Differential factors between participants and non-participants in women groups and their relationship with nutritional status of children below the age of five years, in Msambweni location, Kwale district - Kenya
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This comparative study was carried out betwe-en· members and non members of women groups living in Msambweni Location, Kwale district. The aim of the study was to identify characteristics of mothers and households that distinguish women from both groups and establish their relationship with the nutritional status of children. Complementary data were collected on the particular determinants of nutritional status in the Digo conununity. Data were collected using structured questionnaires, key informant and focus group discussions, and anthropometry. Mothers were purposively categorized as either women groups members or non-members. Fifty mothers were randomly selected for each stratum. The nutritional status of 100 children from the two groups of mothers was also determined and compared. From a randomly selected community sample of 100 households, variables associated to the nutritional status of children under five years were determined. The results show combined variables that distinguish a member from a non-member of women groups. Mothers in women groups were mostly from monogamous families, their households spent more money on food and the index child was on average cede r than the one of non-members. The results also indicate that a significantly higher number of women groups households had radios, a better food score and smaller acreage of land. _It was also found that the level of unemployment was higher among members of WGs and they were 'visited fewer times by heaith workers. Thus, members of women groups seem to be of higher socia-economic status when compared to their counterparts. Nevertheless" high rate of stunting was a problem in both groups but children of non-members appeared to be worse off. High illiteracy, high unemployment, poor earnings from income generating activities, cultural practices and beliefs, poor farming. practices, inadequate nutrition .knowl.edqeand poor feeding patterns are some of the constraints towards proper child nutrition status. This implies- that differential characteristics of mothers in women groups do not have a strong impact on the nutritional status of their children. Hence, the nutritional status is mainly a function of characteristics common to both groups and the community. Intervention is needed to improve maternal child care and weaning practices, maternal income, family education and wealth. However any intervention strategy should be based on the specificity of each group for successful outcome.