Factors influencing household food security among the pastoral communities: the case of Pokot North District in Kenya
Micheni, Valerian S
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The main objective of the study was to establish factors that affect household food security in pastoral communities of Pokot North district in Kenya. The specific objectives looked at identifying the influence of environmental factors on household food availability, determine the extent to which insecurity influenced household food security, establish how cultural beliefs, taboos and accessibility to markets affected household food security at the household level in Pokot North District. In research methodology, descriptive research design was used to look at the variables being studied. The population targeted was pastoral household in Pokot North District, who were identified by use of both purposive sampling and random sampling at the household level. Data was collected by use of questionnaires which were administered in the field to the sampled respondents. A total of 247 households were sampled from a target population of 2470 households. Three key informants were also interviewed from the locations, making a total of 250 respondents. Data was analyzed by use of Statistical Package for Social Scientists and Microsoft Excel and presented using frequency tables, graphs and charts. The findings of the research were that Insecurity was one of the major contributing factors to food insecurity in the households. This is because it largely affected the livelihood economic systems which included livestock keeping and these were critical to food security. Market disruptions as a result of conflict and insecurity also largely affected availability of food at the households. Drought was also singled as significant environmental factor, which lead to livestock deaths, and this together with poor livelihood diversification worsened food availability and access. Cultural beliefs and low literacy levels were seen as significant contributing factors affecting utilization of food among the households, possibly leading to food insecurity. It is therefore recommended that government agencies mandated with security should ensure these areas are secure so as to reduce vulnerability of general population. Disruptions of markets can also be reduced by improving infrastructure in these areas as well as maintaining peace. Capacity building and increased information is also necessary to improve on livelihood diversification and educate the general population on proper nutrition and dietary issues.