The contribution of urban Household Food production to consumption, Nutrient intake, and expenditure patterns among Urban Poor in Kiambiu Slums, Nairobi
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With rapid urban growth rates, a diminishing ability of many developing countries to feed the increasing national populations, persistent droughts, escalating food prices and increase in poverty, urban agriculture is increasingly becoming a food security strategy both at national and household levels. The extent, nature, and role of urban agriculture in Africa vary considerably within and between countries as well as throughout the urban hierarchy. In August - September 2002, a comparative cross-sectional survey aimed at assessing and comparing the contribution of urban household food production to household food consumption and expenditure patterns among the urban poor in Kiambiu slums, Nairobi was carried out. The principal tool of investigation was a structured pretested questionnaire that was administered to the principal homemaker; it included 24hr-recall and food frequency as methods of dietary assessment. The sampling involved a combination of cluster, purposive and random giving a sample size of 221 households with 93 households practising urban agriculture and 128 households not engaged in urban agriculture. A subsample of 60 households was randomly selected for the-24 hour dietary recall. The data were collected with the assistance of four trained field assistants and the SPSSIPC+ computer package was used for the data entry and analysis. The results showed that the general food security was better in farming households than non-farmers. The study established that there was a significant difference in the expenditure patterns of the two groups, with the urban farming households having significantly lower food budget than the non-farming households (p value=O.OOl; X2 =11.2). Own food production contributed 20-30% or more of the households' food supply. In this study, home-cultivation supplied the equivalent of 17% of their income and saved approximately KShs 3,850 of their expenditure in food per month. The mean availability of calories at the household level for the entire sample was 2,071 kilocalories (69%) per consumer unit (male adult equivalent) per day (kcallcu/day). The average caloric intake for the two groups respectively, was less than 75% of the estimated requirements. Maize and other staples contributed most of the calories, but the urban farming households had a slightly more varied diet than the non-farming households. Own food production provided on average an estimated 10% extra calories.· In conclusion, home-cultivated foods contributed significantly to nutrient availability and accessibility in the households and reduced the expenditure on food. It is therefore recommended that urban agriculture be integrated in national policy strategy in overall poverty reduction and specifically addressing vulnerability and poverty in urban areas.