Explaining food insecurity among indigenous households of the Sierra Tarahumara in the Mexican state of Chihuahua

Otilia-Vanessa Cordero-Ahiman, Eduardo Santellano-Estrada, Alberto Garrido


Numerous studies have analyzed the factors that determine food security and explored the problem from regional or national points of view. However, there has been less research targeting an understanding of the food security problem at the household level in specific rural locations like indigenous communities. Indigenous groups are recognized as priority groups in Mexico, because they live in a situation of poverty. For this reason, the objective of this research was to investigate the determinants of food insecurity among the indigenous communities of the Sierra Tarahumara in Mexico. We used the Latin American and Caribbean Household Food Security Measurement Scale (ELCSA). This scale is useful for measuring food insecurity levels in households. A questionnaire was administered to 123 households. We employed the method based on Cronbach's alpha to measure internal consistency, which was 0.96. In addition, we estimated the main determinants of household food insecurity using both ordered logit model and binomial logit model. We found that approximately 59.35% of households were living in a situation of severe food insecurity. The two predictive models applied suggest that: i) income is the most important determinant of access to food; ii) increased maize production improves food security; iii) farmers consume their seed stocks in times of food scarcity, and iv) households are food insecure when the householders are in casual employment. Akaike's information criterion and the Bayesian information criterion suggest that the goodness of fit to the data was better for the ordered logit model.


ELCSA; measurement; poverty; human health; logit model

Full Text:



Bashir MK, Schilizzi S, Pandit R, 2012. The determinants of rural household food security: The case of landless households of the Punjab, Pakistan, Working Paper 1208, School of Agr & Resour Econ, Univ of Western Australia, Crawley, Australia. http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/126035/2/WP120008.pdf. [20 February 2016].

Bauermann M, D'Aquino M, Padilha da Silva J, Etsuko da Costa R, Mota dos Santos S, Pacheco dos Santos L, 2010. Use of a predictive model for food insecurity estimates in Brazil. Archivos Latinoamericanos de Nutricion 60 (2): 119-125.

Benson T, 2007. Study of household food security in urban slum areas of Bangladesh. Final report for World Food Programme, International Food Policy Research Institute, Food Consumption and Nutrition Division, Washington. http://documents.wfp.org/ [11 February 2016].

Bezuneh M, Yiheyis Z, Del Rosario PJ, Ortiz L, 2007. Assessing the degree of food insecurity in the Dominican Republic: A pilot project. http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/handle/36971 [11 November 2015].

Carlson SJ, Andrews MS, Bickel GW, 1999. Measuring food insecurity and hunger in the United States: development of a national benchmark measure and prevalence estimates. J Nutr Educ 129 (2): 510s-516s.

CDI/PNUD, 2006a. Regiones indígenas de México. Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas. Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo, México. http://www.cdi.gob.mx/regiones/regiones_indigenas_cdi.pdf [28 September 2015].

CDI/PNUD, 2006b. Informe sobre desarrollo humano de los pueblos indígenas de México 2006. Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas. Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo, México. http://www.cdi.gob.mx/idh/informe_desarrollo_humano_pueblos_indigenas_mexico_2006.pdf [28 September 2015].

Cohen MJ, Smale M, 2012. Global food-price shocks and poor people: Themes and case studies. https://books.google.es/ [12 February 2016].

CONEVAL, 2015. Diagnóstico de la capacidad productiva de los hogares rurales y pérdidas post-cosecha. Consejo Nacional de Evaluación de la Política de Desarrollo Social. http://www.coneval.org.mx/ [03 October 2016].

CONEVAL, 2016a. Evolución de las líneas de bienestar y de la canasta alimentaria. Consejo Nacional de Evaluación de la Política de Desarrollo Social http://www.coneval.org.mx/Medicion/MP/Paginas/Lineas-de-bienestar-y-canasta-basica.aspx [28 September 2015].

