The role of social capital in coping with household food insecurity in urban areas of Tanzania: the case of Dar es Salaam and Morogoro municipality

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Sokoine University of Agriculture


This study was conducted to investigate the role played by social capital in coping with household food insecurity in urban areas of Tanzania. The study entailed surveys conducted in Dar es salaam city and Morogoro municipality. Specifically the study had four objectives namely (a) to identify the various coping options related to social capital that are commonly adopted by households in the study area to contend with food insecurity (b) to determine the characteristics of social capital arrangements which are relevant to household food security (c) to determine the extent to which social capital reduces household food insecurity vulnerability and (d) to determine the effects of household stock of social capital on household income. The study is based on a survey of 180 households. Proportionate stratified random sampling technique was used to select respondents across all income levels in the study area. The data were coded and analysed with the aid of the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) computer programme. Data analysis entailed a number of descriptive statistics including frequencies, cross tabulations and chi-square tests. However, regression analysis was the major parametric test employed. The regression analysis made use of, first, a multiple linear regression model aimed at testing the effect of social capital on household income and, second, a logistic regression model which tested the effect of social capital on household food vulnerability. Results revealed that the major food insecurity coping strategies based on social capital commonly adopted by urban households were food purchase on credit, borrowing of money, food offers, reliance on informal credit, money offers, labour sales and exchange of assets for food. The study has also revealed that social capital significantly increases household income in the study area (p<0.05) but did not significantly reduce household food insecurity vulnerability (p>0.05). In addition, some characteristics of the identified social capital based coping strategies were uncovered. Whereas food purchase on credit was a characteristic of the poor and food vulnerable households, borrowing of money was practised by both low and medium income households. On the other hand, lack of social capital was not a major factor restricting low income households from accessing food on credit or getting money offers. Borrowing of money was common among close friends and neighbours while, food and money offers mainly took place between non-blood and blood relatives, respectively. In view of the findings from this study, a number of policy implications are recommended. Development policies ought to advance and nurture social capital strategies commonly used by society in coping with food insecurity. It is also clearly apparent that there is a need for prioritising and clearly targeting beneficiaries of food assistance aimed at reducing food insecurity vulnerability in urban areas. Overall the study strongly alerts on the fact that incomes of urban households are significantly low rendering food items unaffordable.




Household food insecurity, Tanzania - Urban areas, Dar es Salaam, Morogoro municipality