Shaping the Future of African Agriculture for Development: The Role of Social Scientists
Otieno, David Jakinda
Marenya, Paswel Phiri
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Food security remains a key challenge to the development efforts of most poor nations. This study investigated the significance of gender (denoted by number of male, female and children in a household) and social amenities in the food security equation. Frequency of food-related illnesses in a household was used as proxy for food security situation, while the entitlement/food utilization side of the equation was represented by the number of male and female children in the household, main source of domestic water, distance to nearest health center, means of transport accessible, household sanitation and level of awareness on basic food preparation and handling methods. Both descriptive and econometric models were used for analysis of primary data from a random sample of 100 farm-households in Yala division, Siaya district of Kenya. This study was conducted in February 2004. Results of this study indicated that majority (74%) of the rural households were experiencing poor food utilization, and were thus generally food insecure. The study also revealed that gender and social amenities were significant in the food security equation. Specifically, there was high correlation between food-related illnesses and use of untapped water, more male children than females in a household, long distance to health centers, lack of quick means of transport, unsafe food disposal and poor food storage habits. In order to improve the food utilization and thereby security for the rural farm-households, the study recommends improvement in the provision of social amenities for both male and female household members equitably.