Influence of relief food aid on food security in Mutha Division, Mutomo District, Kenya
The purpose of the study was to investigate the influence of relief food aid on food security in Mutha Division of Mutomo District Eastern Province, Kenya. The specific objectives were to: establish the influence of government food policy on household's food security, determine factors influencing aid agencies in identifying needy households for relief food, establish how the quantity and quality of relief food aid influences household's food security and determine the influence of relief food aid on food security. Literature was reviewed according to the research questions on government food policy, food aid agencies needs identification, the quantity and quality of relief food aid and the influence of relief food aid on household's food security. The study adopted a case study design that was longitudinal in nature using a combination of different data collection methods like interviewing, observation and documentary analysis to increase reliability. Data regarding the households receiving relief food aid was collected in all households who were relief food aid beneficiaries. The target population was the heads of the 125 households receiving relief food aid and 15 officers of two relief food distribution agencies and 5 government officers who were involved in relief food distribution in Mutha Division. To collect data the instruments were administered through personal visit on appointment with the heads of households, government and food distribution agencies' officers. The interviews were conducted concurrently with observations. Document analysis was carried out at its own time during official visits to the officers. For analysis the data were categorized and reported in emergent themes. The findings were presented in percentages of verbatim quotations from responses with similar themes. In the study findings a gap was identified in critical agricultural food policy issues and its associated problems like household's food security, farm inputs, adoption of enhanced farm outputs' appropriate technologies and low levels of income. The researcher noted that in the long run these problems are yet to be tackled for all Kenyans in the hunger prone districts within the semi-arid and arid lands to be food secure. The household heads attested to the fact that sufficient relief food aid supplies would negatively but indirectly influence low farm food production which would lead to insufficient food production. While adequate relief food supplies could negatively affect agricultural food production and tum the beneficiaries into relief food aid dependants leading to food insecurity, insufficient relief food would encourage households to look for ways of getting the deficit food supplies hence enhancing food security. The researcher concluded that household's food security cannot be sustainably achieved by receiving relief food aid regardless of the prevailing food policy, peculiar factors of the relief food's deserving households and quantity of relief food issued as well as personal characterisation of the relief food aid beneficiaries. But sustainable food security could be obtained by enhancing own farm food production through adoption of improved, affordable and regional appropriate farming technologies. The researcher recommended that there was need for a well thought agricultural food policy if all households in dryland areas were to attain sustainable food security. The policy should encourage appropriate regional farming and food storage facilities so as to ensure h<!tsehold's food security throughout the year in both off-peak and on-peak harvest seasons. The researcher also recommended that to improve food security, there is need for improved and affordable technologies of dryland farming. The household's agricultural food development should be focused beyond enhancing farm outputs.