The influence of women's activities on infant and childhood mortality in Embu District: a case study of two sub-locations
The first task of this study was to examine mortality differentials in Embu district by Divisions. It then looks at the influence of women groups activities on infant and childhood mortality In Embu district using data collected from Karurumo and Kigumo sub-locations in Runyen,ies division of Embu district. For the mortality differentials. 1979 Kenya DODulation census data was used and the differentials were evaluated according to maternal education. marital status, and Dlace of residence. The primary data was collected from two sub-locations namely Karurumo and Kigumo of Kyeni south location of Embu District. This study was designed to ascertain whether the activities carried out by women have an impact on infant and child mortality. The focus was on women belonging to a womens' group aged between 15-49 years. A total of four hundred (400) women were interviewed. two hundred from each sub-location. Out of a total population of 546 households. 400 households were chosen and from everv household only one eligible woman was interviewed. In this study multi-stage cluster sampling was used as a sampling design . ...._ The hypotheses adopted in this study were meant to show the relationship between womens' activities and infant and child mortality. For example hypotheses that state that (Education is negatively related to infant and child mortality' or (duration the respondent has been in the group is negatively related to infant and child mortality' were tested. The influence of womens' activities on infant and childh mortality lS given by adopting: variables which come as a result of women being involved in the g:roup. e.g If women benefit in formal or informal education during the group activities, does this education benefit influence the infant and childhood mortality of this woman. Using Brass-Trussell method to analyze the 1979 census data, mortality differentials were'calculated while data collected from the field was analyzed by descriptive statistics (frequencies and percentages) and regression model based on Preston-Trussell approach~ The findings of this study have confirmed that major infant and child mortality differentials among various divisions of Embu district maybe explained in the context of socio-economic status of the women with Siakago division having the lowest infant and child mortality, followed by Runyen,ies and finally Gachoka division. The descriptive statis-tics have shown that SOClo-economlC characteristics of women may vary from one sub-location to another and so may the trend of infant and child mortality. The growth monitoring and promotion prog:ramme which takes place only in Karurumo sub-locati~ may have a positive influence on child survival over the time. Majoritv of the respondents indicated that the Growth monitoring and promotion programme has a positive influence on the health of their children. Multivariate regression analysis has shown that there is a marked relationship between the ratio of observed to exnected deaths of children (mortality index) and the duration a woman stays in a womens' group. The significance of this relationship can be understood in the sense that, the more a mother stays in a womens' group the more she l5 1ikely to benefit. for a longer period of time. Some of the group benefits such as frequencv of receiving money, health and agricultural education benefits, and groups' influence on the health of children all showed a marked relationship with infant and childhood mortality. are discussed in the contents. Other findings The implications of the findings of this study to the policy making process lS that education of mothers, whether formal or informal is crucial in reducing the levels of infant and child mortality. From the analysis of the secondary data. levels of infant and child mortality reduce according to the level of education, that is. infant mortality for mothers with secondary+ education 1S lower than those with either primary education or no education at all. Similary, from tEe analysis of the primary data, benefits of health and agicultural education gained by women from the group act reduce infant and child mortality. Therefore policy makers should consider maJor improvements in maintaining and promoting the educat...l.o,fQ.wnomen. Women groups need to be fully considered ln the policy making process, policies affecting women need to be clearlv stipulated. those unregistered groups need assistance to register since it is important for the government to have an updated record of the number of functional women groups existing and the current membership. planning. This will help in better Women groups should be used to disseminate vital information such as health, agricultural, contraception and family planning education since more women are likely to benefit from ideas shared ln the group. It can therefore be concluded that, women groups' activities to a large extent reduce infant and childhood mortality. I-t :1 s also apparent from this study that socio-economic status of the mother, and some demographic variables such as age of the mother influences the level of infant and childhood mortality.