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Perception and comprehension of concepts of the Brazilian Food Insecurity Scale in indigenous communities in the state of Amazonas, Brazil

OBJECTIVE: The objective was to evaluate the perception and comprehension of concepts and terminology related to food security and insecurity, especially those that comprise the Brazilian Food Insecurity Scale, in the context of indigenous socio-cultural reality. METHODS: Qualitative research techniques were used in Cacau, Flexeira and Mamori indigenous communities located in the Médio Juruá watershed, in the municipalities of Envira and Eirunepé (AM). The methods were based on a methodology used previously in Brazil and adapted to the present context in a meeting of specialists familiar with these indigenous communities. Next, focus groups were organized in each one of the three communities, with a total of 18 participants. RESULTS: Hunger appeared as a phenomenon experienced frequently by the participants. Many of the concepts and terms, such as "food security", "hunger", and "good food", were well-understood, but others, such as "varied food", "sufficient food" "strategies to avoid problems with food" were not. Everyday life depends on family relations that allow exchanges, which differs from studies conducted previously in urban and rural areas, where difficulties related to access to food were due to lack of financial resources. The subject of trading, or exchanges, appeared often during the focus groups, as well as a collective aspect of the experience of food security that had not emerged previously in focus groups conducted as part of the Brazilian Food Insecurity Scale validation. CONCLUSION: More in-depth qualitative and quantitative studies are needed to develop a food security measurement instrument that reflects the reality of these indigenous communities while, at the same time, provides results that are comparable to other indigenous communities as well as to results obtained using the Brazilian Food Insecurity Scale in other populations. To apprehend the situation of food security in these grups is necessary an instrument that takes into consideration the question of trading/exchange, the collective aspect, and the importance of the environment in their experiences related to food security and insecurity. It is recommended that, if questionnaires are to be used, that they should be kept as short and simple as possible.

Food insecurity; Indigenous population; Food security

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