Human Ecology

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 529–570

Nutritional Consequences of Wealth Differentials in East African Pastoralists: The Case of the Datoga of Northern Tanzania

  • Daniel W. Sellen


Among African pastoralists evidence that wealth is associated with other measures of household success is scant and the significance of wealth differentials for family welfare remains poorly understood. Predictions that wealth in livestock is associated with increased adequacy of household food supply and with improved child nutrition are tested with longitudinal data on herd size, household composition, food supply, and anthropometric status collected in 1992 for a sample of traditional Datoga households (n = 20) living in the Eyasi basin in northern Tanzania. Although a majority subsisted below poverty cutoffs estimated for east African pastoral populations, there was large variation among households in measures of wealth and resource availability. Individuals in relatively wealthy households did not appear to benefit either in terms of adequacy of household food supply or in terms of average growth performance of young children. Theoretical and methodological challenges in the study of the relationship between wealth and health in nomadic pastoralists are discussed.

household wealth household economics herding, anthropometry children food security stunting wasting undernutrition polygamy polygyny labor 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel W. Sellen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyEmory UniversityAtlanta

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