CONEVAL, 2016b. Evaluación integral del desempeño de los programas federales de ayuda alimentaria y generación de capacidades, 2014-2015. Consejo Nacional de Evaluación de la Política de Desarrollo Social, México. http://www.coneval.org.mx/ [29 September 2016].

Cronbach L, 1951. Coeficiente alfa y la estructura interna de pruebas. Psychometrica 16 (3): 297-334. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02310555

FAO, 1999. Seed policy and programmes for Sub-Saharan Africa. Proc Reg Tech Meet on Seed Policy and Programmes for Sub-Saharan Africa. https://books.google.es/[20 December 2015].

FAO, 2008. What do high food prices mean for farmers' seed access? ftp://ftp.fao.org/es/ESA/policybriefs/seed_access_en.pdf [17 December 2015].

FAO, 2012. Escala Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Seguridad Alimentaria (ELCSA)-Manual de uso y aplicación. http://www.fao.org/docrep/019/i3065s/i3065s.pdf [17 December 2015].

FAO, 2013. Panorama de la seguridad alimentaria y nutricional en Mexico 2012. http://www.colpos.mx/wb_pdf/Panorama_Seguridad_Alimentaria.pdf [17 December 2015].

FAO, 2015. Espacios de diálogo como estrategia para integrar el derecho a la alimentación en municipios rurales de América Latina. http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4563s.pdf [17 December 2015].

FAO/IFAD/WFP, 2015. The state of food insecurity in the world-Meeting the 2015 international hunger targets: taking stock of uneven progress. FAO, International Fund for Agricultural Development and World Food Programme. Rome, Italy. http://www.fao.org/3/a4ef2d16-70a7-460a-a9ac-2a65a533269a/i4646e.pdf [18 January 2015].

Farías A, Aranda H, 2008. Estudio básico de comunidad. Ejido San Ignacio de Arareco. Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua. http://www.fz.uach.mx/data/files/Estudio%20Basico%20San%20Ignacio%20de%20Arareco.pdf [15 September 2016].

Fernández P, Embriz, Serrano E, Medina M, 2006. Indicadores con perspectiva de género para los pueblos indígenas. CDI, México. http://www.gob.mx/cms/uploads/attachment/file/35734/cdi-indicadores-perspectiva-genero-2006.pdf [26 September 2016].

Generoso R, 2015. How do rainfall variability, food security and remittances interact? The case of rural Mali. Ecol Econ 114: 188-198. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2015.03.009

Greene WH, 2003. Econometric analysis. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, USA. 1026 pp.

Gujarati D, Porter D, 2009. Basic econometrics. McGraw-Hill/Irwin Inc., NY. 921 pp.

Gulliford MC, Nunes C, Rocke B, 2006. The 18 household food security survey items provide valid food security classifications for adults and children in the Caribbean. BMC Public Health 6: 26. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-6-26

GTZ, 2014. Farmers as bankers-Community seed banks. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit. https://www.giz.de/expertise/downloads/giz2014-en-community-seed-banks.pdf [12 January 2016].

Hackett M, Zubieta AC, Hernandez K, Melgar-Quiñonez H, 2007. Food insecurity and household food supplies in rural Ecuador. Arch Latinoam Nutric 57 (1): 10-17.

Hackett M, Melgar-Quinonez H, Uribe MCA, 2008. Internal validity of a household food security scale is consistent among diverse populations participating in a food supplement program in Colombia. BMC Public Health 8: 175. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-8-175

Hamilton WL, Cook JT, Thompson WW, Buron LF, Frongillo EA, Olson CM, Wehler CA, 1997. Household food security in the United States in 1995. Summary Report of the Food Security Measurement Project. http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/SUMRPT.PDF [20 January 2016].

