Food poverty profile among the settled and semi-settled pastoral households of lowland Marsabit: Evidence from micro data
This study sought to examine the seasonal food poverty levels and the contribution of livestock and market foods in attaining food security in the settled and semi-settled households of lowland Marsabit. This was necessary because households in this area and in other similar marginal areas have typically been left out in food poverty analysis studies, especially by the government. Where such studies are done, they are macro in focus, and deficient in evaluating the specific community needs. They also ignore food distribution at the household level and do not consider seasonal effects in household food acquisition. The study established that the level of food poverty is high among the settled and semi-settled households in lowland Marsabit. About 64 per cent of the settled households are food poor compared to 61 in the semi-settled households in the dry season. During the wet season, level of food poverty among the settled households fall slightly to 59 per cent while that of the semi-settled households goes down by almost half upto 34 per cent. The variation in food poverty levels is due to high milk supply, especially to the semi-settled households, during wet season. Although income, especially that of trade, plays a significant role in food security, its effect is mainly felt in the settled households, which have a small number of livestock holding. Also due to geographical isolation, the semi-settled households face problems of accessing market foods, which is why the relation between income and food expenditure cannot be easily traced. In conclusion, the study recommends micro policies aimed at incorporating the locals to alleviate food poverty. The study proposes a strategy of portfolio mix, adoption of the theory of comparative advantage and promotion of commodity exchange. If implemented appropriately, these will go along way in alleviating food poverty in ASALs.