Burden of household food insecurity in urban slum settings


This study examined the burden of food insecurity in India’s un-notified slums, using an SDG framework to identify correlates of food insecurity. A convenience sampling approach was employed in selecting 38 slums from 675 un-notified slums across four geographic zones. Ten percent of the households in each slum site were selected from each zone, and one household member was interviewed, based on their availability and fulfilment of the eligibility criteria. Eligible individuals included those aged 18 years and above, who were resident in the selected slums and provided consent. Individuals with mental or physical challenges were excluded. A total sample of 907 study participants were included. Results showed that 43% (n = 393) of the participants were food insecure. More than half were females (73%, n = 285), who had not completed any schooling (51%, n = 202). One-third (n = 128) resided in the Northern Region of Delhi. SDG-related predictors of food insecurity included: household educational level (SDG 4 Quality education) (p = 0.03), coverage of health service needs (SDG 3 Good health and well-being) (p = 0.0002), electricity needs (SDG 7 affordable and clean energy) (p<0.0001), and employment needs (SDG 8 Decent and economic growth) (p = 0.003). Having healthcare needs that were partially or fully met was equally associated with higher food insecurity: this could be attributed to high healthcare costs and the lack of federal subsidies in un-notified slums, collectively contributing to high out-of-pocket health costs. Failure to fully meet employment needs was also significantly associated with higher food insecurity. However, met needs for electricity, finance, women’s safety and satisfactory family relationships, were associated with lower food insecurity. Household predictors of food insecurity included: number of household members, and the presence of physically disabled household members. Necessary interventions should include connecting food insecure households to existing social services such as India’s Public Distribution System, and multi-sector partnerships to address the existing challenges.

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