Household food adequacy and the nutritional status of preschool children in a child survival project area, Namelok, Kajiado district
household food adequacy and the nutritional status of pre-school children in a CHILD SURVIVAL AREA, NAMELOK, KAJIADO DISTRICT A cross-sectional survey on food adequacy and nutritional status of pre-school children was conducted in 191 rural households within the child survival project area in Namelok, Loitokitok Division, Kajiado District, Kenya. The study was intended to investigate the food adequacy among the Maasai, nutritional status of their preschoolers, the activities geared towards household access to food and the household resource base and food purchases. The data collection methodologies used were the food frequencies, food purchases of the households and two 24 hour recalls on a subsample of 30 % of the study population. Anthropometric measurements were collected for all preschoolers (251) aged 12-60 months residing in these households. Access to food for the household was dependent on the male household head who controlled the household resources and made the final decision on their allocation. The average nutrient adequacy per consumer unit for energy and iron was found to be 73% and 45 % respectively whereas protein and Vitamin A were adequate in the diet. The household food adequacy was predicted by the household wealth (p<0.05), the number of pre1 school children in the household (p<0.05) and the household expenditure on food (p<0.05). One-third of the households were at risk of being food insecure with the energy adequacy of below 60 % of requirement. The study found that about 60 % of the children were stunted and 9 % wasted. Another 28% were found to be underweight. Prevalence of underweight was significantly higher (p< 0.05) among boys compared with their female counterparts but there was no significant difference in stunting and wasting. Children of age-groups 12-23 months and 48-60 months were the most vulnerable to undernutrition. Illness from diarrhoea, fever and vomiting were common among the young pre-schoolers (12-23 months old). Malnutrition due to inadequate dietary intake was observed, mainly among the older children (48 months and above). Intervention is needed to address the food consumption and dietary patterns and to create awareness in order to improve the health and sanitation in the area and to come up with activities which are geared towards improving the income of women.