SCH Research Seminar: Breastfeeding Practices and Rural-Urban Livelihoods in Dodoma, Tanzania

Monday 3 December,

12:00 – 13:30, Leeuwenborch C67

Breastfeeding Practices and Rural-Urban Livelihoods in Dodoma, Tanzania

Based on a paper prepared by Kwalu Samuel Dede, Leo de Haan, Adalbertus Kamanzi

The World Health Organization recommends mothers to exclusively breastfeed babies for the first six months of their life to guarantee mutually optimal health and growth, not only during the childhood phase, and later in their old age. This is because mother’s milk has the potential to provide all nutritive substance babies need. It enhances their immune system, physical and emotional development besides benefits to mothers themselves and the community at large. Regardless of the benefits of EBF to the infants, the mothers, and the community, its rate remains at 40% globally far below the projection of 70% by 2030. Thus, understanding the factors that prevent mothers to exclusively breastfeed infants remains vital. The objective of this study was to explore and establish how EBF practices is affected by rural-urban livelihoods. Specifically, the study established the rural-urban differences in breastfeeding practices, and then examined the how rural-urban livelihoods affects breastfeeding practices. The study revealed that 51% of the urban women practised EBF compared to 62% of their counterparts. We also found that the nature of livelihood activity the woman is engaged in, has an influence on breastfeeding practices. And that there are other embedded factors such as distance from work, work on shift, environmental conditions (hygiene and hazardous), conditioning of the baby and that knowledge about breastfeeding does not, in all probabilities, transform to improved breastfeeding practices. We may conclude that because of the differences both in environmental structures and population composition by location, breastfeeding related interventions better be contextualized. And that policy and decision makers including planners must change their approaches to investing in breastfeeding related programmes, plans and projects. This is would guarantee reduced infants’ morbidity and deaths through improved EBF in our communities within and by locations.

Dede is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Ecology at The Institute of Social Studies in the Hague, researching on “the Exclusive Breastfeeding Dilemma in Tanzania”. His study focuses on the rural-urban differentials looking at why there is a mismatch between health guidelines and community practices in exclusive breastfeeding.

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