Determining the relationship between agrobiodiversity and nutrition in Kenya


Agrobiodiversity and dietary diversity for improved nutritional status of mother-infant diets in Rongai sub-county, Kenya

Project summary

Maternal and child malnutrition remains a major public health concern in Kenya despite efforts to reduce it by improving household food security. Lack of diverse diet and quality nutrition is the leading cause of micro-nutrient and protein-energy malnutrition. This project by Egerton University is aimed at determining the relationship between agrobiodiversity and nutrition, identifying entry points, and barriersfor diversifying farm level production and diets, and identifying suitable interventions in Rongai sub-county of Nakuru County, Kenya. The two-year project with Transform Nutrition and Agriculture for Nutrition and Health will be conducted in two phases: the first phase will involve documenting food biodiversity, establishing the link between agrobiodiversity and dietary diversity and their influence on nutritional status, the relative contribution of crop and livestock species to household food consumption and income, and participation of households in markets. The prices of available foods in markets visited by the participating households and the minimum cost of a nutritious diet will also be documented. In phase two, barriers and entry points to diversification of farms and diets will be identified and prioritized in a participatory approach. Insight from this study will inform policy makers regarding ways of improving farm and dietary diversity in rural and sub-urban communities.

The project will adopt a cross-sectional design. Assessment will be carried out in wet and dry seasons in order to account for seasonal variation in diet and nutrient intake. Sub-locations will be sampled randomly and households with children aged 6 to 59 months listed, and randomized to select 400 households. Questionnaires and participatory methods (Key informant interviews and focus group discussions) will be used to enlist the information. A structured questionnaire will be used to obtain household and demographic data, child care and feeding practices, knowledge, attitudes and practices on infant and young child feeding, food consumption and dietary diversity, food aids, coping strategies during food shortages, source of income and the main source of livelihood for the household. Information on agricultural biodiversity  will be  measured  by  the  variety  of  food  plants grown,  animals  reared  for  food  and  food  items  obtained  from  natural habitats. Information on farm size, number of plots owned, ownership status, crops produced in the farming season, animals present and for what purpose, size of home gardens, local wild food gathered for own consumption, wild animals hunted and for what purpose, and market oriented data such as foods purchased, persons responsible for the purchase and frequency of purchase will also be obtained. Nutritional status will be assessed using body measurements which include mid-upper arm circumference, weight, height and recumbent length. A 24-hour dietary recall on 2 non-consecutive days in lean season and in season of plenty will be used to assess food consumption in the households. Dietary diversity scores and nutrient intakes for women and children will be calculated following FAO and WHO guidelines (FAO, 2010; WHO 2008).

The body measurements data will be analyzed using WHO Anthro, the 24-Hour dietary recall data by Lucille Food Intake analysis software, and the agrobiodiversity species by Shannon-Wiener Index. Linear programming using the Cost of Diet Tool will be applied to identify lowest-cost nutritious diets. Nutritional functional diversity metrics will be calculated according to Remans et. al. (2011). Socio-economic and demographic data will be analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS), version 22.0 and summarized using tables, charts and graphs. The relationship between agrobiodiversity and nutrition, and the best-bet practices for enhancing agricultural and dietary diversity for better health and nutrition will be documented. Policy recommendations will be provided to aid in planning interventions that improve farm and dietary diversity among community members in Rongai sub-county.

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