Nutrition has a dramatic global effect on the mortality and morbidity of children under the age of
five years. Several interventions have been applied to help reduce the prevalence of
undernutrition and community participation has been identified as an approach towards
implementing the interventions. Following Alma Ata Declaration and as part of the primary
health care movement much activity in the 1980s used community-based approaches. Through
this, community/village health worker programmes were established in many countries to
implement a range of health interventions.
Limited inforn1ation exists to give a clear picture regarding the levels of community participation
and process used to integrate participation in a community's activities and the outcome
performance in the projects. The purpose of the study was to enhance the understanding of
community participation as a tool for achieving nutrition programme objectives and the main
objective was to provide more insight on the levels of community participation in nutrition
programmes and their impact on the nutritional status of the beneficiaries.
The study took place in the FBP nutrition programme at the Riruta Health Centre- Kawangware
involving its beneficiaries only. A cross-sectional study design of both descriptive and analytical
nature was carried out with a sample of 142 as detennined through the Fischer formula for a
population of <10,000. Focus group discussions, key informants and SWOT analysis were used
to collect qualitative data and for the purpose of triangulating. A semi-structured questionnaire
was administered for quantitative data. A two category likert scale (with high and low) was
developed with the aid of the programme nutritionist and the community representative, to score
and scale the levels of participation. The Likert scale was based on the most common ways of
community participation commonly observed within the nutrition programme.
It was observed that 67% of the participants had low levels of community participation on the
likert scale (a total score of :::;2)while only 33% had high levels of community participation (a
total score of ~3). The results revealed that there was no direct relationship between community
participation and nutritional status of the beneficiaries 6-59 months. The beneficiaries who were
underweight were 1.27 more times likely to participate in the programme's activities while the
wasted ones had the lowest chance that is 0.78 times likely to participate. Stunted beneficiaries
were 0.99 times likely to participate in the nutrition programme's activities.
The findings of this study showed that the nutrition programme has low levels of participation
which impacts negatively on the programmes performance as well as its comprehensive
achievement of objectives. The community is not actively involved in the programme's activities
and this should be improved through creating opportunities through which the programme staff
can capture and sustain the community's attention without necessarily requiring monetary
resources. The study concluded that there is no relationship between community participation
and the nutritional status of the beneficiaries (6-59 months) enrolled in the Riruta health centre's
nutrition programme. There was no statistically significant association between the level of
community participation and being underweight (p=O.704), stunted (p=0.979) and wasted
(0.065). More research should be done so as to establish the indirect benefits that community
participation has on the programme and on the nutritional status on the beneficiaries e.g. its
influence on recovery rates, relapse rates, defaults.