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African Crop Science Conference Proceedings, Vol. 7. pp. 867-873 Printed in Uganda.

All rights reserved ISSN 1023-070X/2005 $ 4.00 2005, African Crop Science Society

Food security status of households in Mwingi District, Kenya

E. KALOI, B. TAYEBWA & B. BASHAASHA Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, Makerere University, P.O.Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda Abstract Kenyas current food supply situation and outlook is a cause for concern. Fifteen million (approx. 50 %) of Kenyans are food insecure with 3 million in constant need of food relief. Despite the increasing global concern of improving food security, the nature and extent of food insecurity in the rural areas of Kenya is not well documented. This study was carried out in Mwingi District, in the eastern province of Kenya. One hundred twenty five (125) households were involved in the study. The goal of the study was to assess the household food security status in the Food for Work (FfW) program area in Mwingi district. Household food security was measured using daily household calorie acquisition.The study established that 62 % of the sampled population was food secure, the rest were not food insecure. Significant determinants of food security in the area were, participation in the FfW program, household size, the on- farm income, marital status of the household head and their education level. Key words: Food supply, Kenya, Mwingi district Rsum La vision de loin de la situation actuelle dapprovisionnement alimentaire du Kenya est une cause de la proccupation. Cinquante millions [ peu prs 50%] de Kenyans sont dans linscurit alimentaire avec 3 millions de Kenyans en besoin constant des nourritures. Malgr laugmentation de la proccupation sur le plan mondial propos de la scurit alimentaire, la nature et le degr de scurit alimentaire dans les milieux ruraux du Kenya nest pas bien document. Cette tude tait conduite dans le District de Mwingi dams la Province de lest du Kenya. Cent vingt cinq [125] mnages taient impliques dams cette tude. Le but de ltude tait de dcides sur le statut alimentaire des mnages dans le programme alimentaire pour le travail dans le District de Mwingi. La scurit alimentaire de mnage tait mesure en utilisant lacquisition en calorie journalire par foyer. Ltude a tablie que 62% de la population chantillonne tait scurise sur le plan alimentaire, le reste ne ltait pas. Les points importants dterminant la scurit alimentaire dans le milieu taient la participation dans le programme aliment pour nourriture, la grandeur du mnage, le revenu des champs, le statut de lhomme grant le mnage et son niveau dducation. Mots cls: Approvisionnement en nourriture, Kenya, district Mwingi

The long rains in Kenya (March-May), which normally accounts for 80 % of total annual food production, has been failing over the years leading to severe drought, and widespread crop failures and large livestock losses in the pastoral areas of the north, northeast and northwest. Maize which is the main staple food of Kenya averages over 80 percent of total cereals and 41 percent of the daily calorie intake. There has been a cross border trade in maize and beans among the East African countries which is, influenced by localized national demands and rising or falling market prices. The apparent delayed harvests of the 2004 short- cycle crops coupled with previous national deficit in Kenya have kept maize prices in the country rising and much higher than neighboring Tanzania and Uganda. Prices of maize in June 2004 in Nairobi were 95 percent and 39 percent higher than Dar es Salaam and Kampala , respectively . This is a good indicator of the food situation in the country. It has continued to attract cross border maize imports into Kenya to the magnitude of 10,000 MT per month. The increasing prices are seriously hurting the poorer sections of the Kenyan population whose access to food is increasingly being curtailed. (Great Horn of Africa Food Security Bulletin, June 2004; http://www.apps.fao.org). The emphasis of Non Governmental Organizations

(NGOs) on the most vulnerable groups on experience gained over the years, that they are less able than urban dwellers to attract the attention of national level policy makers and service providers in times of need. In the implementation of food aid Programmes, NGOs have paid special attention to those most at risk such as rural women, children under 10 years of age and some attending school, peasant farmers, urban slum dwellers, and pastoralists (Aguko, 1998). The German Technical Assistance (GTZ) through the Intergrated Food Security Programme (IFSP) launched a Food Aid Programme (FfW) in 1994 in Mwingi district in Eastern Kenya. Food for Work in the context of IFSP is used as an instrument in development cooperation to counteract severe food stress within the Programme area. These food assistance programs are targeted to those with the greatest economic or social need in the community. In the current study, those who participated in the program are referred to as participants and those who did not participate are referred to as non-participants. The FfW intervention objectives in Mwingi district were, to improve the accessibility to food and counteract malnourishment in the targeted household and communities, to ensure that community based development projects continue being implemented despite the food stress situation, to support the improvement of rural community infrastructure areas and to mitigate


