Actors’ Perceptions of Health Risks and Effects Related to Food System Activities in North West Mt. Kenya Region
Ogolla, Antony, F
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Food production through agricultural practices is essential for the survival of humanity in the entire world. It plays a great role on whether there is enough food for human consumption, if the food available is of sufficient nutritional value, and if the food is safe, all of which at the end has an effect on the health and wellbeing of humans. The study was conducted in North-West Mt. Kenya region and specifically in the sub-counties of Laikipia East and Buuri which fall in the Laikipia and Meru counties of Kenya. In the study, a conceptual framework based on the environmental epidemiology theory was used to uncover associations between health risk factors and human disease like cholera, dysentery which are due to poor food handling with a view to bring out the casual link between the two. The framework shows linkages between, institutional and legal frameworks, food system actors, food system activities, health risks and the environmental outcomes. It focused on food producers, food retailers and food consumers as the food system actors with a view of getting their perception on the human health risks and their effects on the food system activities. The study employed qualitative and quantitative approaches to collect and analyse data. Questionnaires, interview schedules, observations and photography were used in data collection. The study used stratified random sampling. In the sampling procedure, the actors were stratified in four sections: the household; the farm managers; the farm workers; and the retailers. The data that was collected was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 23 software. The study generally aimed at finding out how various actors within the food system perceive health risks related to food system activities and how their perceptions affected the food system. This general objective was further broken down to three specific objectives which were: To determine the actors‘ health risk concerns that influence the food system, to find out how the perceptions of health risks by the actors influence the food system and to find out how the activities in the food system affect human health. The study established that a big number of the actors including their family members had never suffered from any illness related to food consumption. It thus means that the food produced is safe for human consumption. The study established that the perceptions of health risks by the actors have an influence in the food system in a number of ways such as the rating of food handling from farm to the point of consumption by the actors was poor. The study established that there were enough measures at household level to reduce food contaminations. Actors at the household level indicated that they were ensuring food is totally dry before storing, putting chemicals for preservation among other measures. There were other general observations from the actors as well some of which include current low production due to inadequate rainfall; some crops such as potatoes and cabbages doing better as compared to others like maize; over reliance on rain fed agriculture; dependent on the season; food is not enough to last the whole year, potatoes are affected by earthworms thus reducing their productivity. The study too undoubtedly disapproved that working as a farmer affected the actors‘ health status.
University of Nairobi
SubjectActors’ Perceptions of Health Risks and Effects Related to Food System Activities in North West Mt. Kenya Region
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