We conducted surveys in Rongai Sub-County of Nakuru County and documented the availability, access and use of agricultural biodiversity among this group of farmers. We also sought to find out their knowledge, attitudes and practices towards diet quality of women of reproductive age and young children 6-23 months of age. Further, we studied barriers and opportunities for diversifying farms and diets of women of reproductive age and young children aged 6-23 months. Finally we identified entry points and the most suitable interventions for diversifying farms and diets in Rongai sub-County. This policy brief gives a summary of our findings and recommendations.
Maternal and child malnutrition remains a public health concern in Kenya despite efforts to reduce it through improving household food security. In Kenya 26% of the children aged 6-23 months are stunted (KNBS and ICF Macro 2014). One of the WHO Global targets is to reduce global stunting rates by 40% and wasting to less than 5% by 2025. The leading cause of malnutrition is suggested to be lack of diverse diet and nutritional quality which can be mitigated by encouraging agricultural biodiversity. A cross-sectional study was conducted in two agricultural potential areas of Rongai Sub-county of Nakuru County. Random sampling was used to select sub-locations from low potential areas (Kampi ya moto, Makutano, Kapsetek, Morop) and high potential areas (Ogilgei, Kamungei, Mangu, Mimwaita, Olrongai). Households with children aged 6 to 23 months old and their mothers/caregivers participated in the study (low potential, n=161; high potential, n=227).
Socio-demographic characteristics of households in Rongai sub-county
- Most households (81.9%) in Rongai are headed by men
- On average, each household has 5 members
- Most of the mothers interviewed have primary education
Socio-economic status of households in Rongai sub-county
- Most households (61.8%) in Rongai are categorized as poorest
- 7% of household in low potential areas are categorized as poorest
- 3% of household in high potential areas are categorized
- Only 3.2% are categorized as rich
Household food access in Rongai sub-county
- More than half of the households are food insecure.
- 1% of the households in low potential areas are food secure
- 6% of the households in high potential areas are food secure
- Severely food insecure households were mainly from the low potential areas (26.4%).
Knowledge on young child feeding, nutrition during pregnancy and lactation in Rongai sub-county
- 8 out 10 mothers/caregivers have poor knowledge on infant and young child feeding
- 90% of mothers/caregivers had poor knowledge on nutrition during pregnancy and lactation
- 97% of mothers/caregivers had poor knowledge on iron deficiency anaemia
- 93 % of mothers /caregivers had poor knowledge on vitamin A deficiency
- Only 30% of mothers/caregivers had good knowledge on overweight and obesity
Knowledge on personal hygiene, water and sanitation in Rongai sub-county
- 7 out of 10 mothers/caregivers had good knowledge on personal hygiene
- 9 out of 10 mothers /caregivers had poor knowledge on water and sanitation
Knowledge on food based dietary guidelines and dietary diversity in Rongai sub-county
- 98% of mothers /caregivers had poor knowledge on food based dietary guidelines and dietary diversity
There was no difference in knowledge of mothers/caregivers from high potential and low potential areas of Rongai sub-county
Generally mothers /caregivers poor attitudes on:
- Infant and young child feeding,
- food based dietary guidelines and dietary diversity,
- vitamin A deficiency, overweight and obesity
Mothers/caregivers practices in Rongai sub-county
- Mothers /caregivers from low potential areas had better infant and young child feeding practices compared to those from high potential areas
- 91% of mothers/caregivers in Rongai have poor practices on water and sanitation
- Mothers/caregivers from low potential areas had better practices on water and sanitation
- 62% of mothers/caregivers had poor practices on personal hygiene
- All mothers/caregivers had poor practices on dietary diversity
- Most mothers/caregivers were physically active especially those from high potential areas
Children dietary diversity in Rongai sub-county
- More than half of the children consumed a diverse diet.
- Children dietary diversity is similar in low and high agricultural potential areas
- Children from low agricultural potential area consumed more number of meals per day
- On average, most children consume foods from only four food groups
Women dietary diversity in Rongai sub-county
- Majority (80.9%) of the women in Rongai do not meet minimum dietary diversity
- More women from high potential areas (19.1%) have minimum diverse diet than those from low potential areas (13.9%).
- On average, most women and children consume foods from only four food groups
Nutritional status of children in Rongai sub-county
- Wasting rates in Rongai was 6.2% (8.6%in low verses 4.5% in high potential areas)
- Underweight rates were 9.2% (11.3% in low verses 7.8% in high potential areas)
- Stunting rates were 23.4% (26.2%in low verses 21.4% in high potential areas)
Nutritional status of women in Rongai sub-county
- 12% of the women in Rongai sub-county are underweight
- Most underweight women were from low (19%) than high potential areas (7.1%).
- Majority of overweight women are from high potential areas (21.8%) compared to low potential (17.1%).
- Majority of obese women are from high potential areas (11.6%) than low potential (5.1%).