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negative coping strategies such as school drop outs, emigration and the sale of productive assets (such as livestock) for the purchase of essential foodstuff. Mellor et al. (1987) emphasise dependence of useful policy prescription on accurate information which is largely missing in Africa. Most observers of sub-Saharan Africa such as Barrett and Arcese (1998), Barrett (1999) agree that food policy analysis is often formulated on an inadequate base of knowledge about a countrys food situation. It ought to be axiomatic that food security planning must begin with an analysis of who is food insecure and why: only by combining classification of food insecurity with an analysis of why it occurs can appropriate interventions be planned and their effects predicted. Despite the surge of interest in food security, especially in Sub- Saharan Africa, these issues of description and analysis remain neglected (Maxwell, 1989). It is important to note that aggregate figures tell only one level of the story as they mask variations at the individual and household levels. The goal of the study was to assess the food security status of households in a Food for Work programme area of Mwingi district. The specific objectives were to: Characterise the food security status of households in the FfW Programme area of Mwingi district in Eastern Kenya. Identify and document the major factors influencing food security in the district.

the semi-arid areas of Eastern Kenya like Mwingi district. The food-security situation has been made more precarious by the effects of reduced subsidies to agricultural, educational and health services, implemented as part of Kenyas structural adjustment programme (Sutherlanda et al., 1999; Kinyua, 2004). Sample size. Out of the nine administrative divisions of Mwingi district, Migwani was purposively selected because it has the highest population density of 101 persons per km2 as compared to the other divisions in the district as well as the national average of 56 people per km2 (Central Bureau of Statistics, 2004). A list of all participating villages was made and five villages were randomly chosen. At village level, a sampling frame was developed from which 125 households were selected randomly. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected. Primary data related to household food security and demographic characteristics were collected using a structured questionnaire. Household calorie acquisition. To achieve the first objective of this study, household food security was measured using daily household calorie acquisition. Data were collected for a period of three days and the average daily kilocalories available for each household computed. To assess if a household was food insecure the daily available calories daily for consumption in the household were compared against 80% (Reardon, 1989; Shirley and Weber, 1992) of the recommended daily nutritional requirements for the entire household, adjusted for age and gender composition (adequacy level) (WHO, 1985). Regression analysis. Regression analysis was used to estimate relationships among several socio-economic variables. Changes in the dependent variable are explained by reference to changes in the explanatory variables. In the current study, the influences of both socio-economic and socio-demographic factors on food security were quantified using both Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) and Generalized Least Square (GLS). This was done by estimating the slope coefficients. The ratio between available kilocalories for the whole household per day and the recommended kilocalories for the whole household was used as the dependent variable. Multiple regression analysis has been applied by a number of other researchers in food security studies such as Hoddinott and Yisehac (2002) and Frongillo and Jung Lee (2001) among others. These studies have demonstrated a satisfactory performance of the methodology. In the present study, the Multiple Regression Model was specified as follows:

Materials and methods

Study area. This study was conducted in Mwingi district located in the Eastern province of Kenya. The district was purposively chosen because it is one of the districts that benefited from Food for Work Programme by GTZ between 1994 and 2002, which is still ongoing with government support. The main land use in the district is crop and livestock husbandry. The district has nine administrative divisions and subdivided into 38 locations, 125 sublocations and 1,100 villages. The rainfall pattern is bimodal but erratic, and unreliable averaging ~ 500 mm and 700 mm per annum. This unreliability makes the district a disaster (drought) prone area. The shortness of the seasons and unreliability of rainfall makes crop failure an endemic feature, particularly for households growing the drought intolerant crops such as maize and beans. Production is more reliable for households growing resilient crops such as millet, sorghum, green grams and cowpeas, but the pressure to sell these food crops in order to generate household income needs is great and leaves many households vulnerable. Traders living in the adjacent higher agricultural potential areas purchase the small grains and pulses in the semi-arid areas, mainly just after harvest when they are cheap. When food stocks are low, there is very limited scope to get cheaper food. The main maize-producing areas in the West of Kenya are far away, and high transportation and transaction costs make maize relatively expensive in

+ 1 Part+ 2 Gender+ 3 Onf + 4 Ln_Dis + 5 Educ + 6 Sqrtha+ 7 hhszsqd+ 8 Agesqd + 9 Sqrtlabour + 10 offinco + 11 Marital status +
Y= Where: Y is the ratio of the available kilocalories for the whole household per day to the recommended daily kilocalories for the whole household.

