The influence of childcare practices on the nutritional status of pastoral and agro-pastroral children in Katilu location, Turkana District
Bosire, Susan Mwango
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This was a descriptive study on the child-care practices among the Turkana pastoral and agro-pastoral communities. The main objective of the study was to determine the relationship between care practices and children's nutritional status. It focused on how the care behaviors were perfomed, the factors that determined the quality of care, including caregivers' resources, maternal and child characteristics and related the resultant care to the nutritional status of the children. The nutritional outcomes of the care practices were assessed through anthropometry and the quality of care was determined by observing the interactions of the children with their caregivers during meal time. This study targeted households with children aged 3-36 months. Purposive sampling of the villages was done to include populations from two lifestyle groups found in Katilu location (agro-pastoralists and pastoralists). Simple random sampling was used to obtain the household samples from seven villages and a total of 156 respondents were included in the study, with a representation of 79 (50.6%) pastoralist and 77 (49.4%) agro-pastoralists. The data collected was prepared for analysis using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). World Health Organization's standards of reference were used to analyze the anthropometric data. The findings indicate that the availability and accessibility of the care resources determine the quality of the care given to the children and consequently the nutritional status of the children to a large extent. A greater percentage of the pastoral children were severely wasted, and stunted than the agro-pastoral children while more agro-pastoral children were observed to be moderately underweight than the pastoral children. Thus, the more acute and prolonged malnutrition was displayed more among the pastoral children than the agro-pastoral children. The childcare practices in both communities were varied mainly based on the maternal characteristics and the care resources and not so much the child characteristics. The factors that were significantly associated with malnutrition included: distance to the water sources, postnatal clinic attendance, immunization of children, family planning practices and the mother's age.