Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Dr. Isaac Luginaah


Although the importance of food as a social determinant of health has been elucidated, it remains underexplored in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where a significant population is faced with challenges of accessing food, largely from a combination many factors including low economic power, poor livelihoods, political instability and policy gaps. Despite tremendous improvement on food security in Ghana, the northern part of the country including the Upper West Region still experience disproportionally high levels of deprivation and food insecurity. Research has tends to explain the dynamics and complexities of food insecurity in the Region, yet variation of the incidence of food insecurity across different geo-political districts in the region and its association with human health is less examined. In response, this thesis examines the relationship between household food insecurity and health in the Upper West Region of Ghana.

Results from quantitative survey (n=1438) conducted in all the eleven districts of the Upper West Region from May to August, 2014 show that households that received remittance and located in both rural and urban areas as well as non-remittance receiving households in rural areas were more likely to report being severely food insecure compared to non-remittance receiving households in urban areas. Those who reported being food insecure were more likely to report poor mental health. Although migration and remittance have been used by households to address food insecurity, the findings here show that migration and remittance may not adequately impact on food insecurity in all contexts, giving prominence to the role of local context in influencing the persistent food insecurity situation in the Upper West Region of Ghana. The research demonstrates that use of Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFAIS) in most sever periods of food insecurity would produce much higher scores of food insecurity compared to scores produced from use of Food Consumption Scores (FCS). Also, the use of subjective health rating tool (the DUKE Health Profile) in this research indicates its wider applicability. The study makes suggestions for an integrated food security policy, decentralization of mental health care, and expansion of the economic potential of the Upper West Region. Future research directions are also discussed.