Assessing the food security status of households



s Part

= intercept = Parameters to be estimated

average comprised of 8 members. The figure is close to the IFSP planning figure of seven household members. The mean difference in household size between the participants (7.8) and non-participants (7.7) was not statistically different. Household food security status. Sixty two percent of the households were found to be food secure while 38% were food insecure in Mwingi District. This was not very different from the USAID FEWS NET 2003 report, which indicated that more than 30% of the population in the area was food insecure. The percentage of food secure non- participants (70.1%) was larger than the percentage of food insecure (29.9%). The same applies to participants, 60.9% food secure and 39.4% food insecure. Econometric results. The econometric results using both OLS (Table 1) and GLS (not shown) were almost similar indicating that the homoscedasticity assumption was not violated. The OLS estimates indicated that the model explained 30.9% of variation in food security in the study area. The F-Value was 4.33 indicating that the model was significant at 1%. Five variables; participation in the FfW program, household size squared, on-farm income per year, marital status and the education level of the household head were highly significant (P=0.01). For the GLS results, the adjusted R2 was 29% and the significant variables were participation in the FfW program (P<0.05), household size (p<0.01), distance to the market (P<0.1) and education of the household head (P<0.1). The marital status and on-farm income were not significant although the signs suggest that they had the same impact on food security as in the OLS estimation and hence, the OLS results are reported and discussed. Participation in FfW program was significant at (P<0.05) with a positive coefficient of 0.219 implying that participation in the programme increased food security by 0.219 Kilocalories per household per day. Household size was statistically significant at (P<0.01) and had a negative coefficient of 0.00291, which implies that for every increase in an individual in a household, food security decreases by 0.00291 kilocalories per day. Larger household size has a negative impact on calorie availability. This, in fact, one of the arguments against rapid population growth and the resultant large family sizes (Degefa, 2001, Kumar, 1994), though the impact is very small in the current study. A study by Kraybill and Bashaasha (2005) using 9,710 households from the 2002/ 03 Uganda National Household Survey also found a strong negative relationship between family size and household carolic consumption per adult equivalent. In a Rhodes Island study by Sonya and Helen (2003), households with 5 or more members were more likely to be food insecure compared to households with less than 5 members. Thirty eight percent of the households with 5 or more members were food insecure compared to 21.6% of households with 1-2 members and 25.0% of households with 3-4 members (P<.05).

= One (1) for participants of FfW and zero if otherwise (dummy) Gender = Gender of household head (1 if head is male and 0 otherwise) (dummy) Onf = On-farm income (in Kenya Shillings per household per year). Ln_Dis = Log of distance to the nearest Market (Kilometers). Educ = Household head Level of education in years (Number of years of schooling). Sqrtha = Square root of cultivated land in hectares. hhszsqd = Size of household squared (number of people). Agesqd = squared age of the household head in years Sqrtlabour = square root of the amount of labour available in the farms for the household per year (person days). offinco = One (1) If household head gets off-farm income and zero(0) if otherwise. (dummy) Marital status=Marital status of the household head (1 if head is married and 0 otherwise). (dummy) = Error term The data obtained were analysed for outliers and points of high leverage, which were eliminated using studentized residual as implemented in Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) software. After elimination, only 116 households out of 125 remained. Descriptive statistics such as frequencies, percentages and means were then computed to characterise the food security situation in the study area.

Results and disscussion

Descriptive statistics. Socio-demographic characteristics that were considered included the gender, age, number of years in formal education of the household head and the household size. Of the 116 sampled households, 73.3 % were participants in the programme while 26.7% were nonparticipants. Some of the non-participants were willing to join the food for work program but were busy elsewhere. The number of years in school for the household head ranged between 0 and 12 years with an average of 7 years. The mean of years spent in formal education was not significant with 7.1 years for participants and 8.5 years for non-participants. Non-project participants were more educated than the participants. The age of the household head varied from 17 years to 90 years with most household heads ranging between 35 to 55 years whereas the mean age was 48 years. On average, participants were older (49 yrs) as compared to the non- participant (39 yrs). The mean difference in age of the household head was not statistically significant. The survey also revealed that 74.2 % of the responding households were male-headed while 25.8% were female headed. The households on


