Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Seasonal variation of food security among the Batwa of Kanungu, Uganda

  • Kaitlin Patterson (a1), Lea Berrang-Ford (a2) (a3), Shuaib Lwasa (a3) (a4), Didacus B Namanya (a3) (a5), James Ford (a2) (a3), Fortunate Twebaze (a4), Sierra Clark (a2), Blánaid Donnelly (a2) and Sherilee L Harper (a1) (a3)...
Abstract Objective

Climate change is projected to increase the burden of food insecurity (FI) globally, particularly among populations that depend on subsistence agriculture. The impacts of climate change will have disproportionate effects on populations with higher existing vulnerability. Indigenous people consistently experience higher levels of FI than their non-Indigenous counterparts and are more likely to be dependent upon land-based resources. The present study aimed to understand the sensitivity of the food system of an Indigenous African population, the Batwa of Kanungu District, Uganda, to seasonal variation.


A concurrent, mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative) design was used. Six cross-sectional retrospective surveys, conducted between January 2013 and April 2014, provided quantitative data to examine the seasonal variation of self-reported household FI. This was complemented by qualitative data from focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews collected between June and August 2014.


Ten rural Indigenous communities in Kanungu District, Uganda.


FI data were collected from 130 Indigenous Batwa Pygmy households. Qualitative methods involved Batwa community members, local key informants, health workers and governmental representatives.


The dry season was associated with increased FI among the Batwa in the quantitative surveys and in the qualitative interviews. During the dry season, the majority of Batwa households reported greater difficulty in acquiring sufficient quantities and quality of food. However, the qualitative data indicated that the effect of seasonal variation on FI was modified by employment, wealth and community location.


These findings highlight the role social factors play in mediating seasonal impacts on FI and support calls to treat climate associations with health outcomes as non-stationary and mediated by social sensitivity.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Seasonal variation of food security among the Batwa of Kanungu, Uganda
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Seasonal variation of food security among the Batwa of Kanungu, Uganda
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Seasonal variation of food security among the Batwa of Kanungu, Uganda
      Available formats
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
* Corresponding author: Email;
Hide All

James Ford, Lea Berrang-Ford, Shuaib Lwasa, Didacus B Namanya, Cesar Carcamo, Alejandro Llanos, Victoria Edge and Sherilee Harper.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

1. BA Smith , T Ruthman , E Sparling et al. (2015) A risk modeling framework to evaluate the impacts of climate change and adaptation on food and water safety. Food Res Int 68, 7885.

2. N Watts , WN Adger , P Agnolucci et al. (2015) Health and climate change: policy responses to protect public health. Lancet 386, 18611914.

3. B Barrett , JW Charles & JL Temte (2015) Climate change, human health, and epidemiological transition. Prev Med 70, 6975.

5. JA Patz , ML Grabow & VS Limaye (2014) When it rains, it pours: future climate extremes and health. Ann Glob Health 80, 332344.

6. TH Aase , RP Chaudhary & OR Vetaas (2010) Farming flexibility and food security under climatic uncertainty: Manang, Nepal Himalaya. Area 42, 228238.

7. JF Morton (2007) The impact of climate change on smallholder and subsistence agriculture. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 104, 1968019685.

8. JD Ford & M Beaumier (2011) Feeding the family during times of stress: experience and determinants of food insecurity in an Inuit community. Geogr J 177, 4461.

9. C Goldhar , JD Ford & L Berrang-Ford (2010) Prevalence of food insecurity in a Greenlandic community and the importance of social, economic and environmental stressors. Int J Circumpolar Health 69, 285303.

10. PJ Gregory , JSI Ingram & M Brklacich (2005) Climate change and food security. Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci 360, 21392148.

11. KD Jones , J Thitiri , M Ngari et al. (2014) Childhood malnutrition: toward an understanding of infections, inflammation, and antimicrobials. Food Nutr Bull 35, 2 Suppl., S64S70.

13. PE Sheffield & PJ Landrigan (2011) Global climate change and children’s health: threats and strategies for prevention. Environ Health Perspect 119, 291298.

14. M Sherman & JD Ford (2013) Market engagement and food insecurity after a climatic hazard. Glob Food Sec 2, 144155.

15. P Tschakert (2007) Views from the vulnerable: understanding climatic and other stressors in the Sahel. Glob Environ Chang 17, 381396.

16. HE Thompson , J Ford & L Berrang-Ford (2010) Climate change and food security in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic literature review. Sustainability 2, 27192733.

17. FM Mukuve & RA Fenner (2015) The influence of water, land, energy and soil–nutrient resource interactions on the food system in Uganda. Food Policy 51, 2437.

18. L Berrang-Ford , K Dingle , JD Ford et al. (2012) Vulnerability of indigenous health to climate change: a case study of Uganda’s Batwa Pygmies. Soc Sci Med 75, 10671077.

19. J Labbé , J Ford , L Berrang-Ford et al. (2016) Vulnerability to the health effects of climate variability in rural southwestern Uganda. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Chang 21, 931.

21. S Clark , L Berrang-Ford , S Lwasa et al. (2015) The burden and determinants of self-reported acute gastrointestinal illness in an Indigenous Batwa Pygmy population in southwestern Uganda. Epidemiol Infect 143, 22872298.

