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The impact of social capital typologies on household food security in Phalombe, Malawi

Authors: Ailish Craig*, University of Southampton
Topics: Food Systems, Development, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: food security, social capital, resilience, food access
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This study aims to further understanding in how social capital impacts household food security in Southern Malawi, whilst also considering gender. Social capital was unpacked into its three typologies; bonding, bridging and linking to establish which typology was most important in predicting household food security. A mixed method approach was adopted using logistic regressions and focus group discussions, with logistic regressions using data from the Fourth Malawian Integrated Household Survey. The food security score was calculated using Food Insecurity Experience Scale questions which focuses specifically on food security access. Logistic regressions were repeated for male and female household heads so comparisons could be made.


Results showed that bonding and bridging social capital improved a household’s food security, with bridging social capital being the most important social capital typology. Linking social capital decreased a household’s food security, however, this may be linked to the proxies used to create the linking score. Focus groups also highlighted the temporal aspect of social capital with bridging social capital no longer ranked as the most important during an extreme weather event. Further analysis on the temporal aspects has since been started.


Female household heads had a significantly higher likelihood of being food insecure and social capital typologies impacted on households differently depending on gender. The most important typology for predicting household food access was linking and bonding for male and female headed households, respectfully. Social capital typologies have varying effects on different people at different times and this needs to be considered in future studies.

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