Hunger and Social Change: West Midnapur

Food insecurity is an ongoing health problem defined by community members in the West Midnapur district of West Bengal, being expressed in lack of basic food, undernutrition, and everyday struggles to secure food. Building on earlier CCA work that identifies the problem of food insecurity as central to the definition of health in West Bengal, the current project digs deeper into the meanings of health and meanings of food insecurity, working through in-depth interviews, focus groups, and advisory board meetings to identify the underlying problems that result in food insecurity and seeking to work toward solutions that address these underlying problems. In the stories of hunger shared by community members, food insecurity is felt in the body and in the physical experiences of absence, described as abhab. Current ongoing research in the Jangalmahal area of West Midnapur district specifically focuses on the scarcity of water in the area and the corresponding problems of food insecurity that arise out of lack of access to water. Through culturally-centered ethnography, advisory group leadership, in-depth interviews, household surveys, and PhotoVoice, the current phase of the project is focused on building grassroots solutions of change related to access to water, defining water supply as critical in solving food insecurity.   Relevant publications: Dutta, M., & Basu, A. (2007). Health among men in rural Bengal: Approaching meanings through a culture-centered approach. Qualitative Health Research, 17, 38-48. [Read Full Text] Dutta-Bergman, M. (2004). Poverty, structural barriers and health: A Santali narrative of health communication. Qualitative Health Research, 14, 1-16. [Read Full Text] Dutta-Bergman, M. (2004). The unheard voices of Santalis: Communicating about health from the margins of India. Communication Theory, 14, 237-263. [Read Full Text]    

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