Food Security Score for Kenya

Samwel Wakibi, Wanjiru Gichuhi, Wanjiku Mukabi Kabira


Article 43, Section (1)(c) of the Bill of Rights of the Kenya Constitution (2010) states that: “Every person has the right to be free from hunger, and to have adequate food of acceptable quality. To monitor progress and targeting interventions towards realization of this goal, an easyto-use, but scientifically sound measure of food security is required.” The objective of this paper is to construct such measure that will subsequently constitute a Food Security Score (henceforth, FSS) for Kenya. This Food Security Score will enable the classification of the food security status of each county in the country. This FSS study was nested within a crosssectional baseline study conducted by the African Women’s Studies Centre (AWSC). The study had a representative sample of 4,129 households drawn from 20 randomly selected counties within six of Kenya’s Agro-ecological zones. The food security score study consulted one adult respondent in each household on the experiences, practices and behaviours of household members that have a bearing on food insecurity, including concerns such as: (a) not having enough food to feed

the entire household; (b) cutting back on meal rations because of insufficient amounts of food stuffs; (c) lack of resources to buy food, and (d) going to bed hungry because of an absence of food to feed the household. Out of the 4129 households surveyed, 4060 responded to all four key questions selected to

compute the FSS for Kenya. The results of the study revealed that whereas 67 percent of Kenyan households are food secure, 30 percent are food insecure, meaning that they lack access to enough food to sustain an active, healthy life for all members of their households. From the category of the food

insecure group, a total of 9 percent are chronically food insecure. Based on this FSS, food security varied significantly amongst various counties and agro ecological zones.

Agro-ecological zone (p-value<0.001) and county (p-value<0.001) are significantly associated with food security. Counties with higher rates of food insecurity than the nationally defined levels are mainly found in the coastal lowlands, inland lowlands and upper midlands agro-ecological zones. In line with the Constitution of Kenya (2010), efforts towards achieving food security need to focus on ensuring that all Kenyans are food secure. Although the two variables relating to the specific agro-ecological zones and counties significantly impact on food security in Kenya, these are not amenable to interventions.

Hence, they can be used to target the most vulnerable regions and monitor improvements

after implementing appropriate interventions to ameliorate food security. However, further research is recommended to validate the FSS regionally and internationally in order to improve its universality of interpretation.

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