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The household on-farm income was significant at (P< 0.1) with a negative and negligible coefficient of 9.31 x 10-6. This implies that on-farm income had no effect on food security of the household. Some studies have shown that in addition to control of income, the source and type of household income influences consumption patterns and nutrition (Pinstrup-Andersen, 1987). There is strong evidence to suggest that real income, in form of food from own production, contributes more to food consumption than an equal amount of cash income (Kabutha, 1999). Staatz et al. (1988) while measured household versus individual food security in Mali and observed that for households where women sold a greater part of the products from their individual fields, children were more likely to be wasted. A possible explanation is that those who retain their own production for home consumption increased diversity and amount of food available for consumption thus contributing to food security. Sales of own production render the household more vulnerable to consumption and nutritional deficiencies. Marital status of the household head was significant at (P< 0.1) with a positive but very small coefficient of 0.00317 indicating that married couples were likely to be more food secure than single headed households. In a study in Rhodes Island, the results showed that there was a significant difference in food security status among the marital status categories. In general, 17.5% of married households were food insecure compared to 30.8% of unmarried households (P<0.002). The percentage of nonmarried households that were food insecure are 29.7% (single), 25% (widowed) and 39% (divorced/separated) (P<0.005), (Department of Health, Division of Family Health, Rhode Island, 2001). This could be because food stamps and other forms of assistance is provided mainly to single headed households in the U.S.A. Education of the household head was significant at (P<0.05) and had a positive coefficient of 0.03 implying each yearly an increase in formal education increased food security by 0.03. In the assessment of prevalence of hunger and food security in Rhode Island, of the 101 households where the head had < 12th grade education, 39 (38.6%) were food insecure. Of the 159 households where
Table 1. Determinants of Household Food Security in Mwingi District. Variable Dependent Variable: LN_Ratio Unstandardised coefficients B (Constant) Gender of hh Part Agesqd Offinco Hhszsqd Sqrtha Onf Ln_dis Marital status of hh Educ Sqrt of labour -4.024 9.324E-02 .219 2.110E-05 .141 -2.914E-03 1.599E-03 -9.306E-06 -.168 3.170E-02 2.831E-02 1.310E-02 t -2.932 .966 -2.091 .670 1.609 -3.609 .020 -1.944 -1.630 1.877 2.093 .610

the head had graduated from high school, 40 (25.2%) were food insecure. Of the 130 households where the head had > 12th grade education, 19 (14.6%) were food insecure (P<0.001), (Department of Health, Division of Family Health, Rhode Island, 2001). The basic premise here is that educated farmers are more likely to adopt new technology and farm practices, which in turn enhances agricultural productivity. In the study on environmental and socio-economic causes of transitory food insecurity among farm household in Oromiya zone, Ethiopia, results show that the amount of food consumption was relatively higher for literate heads compared to their illiterate counterparts and higher for those who attended primary school than for those who attended literacy education, (Degefa, 2001). The results show a positive relationship between acreage under cultivation and food security though this was not statistically significant. When more land is brought under cultivation, holding other factors constant, more production is expected, leading to more food security (Eunice et al., 2000). Much of the food consumed in rural households in Kenya is obtained from the farm and very little, is purchased from the market. Therefore, the food security status in any household is mainly dictated by what can be obtained from the farm (Kiriro, 2003). Given the lack of improved technology on the farms and depending on the vagaries of weather, the harvest is not always predictable. In a survey by Bahiigwa (1999), 95% of households surveyed ranked own production as the main source of household food consumption. The market was ranked second (80%) to own production as a source of food for the households. Distance to market was not significant and had a negative coefficient, implying that as distance to the market increases, food security decreases. This finding is in agreement with Hoddinott (1999) who reported that households in remote villages faced higher food prices and had less access to a variety of foods. This study shows that the gender of the household read whether (male or female-headed) does not significantly affect in food security status. However, male headed households tend to be more food secure than the

Collinearity statistics Sig .004 .337 .040 .505 .112 .001 .984 .055 .107 .064 .040 .544 Tolerance VIF

