Experiences and drivers of food insecurity in Guatemala's dry corridor: insights from the integration of ethnographic and household survey data

Eradicating hunger is a complex and multifaceted challenge, requiring evidence bases that can inform wide scale action, but that are also participatory and grounded to have local relevance and effectiveness. The Rural Household Multi-Indicator Surveys (RHoMIS) provides a broad assessment of household capabilities and food security outcomes, while ethnographic approaches evidence how individuals' perceptions, experiences and local socio-political context shape food security experiences and intervention outcomes. However, integrating these research approaches presents methodological and ontological challenges. We combine a quantitative approach with life history interviews to understand the drivers, experiences and outcomes of food insecurity in Guatemala's dry corridor region. We also reflect on the effectiveness and challenges of integrating the two methods for purposes of selective sampling, triangulating evidence, and producing a cohesive analyses of food insecurity in the region. Variables with a statistically significant association with severe food insecurity in the region are: coffee cultivation (when market participation is low), dependence on agricultural labor income, and poverty level. Drivers of food insecurity experiences most commonly identified by participants are: consecutive drought; ill health and displacement of income for medicine; social marginalization; high start-up costs in production; absence or separation of a household head; and a lack of income and education opportunity. Ethnographic approaches identify a broader range of drivers contributing to food insecurity experiences, and add explanatory power to a statistical model of severe food insecurity. This integrated analysis provides a holistic picture of food insecurity in Guatemala's dry corridor region.