In October 2018, in its “Comprendre, agir et partager” collection, GRET published a study conducted by Lucile Joan in the Mouhoun Loop in Burkina Faso, as part of a Masters in social sciences applied to feeding practices.
This study compares and contrasts nutritional and socio-anthropological approaches to nutrition and focuses on feeding practices for young children in rural areas in Burkina Faso. Conducted as part of the Repam project (Resilience of poor and very poor populations and food security in the Mouhoun Loop, in French), it argues that to define effective strategies for the prevention of malnutrition, it is necessary to take account of local knowledge, perceptions and know-how regarding feeding practices. To do this, socio-anthropology makes it possible to take a complementary, pertinent approach to traditional diagnoses.
Describing daily feeding practices for young children and the socio-cultural logic underlying these, with the example of villages in the Mouhoun Loop it illustrates how “eating” and “being a child” are social constructs. It shows how – influenced by taste and associated food identities and driven by routine practices and domestic know-how – food choices are as much related to “being a society” as to the wish to feed or eat.
Highlighting the differences between technical readings in nutrition projects and the sociocultural logic behind feeding practices, this study concludes with several operational avenues for better inclusion of these elements in projects working to prevent malnutrition.