Ingelmo F, Molina M, Miguel de Paz M, Visconti F, 2011. Soil saturated hydraulic conductivity assessment from expert evaluation of field characteristics using an ordered logistic regression model. Soil Till Res 115-116: 27-38. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.still.2011.06.004

LaRochelle S, Berkes F, 2003. Traditional ecological knowledge and practice for edible wild plants: Biodiversity use by the Rarámuri, in the Sierra Tarahumara, Mexico. Int J Sust Dev World Ecol 10 (4): 361-375. https://doi.org/10.1080/13504500309470112

Leontitsis A, Pagge J, 2007. A simulation approach on Cronbach's alpha statistical significance. Math Comput Simul 73 (5): 336-340. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.matcom.2006.08.001

Long JS, Freese J, 2006. Regression models for categorical dependent variables using Stata. Stata press.

Lorenzana P, Sanjur D, 1999. Abbreviated measures of food sufficiency validly estimate the food security level of poor households: Measuring Household food security. J Nutr 129 (3): 687-692.

Maitra C, Prasada D, 2015. Poverty-food security nexus: Evidence from a survey of urban slum dwellers in Kolkata. World Dev 72: 308-325. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2015.03.006

Melgar-Quiñonez H, 2010. Validación de la escala latinoamericana y caribeña para la medición de la seguridad alimentaria (ELCSA) en Guatemala. http://coin.fao.org/coin-static/cms/media/9/13155829028740/validacion_elcsa_guatemala.pdf [15 February 2016].

Melgar-Quiñonez H, Hackett M, 2008. Measuring household food security: the global experience. Revista de Nutrição 21 (S): 27-37.

Melgar-Quiñonez H, Zubieta A.C, Valdez E, Whitelaw B, Kaiser L, 2005. Validación de un instrumento para vigilar la inseguridad alimentaria en la Sierra de Manantlán, Jalisco. Salud Pública de México 47 (6): 413-422.

Melgar-Quinonez HR, Zubieta AC, MkNelly B, Nteziyaremye A, Gerardo MF, Dunford C, 2006. Household food insecurity and food expenditure in Bolivia, Burkina Faso, and the Philippines. J Nutr 136 (5): 1431-1437.

Melgar-Quiñonez H, Alvarez-Uribe MC, Fonseca-Centeno ZY, Bermúdez O, Fulladolsa P, Fulladolsa A, Parás P, Perez-Escamilla R, 2010. Características psicométricas de la escala de seguridad alimentaria ELCSA aplicada en Colombia, Guatemala y México. Revista Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional, Campinas, 17 (1): 48-60.

Muñoz-Astudillo M, Martínez J, Quintero A. 2010. Validación de la escala latinoamericana y caribeña de seguridad alimentaria en gestantes adolescentes. Revista Salud Pública 12 (2): 173-183. https://doi.org/10.1590/S0124-00642010000200001

Neufeld L, 2007. Modificación de políticas públicas a partir de resultados de evaluación. Salud Pública de México 49: 157-159.

Nord M, Parker L, 2010. How adequately are food needs of children in low-income households being met? Children and Youth Services Review 32 (9): 1175-1185. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2010.03.005

Nord M, Melgar-Quiñonez H, Pérez-Escamilla R, 2007. Desarrollando métodos estandarizados para medir la inseguridad alimentaria del hogar en América Latina y el Caribe. Memorias de la 1ª Conferencia en América Latina y el Caribe sobre la medición de la seguridad alimentaria en el hogar. Perspectivas en Nutrición Humana (S): 135-148.

Pérez C, 2012. Econometría básica. Aplicaciones con EVIEWS, STATA, SAS y SPSS, 1fs. Ibergarceta Publ SL, Madrid, Spain. 630 pp.

