Gender segregated perceptions and behavior on benefits and selected health risks associated with urban dairy farming in Dagoretti division, Nairobi
There is a tremendous increase in urban growth especially in developing countries and with this, demand for food in urban areas is also increasing. Urban dairy farming has emerged as a response to increasing food demand in urban areas, to address rising unemployment rates, to increase purchasing power and income levels in the households. However, apart from providing benefits, urban dairy can be a source of health risks to the human population due to the presence of potential zoonotic diseases and other health hazards. This is especially as a result of high concentration of people in urban areas and close contact of the farmers and animals necessitated by limited space and other social causes such as protection from cattle theft. This study's main objective was to determine the knowledge, perceptions and behavior, of male and female dairy farmers towards benefits and health risks associated with urban dairy farming. This was addressed to allow for better understanding of risk of exposure to health hazards and lead to recommendations of intervention strategies be promoted to lower health risks in urban dairy farming while maintaining the benefits. The study was pari. 01a wider study entitled "characterization and assessment ot benetits and health risks associated with urban smallholder dairy production" conducted on smallholder dairy farmers and their immediate non-dairy keeping neighbors in Dagoretti division Nairobi. The health risks addressed here include Brucellosis, Bovine Tuberculosis, Cryptosporidiosis and E.coli H7:0157, which are zoonotic diseases. It was a descriptive cross sectional study with a participatory interactive gender segregated approach. Qualitative data was collected through Participatory Urban Appraisal while quantitative data was collected by administration of a semi-structured questionnaire to a random sample 290 dairy farming households and 136 non-dairy keeping neighbor households. Dairy farming households were selected from a sample frame of 920 households identified in the study area while neighbor households were sampled purposefully on site. These were the immediate neighbors of the dairy farmers who don't keep dairy animals and their inclusion was important, as they are likely to perceive benefits and experience health risks associated with urban dairy farming due to their proximity to the dairy farmers. Qualitative data was analyzed in themes related to the studyobjectives and quantitative data summarized into descriptive statistics and chisquaretest applied for relationships where applicable. Thoseinterviewed were 180 females, 110 males for dairy farmers and 97 females, 39 malesfor neighbors. Dairy farming male-headed households were 73% and 27% femaleheaded.Forthe neighbors, it was 81% male-headed and 19% female-headed households. The results show the knowledge level of the community members on the zoonotic diseaseswas low. Though more males than females knew of the zoonotic diseases, this differencewas not significant. Respondents cited more of other health risks such as pollution and odor from poor manure disposal. Less than half of the dairy farmer respondents perceived they were at risk of exposure to the health hazards (30% of femalesand 29% of males) while 68% of males and 60% of females perceived they could protect themselves from health hazards. The knowledge level of the health risks significantlyinfluenced the perceptions. However, dairy farming in this urban community isseen as an income generating activity, providing employment and food security to a greatextent. On behavior t, most households could be exposing themselves to hp lth to hazardsespecially BTB due to staying very close to the animals (83% of FHH and 74% ofMHH). Also by letting cattle waste accumulate in the sheds without cleaning regularly and by not wearing protective clothing while handling cattle waste, they could be exposingthemselves to health hazards such as Cryptosporidiosis and E.coli 0157:H7. Thewoman of the household and the male worker are the ones at highest risk of exposure tothe health hazards as they are the ones in most contact with the cow and cattle waste. Thoughwomen and men had equal access of resources and benefits associated with dairy farming, the men had more control. Women were also heavily burdened since were responsible for other numerous household duties, unlike the men. Adequate knowledge on potential health risks associated with urban dairy farming, proper hygienic practices, improved sanitation and good husbandry are recognized as the best mitigative strategies against transmission of these diseases. This study also recommends a wider study to ascertain the prevalence of zoonotic diseases in humans in urban areas, enhancement of disease reporting system in the country and better collaboration between veterinarians and human health providers in presence of zoonoses.