Enhancement farming practices for improved household food and nutritonal security in Kamae, a peri-urban area-Nairobi
Njogu, Eunice Wambui
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Urban food insecurity has risen to alarming levels. Urban agriculture is proposed as an effective strategy to reduce urban poverty and enhance urban food security. Kenyan urban poverty is high. This has pushed the urban poor to agricultural activities. Households in Kamae in the peri-urban area of Nairobi, produced crops but they lacked diversity. They needed intervention to diversify their farming activities by producing diversity of crops and rearing small livestock. It is in this light that this study was designed. The household food security and farming practices were determined from June to July 2005 in baseline survey covering 300 households obtained through cluster sampling. An intervention to diversify the household farming practices was designed and implemented from October 2005 to February 2006 to enhance household food security in 30 out of the 300 households. Another survey in 180 households (30 participating and 150 nonparticipating) households was done at the end of the research from March 2006 to April 2006 to determine the impact of the intervention. Data were collected using interview schedules, observation checklists and focus group discussion guides. The quantitative data were analysed using (SPSS) Programme. Nutrients were analysed using NutriSurvey, (2004) while nutrition status data were analysed using EpiInfo, (2000). Pearson product moment (r) established relationships and tested the hypothesis at 0.05 significant levels. Cross tabulation and t-test were used to determine the changes in the households after intervention. The qualitative data were organized into themes for interpretation. The results indicated improvement in social economic status, in farming practices and in food consumption. There were 13(43.3%) women without occupations before intervention, but they started farming, selling vegetables and did casual jobs after intervention. Participating households increased diversity of crops they produced from no crops to diversity of crops and they all started rearing small livestock. The mean caloric, vitamin A and iron intakes for all children in all age groups in the 300 households in baseline survey were below the RDAs. However, the mean protein intakes for the children in all age groups were above the RDAs. Consumption of calories, proteins, vitamin A and iron increased in all the 30 households. Those whose caloric intakes were below the RDAs decreased from 23(76.7%) before intervention to 20(66.7%) after intervention. Protein intake that was below RDAs decreased from 17(56.7%) to 12(40%), vitamin A intakes from 22(73.3%) to 18(60%) and iron intake from 29(96.7%) to 25(83.3%) before and after intervention, respectively. These improvements in consumption are attributed to the activities of the intervention of producing a diversity of crops and rearing of small livestock. The findings of the baseline survey showed that 62% of the children were stunted, 53.7% were underweight and 31% were wasted. T-test showed significant difference in iron intake before and after intervention t=2.715 and P= 0.009. There were positive relationships between nutrition knowledge and caloric r=0.040 p=0.494, protein r=0.055 p=0.341, vitamin A r=0.123 p=0.034 and iron r=0.052 p=0.372 intake. There was also a positive and significant relationship between crop diversity and dietary diversity r =0.123 and p =0.034. This shows that increase in food production and nutrition knowledge increased household food consumption. This project impacted positively on the community members by increasing access to more food. This improved their household food consumption by providing them with diversified diets that enhanced their household food and nutrition security. It is recommended that production of diversity of crops and rearing of small livestock be promoted in the available urban and peri-urban garden spaces. These gardens form a sustainable food based strategy to prevent malnutrition in the urban and peri-urban areas.