22. B Donnelly , L Berrang-Ford , J Labbé et al. (2016) Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasitaemia among indigenous Batwa and non-indigenous communities of Kanungu district, Uganda. Malar J 15, 254.

31. RJ Berman , CH Quinn & J Paavola (2015) Identifying drivers of household coping strategies to multiple climatic hazards in Western Uganda: implications for adapting to future climate change. Clim Dev 7, 7184.

32. E Andersson & S Gabrielsson (2012) ‘Because of poverty, we had to come together’: collective action for improved food security in rural Kenya and Uganda. Int J Agric Sustain 10, 245262.

34. RM Wise , I Fazey , M Stafford Smith et al. (2014) Reconceptualising adaptation to climate change as part of pathways of change and response. Glob Environ Chang 28, 325336.

35. I Fazey , RM Wise , C Lyon et al. (2016) Past and future adaptation pathways. Clim Dev 8, 2644.

36. JW Creswell & VLP Clark (2007) Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

39. JD Ford & B Smit (2004) A framework for assessing the vulnerability of communities in the Canadian Arctic to risks associated with climate change. Arctic 57, 389400.

40. S Statham , J Ford , L Berrang-Ford et al. (2015) Anomalous climatic conditions during winter 2010–2011 and vulnerability of the traditional Inuit food system in Iqaluit, Nunavut. Polar Rec 51, 301317.

43. R Longhurst (2009) Interviews: in-depth, semi-structured. In International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, pp. 580584 [R Kitchin and N Thrift, editors]. Oxford: Elsevier.

44. M Birks , Y Chapman & K Francis (2008) Memoing in qualitative research probing data and processes. J Res Nurs 13, 6875.

45. G Lopez , M Figueroa , S Connor et al. (2008) Translation barriers in conducting qualitative research with Spanish speakers. Qual Health Res 18, 17291737.

47. M Sherman , J Ford , A Llanos-Cuentas et al. (2015) Vulnerability and adaptive capacity of community food systems in the Peruvian Amazon: a case study from Panaillo. Nat Hazards 77, 20492079.

48. C Hillbruner & R Egan (2008) Seasonality, household food security, and nutritional status in Dinajpur, Bangladesh. Food Nutr Bull 29, 221231.

50. M Gracey & M King (2009) Indigenous health part 1: determinants and disease patterns. Lancet 374, 6575.

51. M King , A Smith & M Gracey (2009) Indigenous health part 2: the underlying causes of the health gap. Lancet 374, 7685.

52. K Hill , B Barker & T Vos (2007) Excess Indigenous mortality: are Indigenous Australians more severely disadvantaged than other Indigenous populations? Int J Epidemiol 36, 580589.

53. N Ohenjo , R Willis , D Jackson et al. (2006) Health of Indigenous people in Africa. Lancet 367, 19371946.

54. CW Rigby , A Rosen , HL Berry et al. (2011) If the land’s sick, we’re sick: the impact of prolonged drought on the social and emotional well-being of Aboriginal communities in rural New South Wales. Aust J Rural Health 19, 249254.

55. C Stephens , J Porter , C Nettleton et al. (2006) Disappearing, displaced, and undervalued: a call to action for Indigenous health worldwide. Lancet 367, 20192028.

56. JD Ford (2012) Indigenous health and climate change. Am J Public Health 102, 12601266.

58. T Tao & G Wall (2009) Tourism as a sustainable livelihood strategy. Tourism Manag 30, 9098.

59. P Dyer , L Aberdeen & S Schuler (2003) Tourism impacts on an Australian indigenous community: a Djabugay case study. Tourism Manag 24, 8395.

61. M Levien (2012) The land question: special economic zones and the political economy of dispossession in India. J Peasant Stud 39, 933969.

62. JK Tobias & CAM Richmond (2014) ‘That land means everything to us as Anishinaabe…’: environmental dispossession and resilience on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Health Place 29, 2633.

64. E Masset , L Haddad , A Cornelius et al. (2012) Effectiveness of agricultural interventions that aim to improve nutritional status of children: systematic review. BMJ 344, d8222.

65. JB Smith , T Dickinson , JDB Donahue et al. (2011) Development and climate change adaptation funding: coordination and integration. Clim Policy 11, 9871000.

67. D Campbell-Lendrum , L Manga , M Bagayoko et al. (2015) Climate change and vector-borne diseases: what are the implications for public health research and policy? Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 370, 20130552.

68. A Haines , KL Ebi , KR Smith et al. (2014) Health risks of climate change: act now or pay later. Lancet 384, 10731075.

69. M Neira , D Campbell-Lendrum , M Maiero et al. (2014) Health and climate change: the end of the beginning? Lancet 384, 20852086.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Public Health Nutrition
  • ISSN: 1368-9800
  • EISSN: 1475-2727
  • URL: /core/journals/public-health-nutrition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary Materials

Patterson supplementary material
Patterson supplementary material 1

 PDF (195 KB)
195 KB


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 31
Total number of PDF views: 297 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 370 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 13th September 2016 - 19th August 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.