Household food security and nutritional status of the underfive year olds in Navakholo Division Kakamega District
Waiswa, Mary Nawire
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Malnutrition is a major cause of poor nutritional status in children between the ages of 6 - 59 months, because children at this stage are most vulnerable to inadequate dietary intake and illness. This results in long-term growth failure manifesting as stunting, poor intellectual capacity, reduction of work productivity, reduced earning capacity and eventually food production. The main objective of this study was to assess the household food security and nutritional status of the under fives in sugarcane farming households of Navakholo Division Kakamega District. This was a cross sectional study covering a sample of 146 households. The study was designed to address the scope and magnitude of food security and nutritional status under fives in four ways: Anthropometric instruments, a questionnaire with both open ended and closed-ended questions, observation checklist and focus group discussion. Data were collected and analyzed using a computer software Statistical Package for Social Sciences. Frequencies, means and percentages were used to organize and describe the results. Pearson and Spearman test were used to establish relationship in different variables. Anthropometric data were analyzed using EPI-INFO 2000 computer package. The results revealed that 97.3% of the respondents had their own land, which was a mean of 3 acres, 91.8% of the HH had more than a third of this land on sugarcane growing. The findings also showed that 40.3% of the under five were stunted, 18% wasted and 28.2% were underweight. Majority of these children had been ill two weeks prior to the study. Income levels were low, most HH received Kshs. 2500 - 9000, resulting in lack of meal diversity, 20% of the under fives were served with lunch. Maize meal and sukuma wiki were the major component of meals served. At the time of the study, most HHs were food insecure with 65% of the respondents having no food in store. Household size was correlated with nutritional status. (r = 0.140 p = 0.022), size of land on both sugarcane and food crops was (r = 0.29 p = 0.001) underweight and stunting (p = 0.004). Land and stored food were correlated at (r = 0.100 p = 0.05). The results of the study showed that most HHs were food insecure and the nutritional status of the under fives was higher than the national levels. The study, therefore, recommends that sugarcane farmers should diversify sources of income to improve on food security and nutritional status of the under fives.