, Ferrous, Zinc, Magnesium in mg/l and %Calcium) and proximate composition of macronutrients were analysed in three common consumed roots (Ekwa, Magharitako and Shumugo). Overall, 47 varieties of plant species were consumed but only 15 among them were recognized by their scientific names. Twenty eight type of leaf vegetables, 16 root/tubers and 15 wild fruits/berries were identified among consumed plant materials and 29 animal species. Findings from spatial analysis demonstrated that honey (96.5%), meat (91.9%) and roots (76.4%) were found both during dry and rain season. The analyses of micronutrients showed that Cu, Cr, Mg and Fe (mg/l) in the samples exceeded the WHO Maximum Acceptable Residue Level (MARL). In particular, moisture content in Shumugo roots was higher (90%) than the WHO recommended levels. It is concluded that there are many varieties of wild food consumed and their availability depends on the season. The examined roots for micronutrients are probably toxic for Fe, Cr and Cu that requires further toxicity studies. There is need to raise awareness about the risks and hazards associated with nomadism, that include among other things inadequacy of vital nutrients in their diets that may cause malnutrition; and also toxic natural food types.



Hadzabe hunter-gatherer, Northern Tanzania, Food types, Karatu district, Meatu district