Demographic and socio-economic determinants of availability and access dimensions of household food security in Kitui County, Kenya
Mary M Milelu, Dorcus Mbithe D Kigaru, Elizabeth N Kuria
Background: Reducing the number of hungry people in the world by 2030 is one of the main objectives of Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs). Household food insecurity remains a challenge worldwide with the number of undernourished people increasing daily. This has been attributed to many factors. In Kenya, the arid and semi-arid lands are worst hit by food insecurity. To improve the status of household food security, the determinants of household food security must be established and documented. Objectives: To establish the demographic and socioeconomic determinants of household food security in Kitui County, one of the arid and semi-arid Counties of Kenya. Methods: A cross-sectional design with a sample size of 167 households randomly selected was adopted. The respondents were household heads. Data collection instruments included a structured questionnaire and an observation checklist. Data was analyzed using SPSS software. Multiple linear regression was used to establish the demographic and socioeconomic determinants of household food security. Significance was set at P<0.05 at 95% CI. Results: Only a quarter of the households (25.7%) were food secure. The main sources of food by the households were home production (37.9%), purchasing (34.6%) and food aid (27.5%). A high proportion of the households bought food for daily use and a look at the market prices was therefore important to determine its effect on food security. The demographic and socio-economic determinants which include; gender, marital status, education level and occupation of household head; livestock ownership were not significant determinants of household food insecurity (p>0.05). Accessibility to the market was challenged by distance to markets and lack of or expensive motorized transport. Majority of the household members walked to the market place. The households grew different crops and kept livestock both for food and as a source of income. Maize was the commonly grown crops. Drought resistant crops which include sorghum, millet and green grams were grown by few households. The Livestock reared were goat (67.1%) and chicken (77.8%).The study reported that lack of rain (92.2%) was the main cause of food shortage in the households. The household mean income from off-farm activities, livestock and livestock was 69.59 ±89.9 $. Conclusion: Demographic and socio-economic determinants are not significant in explaining food security in Mwingi County. The study recommends; relevant Government ministries and Non-governmental organizations to encourage diversification of drought resistant crops to improve the household food security in the study area. Similar study should be done on cultural and environmental factors which may be affecting food security in the county.