Thumbnail Image

Seasonal differences in household food security among oyster harvesting communities in Ghana: A longitudinal study

Craigmile, Jessica
Background: Small-scale fisheries play an important role in community livelihood by providing a source of food and income. However, improper fishing practices like overharvesting have posed a threat to the growth and population of oyster fisheries. In 2017, a community in Ghana began implementing a 5 month (Nov-Apr) closed season in Ghana to improve oyster growth, meaning oyster grounds are closed to harvesting. While the closed season has been proven to contribute to the sustainability of oysters, it is unknown how its implementation impacts food security among affected communities. Objectives: We aimed to examine: 1) the prevalence of household food insecurity (HFI), 2) differences in HFI between the open and closed seasons, and 3) factors associated with HFI among oyster harvesting communities in Ghana. Methods: As part of a longitudinal study, interviews were conducted with 123 women during the closed (March 2020) and open (August 2020) seasons. We assessed HFI using the HFIAS as well as sociodemographic characteristics, food consumption, oyster consumption and anthropometrics. We analyzed differences in (binary) HFI prevalence between the closed and open seasons using logistic regression. We adjusted for prespecified covariates if they were significantly associated with the outcome at a 15% level of significance. Potential covariates examined include age, household size, and other characteristics. Results: A majority of participants were food insecure at one or both timepoints (85%). Of these, 2%, 33% and 50% were mildly, moderately, and severely food insecure, respectively. Results showed that participants were significantly more likely to be food insecure in the open season compared to the closed season in both unadjusted (OR 2.30, 95% CI:1.33;3.98, P=0.0030) and adjusted (OR 2.36, 95% CI: 1.31;4.23, P=0.0041) analysis. Conclusion: Our study found that participants were more likely to be food insecure in the open season compared to the closed season in an oyster harvesting community in the Greater Accra Region. Further studies outside of the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic are needed to confirm this finding. These results may benefit organizations focused on fishery management or alleviating food insecurity by highlighting when households are at higher risk for food insecurity.