Household Food Security and Nutrition Status of Children 6-59 Months among Smallholder Tea Farmers in Vihiga County, Kenya
Onchwari, Callen Kerubo
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Childhood malnutrition remains a major public health problem in developing countries. Appropriate, Infant and young child feeding practices at this stage is thus very critical for the growth, development, and survival of children. Household food insecurity which has strongly been associated with poor health of both adults and children remain prevalent in developing countries. This is so because food insecurity could affect the quantity and quality of food consumed by the household member. In children, Inappropriate care and feeding which could be influenced by household food insecurity are recognized as some of the underlying causes of under nutrition. Tea farming is common in Kenya and most of it is produced by smallholder farmers. Further, there is very minimal data currently on the food security status and nutrition status of under five children of small-scale tea farmers in Kenya. This study investigated the food security status and under-five nutrition status of smallholder tea farmers in Vihiga County, Kenya. The study will adopt a cross-sectional analytical study. A Multistage sampling technique was employed in this study and a sample of 310 was considered. In the first stage, Vihiga County was purposively selected while the respondents were randomly selected. Descriptive statistics such as frequencies and means, were used to describe the data while Inferential statistics such as Chi-Square, Correlations. Logistic regression was used to determine the predictors of the household food security and child nutrition status. Majority of people had 3 acres of land (45.5%) while (3.1%) had more than 6 acres of land. Cash crop took the highest portion of their land. Most children (49.0%) consumed four different food groups per day. The DDS was low (4.5 ± 2.1) with only about 15% meeting the minimum requirements for dietary diversity, meal frequency and acceptable diet while most households >90% took cereals, pulses, vegetables, sugar and fat. Most of the children are suffering from wasting. The GAM rate for stunting was 35.6% with 2.4% being severe while in wasting 8.6% were wasted with 0.7 being severely wasted and 16.8% were underweight with 0.7 being severe. Morbidity status indicate majority of the sick children having malaria (42.1%), followed by Cold (26.3%) and then diarrhea (21.1%). The production from tea was low (104.3 ± 24.7 kg while the income from tea was not reliable with a kg being paid at 18 KES, however most of the tea-based income was not used on accessing food. Most of the tea-based income was not used on accessing food. The production from tea was low (104.3 ± 24.7 kg while the income from tea was not reliable. Men controlled the tea income, and any other income, with a few drinking the proceeds. Consumption of cereals, pulses, vegetables and chicken were okay. However, the consumption of the others was low. The study recommends empowerment of women so that they make decisions on food production, income and use and further the review on tea pay policy to ensure payment that commensurate with input as well as more sensitization of mothers on more allocations of funds to food use of the available funds for a diversified health diet.