Food Security and Rural Livelihoods in Kenya

Authors: Sarah Posner*, University of Colorado
Topics: Africa, Agricultural Geography, Medical and Health Geography
Keywords: Livelihoods, Food Security, Child Health, East Africa
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: 8228, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

With the onset of climate change, food production is at risk of availability, accessibility, and utilization by vulnerable communities. One aspect of food insecurity is children's health outcomes in terms of availability of food. This may vary by livelihood specification which dictates how households acquire income and food. East Africa, particularly Kenya, is a region especially vulnerable to climate changes’ effects on access, availability, and utilization of food. The pastoral and agro-pastoral regions of Kenya are highly food insecure and have a history of resource-based conflicts. For many people in these regions, their livelihoods depend upon rain-fed agriculture. This leaves them vulnerable to climate related events such as increased drought or price fluctuations of staple crops in world markets. Kenya also has one of the highest rates of child stunting despite an integrated economy. I explore the interrelations between climatic changes across rural livelihoods and their impacts on health.

My research involved both primary and secondary survey data of factors associated with childhood stunting at the national scale as well as a survey of 150 respondents from three rural livelihood zones in a region of Northern Kenya. Using climate data as well as respondents perceptions of environmental change, the study finds that pastoralist communities are more aware of climatic changes occurring on the ground and that their impacts on children's health are negative compared to agricultural and agro-pastoral livelihoods. Such findings will better inform interventions and policies targeting the improvement of sustainable livelihoods within a sustainable livelihoods framework.

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