Women experiences in food security
PDF version
Start Time: 
Tue, 2013-04-16 (All day)
End Time: 
Mon, 2013-05-20 (All day)
Location: 
Baringo County

Women Kenya and other sub-Saharan African countries produce an estimated 70-80% of food and are therefore crucial for ensuring food security is attained within the family and by extension many communities in rural Africa. The African Women Studies Centre of the University of Nairobi, is coordinating a Food Security Project funded by the Government of

Kenya that aims to promote and advocate for the implementation of Article 43(1) C of Kenya’s Constitution (2010) which states “Every person has the right to be free from hunger and to have adequate food of acceptable quality” dubbed Zero Tolerance to Hunger and Malnutrition. The project targets 20 counties in the first phase. These counties were randomly selected within the different Agro-ecological zones of Kenya. One of the key objectives of the research is to document women’s experiences, perspectives and knowledge of food securityissues along the entire value chain in different Counties of Kenya. This will provide an understanding on the role the women play or may play in ensuring food security. It is critical to increase our awareness of what women know about each component of food security (accessibility, availability, utilization and sustainability), including their opinions, practices and attitudes. Given the challenges of ensuring food security in the face of high poverty levels especially in developing countries, it is important to make sure that the women’s experiences, coping strategies and intergenerational food preservation and storage practices are also documented. Putting these aspects together will increase our awareness on the circumstances affecting women in ensuring food security; will enhance people’s understanding of matters pertaining to food security; will inform policy, legislation and stakeholders on appropriate tools for women’s involvement in efforts to ensure food security in Kenya; will elevate national awareness on women’s contribution in development and will advocate and lobby for increased funding for women’s activities in food security.

The team from the College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences, led by one of the Principal Investigators and Lead Researcher, Dr. Margaret Hutchinson, accompanied by Co-Lead Researcher, Prof Florence Olubayo and 7 rapporteurs and research assistants from other colleges, conducted their research in Baringo County from 16th of April to 20th of April 2013. Field logistics were done by officers in the Ministry of Gender youth and social services (Women Enterprise Fund).

The tools used to collect the information from the women included; questionnaire for in-depth face to face interviews with women of different ages, focus group discussions and oral testimonies (from over 66 years old women). The major observations on the food security status in BaringoCounty were found to include;

  • A high level of food insecurity, characterized by uncertainty of what to eat especially during the dry periods.
  • Residents grow different crops (both traditional and conventional crops) and keep livestock mainly traditional breeds (cows, goats and chicken).
  • Majority of the respondents practice subsistence farming whose outputs are hardly enough to feed families who then resort to being relief recipients when drought strikes. The amount of relief food received was inadequate. 
  • Insecurity in the northern part of the county offers a fluid situation due to rampant cattle rustling activities.
  • Very few people receive government support either in form of inputs (seed, fertilizer) or cash transfer and where this was available; the amount is way too little to alleviate the challenge, the process is tedious, hidden in secrecy and corruption.

Challenges and opportunities for food security along the value chain in the areas of inputs, production, markets, value addition and consumption were identified. Issues around women and food security emerged as;

  • Women have clear memories on the changes that have occurred over the period on food security[
  • Women take the burden of providing food for the families
  • Women are marginalized in terms of access to land, inputs and decision making although the situation has improved over the years and yet is still a challenge to some families
  • Women are clear on strategies for combating food insecurity and are ready to engage effectively
  • Women are financially weak and many are in need of financial support especially individual loans

In conclusion, priority proposals from the women farmers for improving the food security situation in Baringo County were presented to the Governor and his team who validated the same. These were:

  1. Provision of water for domestic use and irrigation;
  2. Improvement of infrastructure to facilitate access to markets;
  3. Financial support and subsidized inputs; effective extension services; and gender empowerment in terms of access to resources, decision making and equity.

 

Contact Person: 
Dr. Margaret Hutchinson, Prof Florence Olubayo
Category: 
Staff