Understanding the Drivers of Diet Change and Food Choice Among Tanzanian Pastoralists to Inform Policy and Practice


Pastoralists represent more than 300-600 million people globally. In response to increasing environmental, social, and political pressures, many pastoralists are shifting to more sedentary livelihood strategies (sedentarization).  Research in East Africa suggests sedentarization detrimentally impacts maternal and child diets, especially consumption of animal foods, nutrition and health. Our goal is to explain how shifting livelihoods strategies among Tanzanian pastoralists influence socio-cultural and gender norms, food access and food valuation and how the intersections of these ultimately influence food choice. Specifically, and across permutations of sedentarization, we will use longitudinal, mixed methods research to: 1) assess access to food, especially animal foods; 2) identify the ‘emic’ values ascribed to different foods, how those values are shared across community members and their contributions to individual and collective identity; 3) describe how these values are prioritized in the context of economic and environmental pressures and implications for diet patterns and nutrition of household members, and 4) evaluate the effect of dairy value chain participation and market integration on household food production, sale, access, expenditures and consumption. Ultimately our work will lead to the development of a theory of diet change in the pastoral context and a framework for policy and program action.

Lead Institution

  • Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University


Collaborating Institutions

  • International Livestock Research Institute
  • Sokoine University of Agriculture

Principal Investigator(s)

  • Amy Webb Girard, PhD, Assistant Professor, Hubert Department of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University


  • Peter Little, PhD, Professor (and former Chair), Department of Anthropology & Director, Development Studies Program, Laney Graduate School, Emory University
  • Kathryn Yount, PhD, Candler Professor of Global Health, Hubert Department of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health & Department of Sociology, Emory University
  • Paula Dominguez-Salas, DVM, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Royal Veterinary College and the International Livestock Research Institute
  • Joyce Kinabo, PhD, Professor of Human Nutrition, Department of Food Science and Technology, Sokoine University of Agriculture
  • Akwilina Mwanri, PhD, Lecturer in Food and Nutritional Sciences, Sokoine University of Agriculture

Journal Publications

Posters & Presentations

  • “Understanding the drivers of diet change and food choice among Tanzanian pastoralists.” By Kelly J, Girard AW. 3rd Agriculture, Nutrition & Health (ANH) Academy Week, Accra, Ghana, 25-29 June 2018.


Research Brief


Open Access Data

Webinar Presentation