.749 .781 .597 .759 .707 .815 .754 .933 .946 .494 .687

1.336 1.280 1.676 1.318 1.415 1.227 1.326 1.071 1.057 2.025 1.455

Assessing the food security status of households


female headed households. In Ethiopia, it is apparent that the gender of the household head strongly influences household livelihood and food security. In female-headed households the households per capita calorie intake from crops (697 cal) was found to be extremely low, less than half of the mean for the male-headed households (1415 cal) (Degefa, 2001, Kumar, 1994). In contrast, within gender comparison, Bahiigwa (1999) observed that female-headed household were more food secure than male-headed households. In the first period of his research, 58% of female headed households were food secure compared to 52% male headed households. In the second period, 72% of the female headed households were more food secure compared to 59% of male headed households in accessing food in two seasons. Off farm income was not significant in influencing food security though it had a positive sign indicating that involvement in off-farm income activities enhances food security by enhancing household purchasing power. Low incomes in developing countries have been ascribed for perpetuating food inaccessibility, especially of the poor. Household income could be improved upon by off-farm occupations (Reardon, 1989). Similar findings were reported by Kumar, 1994). Kenyans are vulnerable to food insecurity not because they do not produce enough but because they hold little in reserves. They often have scanty savings and few other sources of income (Adebayo, 2004). Prior to 1987, calorie-income elasticity for low-income populations throughout the developing world was estimated to be between 0.4 and 0.8 (Boius and Haddad, 1992). Thus, income increases for the poor as a food policy strategy have received strong justification in that it is expected to reduce food insecurity (Alderman, 1986). In this study, labour per acre was not significant but had a positive sign indicating that with more labour available, food security increased, holding other factors constant. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (2002), suggest that the degree of food security depends on prices as well as labour available and income. Although increased agricultural productivity usually leads to higher incomes and better food security among households that have access to modern inputs and methods, the food security of households that continue to use lessproductive methods depends largely on the degree to which production expansion drives down food prices and on how much food they sell rather than buy. Small-scale farmers often consume a share of their own produce, but it is increasingly rare for household food needs to be met entirely by subsistence production. The age of the household head was not significant although it had a positive sign. The older the household head the more food secure the household was likely to be. This can be associated with asset ownership and getting of support from their children. The higher the age of the head, the more stable the economy of the farm household. Older people have also relatively richer experiences of the social and physical environments. Moreover, older heads are expected to have better access to land than the younger heads (Degefa, 2001). Jean et al. (2002) assessed the effects of both the linear and quadratic age terms and in their

analysis, the results showed that food insecurity increases until age 35 and then steadily decreases as the household head becomes older Qi (1999) reported similar findings in which households with heads over 60 years old reporting less food insecurity than younger households. Other studies have made similar reports on household food security (Bickel et al., 1999; Andrews et al., 2000; Nord et al., 2002).

The study has relevant policy implications, not only for the study area but the nation as a whole. These can best be viewed against the background of on-going programs geared towards food security. In order to sharpen some of these policy options some recommendations are advanced here to guide researchers as well as policy makers. In this study, there is strong evidence that participation in FfW program, the household size, on-farm income, marital status of the household head and education of household head significantly influence household food security. The inverse relationship between household size and on-farm income in relation to food security underscores the need to encourage emphasis on family planning to have smaller families and the importance of off-farm income generating opportunities. Number of formal education of household heads participating in FfW and marital status enhanced food security. It is, thus important to create awareness on the importance of education at higher levels to make higher education more affordable to a larger population. It is recommended that to improve food security, there is a need for improved, appropriate and affordable technologies. One of the challenges facing Kenya, and increasingly for many countries in sub Saharan Africa, is how to expand both on- and off-farm income for people living in rural areas. Agricultural technology development for these households will need to focus beyond yield enhancement and address other features that complement the households need to allocate labour to other off-farm employment activities. The issue of improving access to markets is critical especially through massive investments in rural infrastructure including roads, rails, and bridges. In such cases the households will be able to sell whatever surpluses they produce as well as being able to access a variety of food easily at a lower cost. Concerning gender, male-headed households were more food secure as compared to female- headed households. It may be possible to improve food security if policies are developed which target womens emancipation to have more income and improved agricultural production so as to fill this gender related food insecurity gap. Food for Work is an effective short run mechanism for preventing famine and providing food aid during the drought period, it is recommended that it be replicated in other food insecure areas paying attention to the issues pertaining to the local situation. However, the critical


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policy issues and problems like food insecurity and poverty in the long run are yet to be tackled for all Kenyans.

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