Pérez-Cirera V, Lovett J, 2006. Power distribution, the external environment and common property forest governance: A local user groups model. Ecol Econ 59 (3): 341-352. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2005.11.002

Pérez-Escamilla R, 2012. Can experience-based household food security scales help improve food security governance? Global Food Security 1: 120-125. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gfs.2012.10.006

Pérez-Escamilla R, Dessalines M, Finnigan M, Pachón H, Hromi-Fiedler A, Gupta N, 2009. Household food insecurity is associated with childhood malaria in rural Haiti. J Nutr 139 (11): 2132-2138. https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.109.108852

Posada SL, Noguera RR, 2007. Comparación de modelos matemáticos: una aplicación en la evaluación de alimentos para animales. Revista Colombiana de Ciencias Pecuarias 20 (2): 141-148.

Radimer KL, Olson CM, Greene JC, Campbell CC, Habicht JP, 1992. Understanding hunger and developing indicators to assess it in women and children. J Nutr Educ 24 (1): 36- 44. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-3182(12)80137-3

Sasidharana L, Menéndez M, 2014. Partial proportional odds model - An alternate choice for analyzing pedestrian crash injury severities. Accident Analysis and Prevention 72: 330-340. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aap.2014.07.025

Saucedo G, Chávez A, García V, 2003. Salud y nutrición en la Sierra Tarahumara. Estudios de Antropología Biológica XI: 343-364.

Saucedo G, Gardea N, Sánchez R, Ramírez, 2012. Hambre, presente en la memoria y cultura de los indígenas de la sierra Tarahumara. Revista Alter, Enfoques Críticos, 6: 71-85.

Segall-Corrêa A, Marin-León L, Melgar-Quiñonez H, Pérez-Escamilla R, 2014. Refinement of the Brazilian Household Food Insecurity Measurement Scale: Recommendation for a 14-item EBIA. Revista de Nutrição, 27(2): 241-251. https://doi.org/10.1590/1415-52732014000200010

Shamah-Levy T, Mundo-Rosas V, Rivera-Dommarco JA, 2014. La magnitud de la inseguridad alimentaria en México: su relación con el estado de nutrición y con factores socioeconómicos. Salud Pública de México 56 (1): 79-85.

SHCP, 2016. Cuadro histórico de los salarios mínimos (1982-2016). Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público, Mexico. http://www.sat.gob.mx/informacion_fiscal/tablas_indicadores/Paginas/salarios_minimos.aspx [25 September 2016].

Sonnino R, Lozano Torres C, Schneider S, 2014. Reflexive governance for food security: The example of school feeding in Brazil. J Rural Stud 36: 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2014.06.003

Suárez C, 2005. Situación sociodemográfica de los pueblos indígenas de México. Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas. http://www.cepal.org/celade/noticias/paginas/7/21237/csuarez.pdf [11 September 2016].

Train K, 2009. Discrete choice methods with simulation. Cambridge Univ Press, NY. 385 pp. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511805271

UN, 2015. The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015. United Nations. http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Resources/Static/Products/Progress2015/English2015.pdf [20 December 2015].

UN, 2016, The global goals for sustainable development-2.Zero Hunger. United Nations. http://www.globalgoals.org/global-goals/no-hunger/ [20 October 2016].

Vieira L, Fernandes M, Santana D, 2013. Food security and agricultural productivity in Brazilian metropolitan regions. ICOAE. Procedia Econ Financ 5: 202-211. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2212-5671(13)00026-9

Villagómez-Ornelas P, Hernández-López P, Carrasco-Enríquez B, Barrios-Sánchez K, Pérez-Escamilla R, Melgar-Quiñónez H, 2014. Validez estadística de la escala mexicana de seguridad alimentaria y la escala latinoamericana y caribeña de seguridad alimentaria. Salud Pública de México 56 (1): 5-11.

Wehler CA, Scott RI, Anderson JJ, 1992. The community childhood identification project: a model of domestic hunger-Demonstration project in Seattle, Washington. J Nutr Educ 24 (1): 29-35. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-3182(12)80135-X

Zabludovsky K, 2012. Food crisis as drought and cold hit Mexico. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/31/[20 January 2017].

DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2017151-10151