LCRIAH Seminar: Physical activity, energy expenditures, and time use in agriculture and rural livelihood: Protocols and preliminary findings from a pilot study in northern Ghana

Date and Time

Tuesday, November 29, 2016 - 12:30 to 13:30

Event type



LIDC Upper Meeting Room


Giacomo Zanello, LCIRAH & University of Reading


We show how integrating energy expenditure data from wearable accelerometry devices with data on activity and time-use can provide a window into agricultural and rural livelihoods in developing country contexts that has not been previously available for empirical research. We report on the protocols adopted and the preliminary findings from a pilot study in Northern Ghana involving 40 respondents wearing accelerometry devices for a week. The method adopted allows for a robust and precise delineation of gender-differentiated intra-household allocation of labour in rural households. Our findings confirm some of the stylised facts of agricultural and rural livelihoods, but the study also provides several new insights. While the overall daily energy expenditure for men is greater than for women, we find that women consistently maintain higher physical activity levels than men through the course of the day. Men and women spend a similar proportion of their time on economic activities – the greater proportion of time that women spend on domestic activities appears to involve a trade-off against opportunities for social interactions. Agricultural and rural livelihoods are dominated by “light” and “moderate” activities rather than by “vigorous” activities. Daily energy expenditure for both men and women is substantially lower than the norm (2900 kcal per day) used for computation of the poverty line in Ghana. We explore the potential applications of the protocols and methods for a better understanding of agriculture-nutrition linkages in developing countries.